How I Use My Bullet Journal For Writing

I’ve talked about Bullet Journaling in the past, and even given you a glimpse into my old Bullet Journal (I moved in a more effective grid composition book, approximately B5 size, around three weeks ago. I’m loving it and will eventually be doing a post giving you a glimpse inside of it.). But what I haven’t talked about is how I actually use my journal, baring the now obsolete old look inside which wasn’t that in-depth.

My journal is composed of several things: a year at a glance, future log, monthly log, weekly logs (More on this later.), daily logs, working collections such as my submissions collection,  the index, and non working collections that are useful like a collection of flabby words. I also make use of techniques such as threading, and will be covering how I do that. But let’s get into things.


One of what I find to be  key components of the Bullet Journal, the index is where I keep everything easily accessible. It holds where in my journal everything is and is divided into a page for projects, a page for monthly stuff, and a page for more general collections such as my submissions collection.

By using separate pages for these facets of my journal it allows me to more easily find things and to not run out of room nearly as fast.

Year At A Glance

The second part of how I use the system isn’t a part of the original, but I’ve found my two year at a glance spreads for 2016 and 2017 very helpful for how I work. I like to work with long-term goals, thing like finish 12 flash pieces, sub 25+ poems this year, write a novel etc. Things you can’t do quickly and have to take your time in order to do right.

This collection, as the name implies, allows me to see the year in its entirety. From the first day to the last, and is made up of three things: the calendar; important dates, a place for any far of deadlines and the like; and a section for the previously mentioned long-term goals. Think of it as my yearly writing plan ( Post on the benefits of having a list of yearly writing goals pending.).

Future Log 

If you’ve seen the video, you’ll recognize this as another standard competent of the Bullet Journal. I use mine to plan monthly goals and capture things such as submission deadlines. Especially for when I don’t have something that can be quickly polished and sent out. I haven’t had to use my future log in that way yet, goals are sufficient for now.

Standard as it is to have one, and even though my use of it isn’t all that unusual. There is one thing that I’ve done differently from the video: the length. My future log, in keeping with my having a Yearly Glance for both 2016 and 2017, extends from this month, September 2016, until December of 2017. That’s six pages, the last two sections acting as a place to plan my big goals for 2018 and 2019.

Monthly, Weekly, & Daily Log.

This has to be my favorite part of this post. I love my adapted Future Log, my Year At A Glance, the different collections I use and even my Index adaptations. But these logs are where most of the work happens, they’re a huge part of how I keep on track.

Monthly Log

I’ll admit, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this aspect in some way. It isn’t as much of a part of how I work as it should be, seeing as how it is really useful. Currently, however, I’ve been using it to log when I’ve sent a poems/story out, how much I wrote, or when I’ve posted something on this blog. So I’m going to chock things up to me expecting it to do more than I need it to do.

Weekly Log

I think it’s pretty clear by not that I have a love for nonstandard adaptations of the Bullet Journal system.

The Weekly Log or Weekly that I use, while not an official part of the system, is just a one week version of the traditional monthly log. It fits on a single page where I also put my task list for the week. On my task list goes all my goals for that week and little writing related things not dependent on any one project/goal.

Daily Log

The daily logs is the real workhorse of the system. It’s where everything I need to get done in a particular day goes. I simply draw a four square by one square rectangle to hold the date as a header and make entries for what needs to be done, notes to myself, any ideas for new stories that come up in the course of the day etc. below it.

It’s a simply way to work, but since I’m using it as a productivity tool I don’t really need any frills. In fact, I would say that I genuinely enjoy working without the frills. I have a personal Bullet Journal, which is also minimalist, that has about as much frills as I need.

Working Collections

For me, collections are something I like to split into two categories: working collections and other collections. Working Collections, as the name suggests, are things that I use regularly for writing. They’re dynamic, things being added and removed as needed. But you don’t need to hear me ramble about how awesome I find these sorts of collections when I can instead talk to you about the collections themselves, so let’s go.

Monthly Projects Log

An adaptation I found through a post on the Bullet Journal website, I will admit it doesn’t really work for me. Some aspects such as the due dates appealed to me, and sort of work. But it just felt too… I guess ridged is the best word to describe it.

It’s not a half bad idea though, so check out the article linked and give it a try. Maybe it will work for you, whether you Bullet Journal or not, better than it worked for me.

Blog Log

If the monthly log is my catchall for anything significant such as when I posted something on this blog and where and if I sent out a poem/story, then my monthly blog log is the same thing. It’s a place I keep track of the full titles for my blog posts and when they’ve gone up.  

Submissions Log

In contrast to my blog log and the monthly log for my working on my novel, I’ll talk about that more later, this isn’t dependent on months. Instead this modified version of my future log, pages divide into two big sections instead of three, is based solely on stories.

When a piece is close to ready to being sent out, I go to an open box in my log, write the title, genre, whether something is a short story/flash/poem, and the word count. Poems get lines substituted for words.

Below all that housekeeping at the top, right under the title itself, goes the venues I plan on sending it the piece to. When I send something out, I put the date next to the venue. Which is followed by the date I got a response on the submission and whether the piece was accepted or not. I had also considered payment in the same line for if it is accepted, but I’m considering something different. Payments are business transactions, and I am beginning to feel that they should have their own old-fashioned log book style collection for the purposes of keeping on top of things. However, I’m still mulling it over. I’ll keep you updated on what I choose.

Venue Logs 

Speaking of log book, my venues logs very much look like one. The pages are separated into columns that give the name of a publication, genre(s) accepted, electronic or postal subs, pay rate, and word/line count just to name a few thing I include.

Currently I have two of them, one for poetry and another for venues for my Speculative Fiction, but I’ll probably add more in the future. Having them in my Bullet Journal, despite the need to update them periodically or make notes on any changes in a notes collection, helps me to pick where a poem or story is going. I don’t have to scour the internet for a venue, all I do is look at my list, add appropriate venues to my submissions log for a piece, and check to see if the venue is currently taking submissions. Quick and painless for me.

Novel/Novella/Novelette Log

If they remind you of my blog log, then you would be mostly right. This log, which is basically a modified monthly, is where I track my word count on larger projects over the course of the month. It’s so far been titled simply with the title of the project, but I’m not holding myself to that if something better comes.

The only real difference between this log and my monthly and blog log is that I have two columns where I keep a running tally of the transposed and handwritten word count. This is so I can decide how much work I need/want to do on a project the next month.

Story Ideas & Blog Ideas…

are where they aforementioned story and blog ideas live in my Bullet Journal. They’re separate collections, but speaking about them is easier since I do the same thing in both of them. Or almost the same thing.

Both have the ideas entered into them with a task bullet. However, I title my blog ideas so the first line for them is the title, whereas the basic concept is on the first line of my story ideas. On the line right below the title of the blog post, I write the first line of said post. I skip a line in-between ideas so things don’t feel so cramped when scanning them to see what jumps out at me. My story idea is just that so far, the basic idea.

Blog Brainstorm & Story Brainstorm

These two are where I brainstorm everything, hashing out the details. And funny enough, they’re another modified future log, pages divided just as in my submissions log, because the format of the future log is really adaptable. You would think that not using that format would be more useful, but I like the ability to brainstorm multiple stories or blogs at the same time. All I have to do, for both new ideas and things I’m already working on, is go to the next open box. I put the title or idea and/or the first line and I’m good to go. I just write title/idea continued in whichever box section I use next.

Poem Tracker

This is new to my system of working. I decided that I want to write sixty poems between now and the start of 2017, roughly 12 weeks. So I made a grid of sort to handle the job of tracking this goal. Week 1, week 2 etc. down the left side, and five blocked out one by one boxes next to each week.

Open Projects

The last of my working collections at this point in time is my collection of open projects. This is a list, short stories/novelettes/flash getting one side of the page and novel/novellas getting the other side, where I keep a running list projects I haven’t finished yet. It’s also the place for projects past the idea stage that I’m not currently working on.

I just enter the name of the project into the correct list  with a task bullet to the left of it, and cross out the task bullet when the project becomes the one I’m focusing on completing.

Other Collections

Other Collections are things that are more static in nature, where something may go into it but it wont be removed from the collection. They also tend to not be specific to any one project that on my plate at a given time. Story titles not linked to something I’m already working on, a list of words to watch out for, a list of interesting adjectives etc.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Much as it may seem like this is all list and trackers, seeing as I did nothing more than talk about them for most of this post, I should really get on to explaining how I use threading to keep collections and parts of collections together. I did, after all, tell you that I would cover how I use threading.

If you’ve seen the post on threading that I linked to earlier, you’ll have a good idea of how I thread my collections together so that I don’t have to make entries in my index every time I start a new two page spread or single page for a given collection. But as in most other aspects of my Bullet Journal that I’ve explained so far, I’ve also tweaked this to provide me with what I need. You see I not only thread collections together, but also thread the sections of my brainstorm collections and submissions collection together as needed.

If the last time I worked on a brainstorm for something was five pages ago or even ten, though I’ve not experienced that yet. I put a little P#.S# in a corner where it is both out-of-the-way of everything else and easily accessible for me to see where the last occurrence of that sub-collection was. I also go back to the last time that sub-collection came up and put do the same for the new section of the sub-collection. So if a sub-collection is P20.S2 and the next time it shows up is P35.S2, I put the former and later in the corner of the corresponding page and section.

So there it is. How I use a Bullet Journal, more specifically my Bullet Journal, to help me organize my writing. Don’t get eaten or abducted between now and my next post!

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Why Historical?

As my Ancient Egypt post and a number of others prove, I have a bit of a thing when it comes to history and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But other people aren’t quite in love with history as I am, warts and all, and are probably wondering why someone would want to write Historical Fiction of any sort?

The short answer is that the work that goes into writing historical is rewarding and fun.

My personal longer answer goes something more like this: there’s plenty of Fantasy books and books of other genres set in the present, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But a writer may want to venture outside of that for a variety of reasons, the most important reason being that it draws the reader in in its own way.

Let’s say you have a detective character that is a vampire or some other mythic being. By setting the story in 1890’s Boston, you set complications for the story that don’t exist in this current time. How does your vampire eat when they have to go to the neighborhood butcher or find someone willing. What types of forensics are available to them and what are the limitations? How would said forensics play out and be adapted for a supernatural crime or play into/against the vampire’s senses? What complications arise when you make the vampire female?

The way those questions are answered can lead to a story just as exciting or engaging as any set in the present day or very near past. And I enjoy the challenge of doing that in a  way that is different from the challenge of fitting a Horror story, supernatural story etc into the present day.

Don’t get eaten or abducted before my next post!

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Vampires: A Love Affair

People have been fascinated by, terrified of, and even aroused by vampires and vampire-like beings for millennia. And if you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I definitely fit that description. I love and have loved vampires since I was a kid.

The idea that something has been stalking the night, following you when you leave the house, maybe feeling a demented form of love and stalking you because of it, eternally stuck at the age of its death… Just thinking of it is spine chilling in a way that isn’t entirely good nor entirely bad. A way that just is.

And that feeling, that creepy but sweet feeling is why I end up writing about vampires so much. Not to mention why I’m continuing this literary love affair by writing about a character that is trying to reconcile the person she loves, because I tend towards female protagonists, with the fact that person is a vampire out hunting humans right at that very moment. Love, blood, uncertainty, fear and, hopefully, contentment and happiness in the end since this is a romantic horror piece.

Wish me luck!

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Style and the Writer

Lately I’ve been thinking of style. Not prose style, which is a post worthy topic on its own. But style as in the clothing we like to wear and the image that helps a writer project to their readers.

You see, I’m an unpublished writer but the style I prefer to wear is Gothic in nature, romantic goth to be more specific. Feel free to google Gothic fashion/clothing, since it is something that will lead to lots of interesting results and there’s worse things to get sucked into on the internet.  But the short of it is that I prefer clothing with a dark and soft, old-fashioned sort of aesthetic. Flowing shirts and tops, including peasant style ones and ones inspired by history, with lace accents. Velvet, satin, and brocade for formal events. Sweat pants with a velvet look that don’t look like sweats and a simple black tank top (vest for those of you across the pond), casual but pretty black shirt, or a grey screen printed shirt with a black and red rose on it for ultra-casual wear. And my customary choker or a necklace with a timeless design.

I like black, grey, other darker and more jewel-toned colors than something really bright and in your face. But you’re probably wondering what this has to do with my writing in particular and the image I want to project to readers when and if I get published.

Well if you’ve hung around my blood for long enough, you may have noticed by now that I don’t so much have a genre as I have an aesthetic I lean towards in my stories. A dark one that’s sometimes just sad or a melancholy sort of happy, and at others full of blood and guts strewn about with reckless abandon. I’m the sort of writer who, while she likes a variety of things and not just the dark stuff, has mainly, because of her own natural inclinations as a writer at this point in time finished mostly things with a dark aesthetic. A Gothic Horror novella that I plan on turning into a novel, but need to do some heavy research for before doing so; several horror poems; a Dark Fantasy short that I hope to expand play up the romance on; a Dark/Horror SF flash piece and the list goes on and on. Even a Horror and Slice of Life mash-up that I’m currently polishing in preparation for sending it out on submission.

Since I like a darker aesthetic both in clothing and my own work, I figured projecting that to a reader is a good thing. It’s who I am and I like the honesty of letting the reader know it. And this had led me to the conclusion that I’m sure some of you have already seen coming: a writer should cultivate a personal aesthetic for the professional end of things that reflects what they enjoy wearing and what fits in with the type of story they like to write.

Until next time, don’t get eaten or abducted!

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A Look Inside My Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal

That bullet journal thing I was talking about last time the topic came up? Well, this is mine and that thing sitting right on top is currently my favorite pen. The pen is awesome, I’m not too thrilled with the notebook. I’m thinking of getting myself a cheap grid composition book from staples. My filing system for poetry and shorts has evolved, I needed to get more binders to store things anyway.

So, enough about my notebook woes. Let’s get a move on! I’ve got lots to show you. Heads up, some of the collections in this post as unique to me, some are modified to fit my needs as is common in the bullet journal community, and some snatched from other sources because they were perfect just the way they are. That last thing is also common in the bullet journal community for those who are wondering.

What those who read my last post on bullet journaling will notice, is that I don’t show any monthly logs, my future log, or my daily logs in this post. Those ones are full of my schedule and I didn’t quite feel comfortable sharing them. They’re also easy to google and it seemed unnecessary.

Year At A Glance

Year At A Glance

That is, as the caption says, my year at a glance spread. I’m still working on making it effective, but this is the perfect place to circle deadlines, vacation days, your planned writing schedule for a month. So I’m going to try that and will get back to you on how well it goes over the next couple of months.

Flabby Words

Flabby Words

Next up is my list of “Flabby Words”. The words that turn up a lot in first drafts and need to be scrutinized with more care than others, that can make a story lack punch and feel flabby and limp itself if they’re misused. Which brings us to my next collection….

Meaningful Adjectives!

Meaningful Adjectives!


Meaningful Adjectives! I love this collection in a way you cannot believe. It’s still in its infancy and I haven’t got much chance to use it, but I firmly believe a writer who is going to have collections in their bullet journal should have one full of adjectives that make their writing pop. And those words should be ones that would make something pop for them! This list was meant to be a reference for a writer, to be constantly used. Better to make it yours than to not use it and waste space you could use one something else.

Blog Ideas

Blog Ideas

I also have collection, now empty, but ready to be filled with blog ideas. Series of posts, indivudal posts, the first sentence of a post.  You name it, it will go on this list so that I don’t have to scramble like I’ve lost my head to find something to write about. But the best part is it will help me with organizing my more research based posts and with fact checking for them.

And speaking of projects, let me introduce you to a spread I’m trying out….

Project 2016-17 Gantt chart

Project 2016-17 Gantt chart

the 2016 – 2017 project Gantt chart. The final collection in this little look inside, I’ve got a whole series of them in my head to do what this type of chart does best… break down big projects like novels ad novella length stuff into little sections and give me an overview of how much time I think something will take me.

That’s it guys! Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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Ancient Egypt and Me

The Pharaoh Hatshepsut

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had something of a love affair with Ancient Egypt. Books, hours scouring the internet when that became an option, any documentary I could get my little hands on. I even badgered my mother into getting me a book about King Tutankhamen/Tutankhaten as compensation for not being able to find a book about the woman in the above picture, Hatshepsut, one of Ancient Egypt’s few female pharaohs when I was nine or ten.

You see, my love affair with Ancient Egyptian history began when I found out about her at the age of around three or four years old. I was fascinated by what was known about her in 1995, and possibly felt something akin to puppy love. Like they say, you aren’t really a history buff unless you had a crush on someone long dead. OK, they don’t say that, but I’ve got no other explanation for my absolute ridiculous level of childish puppy love regarding this awesome female historical figure who had died more than two millennia before I was even conceived. And, while I was certainly an odd child, I don’t think I was quite that strange yet.

I still find her to be utterly fascinating as person, and through her the entire 18th Dynasty and, to a smaller extent, the New Kingdom. A lot happened during her reign, and contrary to what many enthusiasts will tell you. Her name was not defaced from the public record of pharaohs until almost two decades after her death. She was a good ruler, her country prospered. Nor was she an odd duck in the way her reign started. Queens, though normally the child-King’s mother, already had a history of ruling in their children’s stead and advising their older children that were still too young to rule on their own in matters of state.

But what I find most fascinating, and have since I was in my early teens, was the role of women in Ancient Egypt. Yes, like in so many ancient and current cultures their primary roles were that of wives and mothers. However, unlike many ancient women and some women today, they had equal status to men under the law. Ancient Egyptian women owned their own property from birth until death, and could manage that property however they saw fit to do so. This included the ability to own land and rent it out to people, divide her asset in her will without being obligated to give it to members of her family, give loans and make interest on them regardless of the party she was giving the loan to, enter into contracts with other Ancient Egyptians, file lawsuits and act as legal witnesses, go into public when she liked without being chaperoned and more.

I could spend my life studying the lives of people in Ancient Egypt because of things like that. And it is for that reason that I think this love affair will continue for many years to come.

Until next time! Don’t get eaten or abducted!


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Bullet Journal & The Writer

If you’ve been hanging around the planner junkie section of the internet, you may have heard of the bullet journal. A productivity tool that basically combines all those random to-do lists and project lists into one space so they are easily accessible. I’ve been using one for almost two months, and I’m pretty in love with it.

So, how do you use a bullet journal, what does a writer add to theirs, and what do you need to start?

I’m not going to cover the use of a bullet journal, and will instead point you in the direction of the original concept, which you can tweak until it works for you. But getting started is extremely easy, because all you really need is a pen and notebook. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, or even an empty one. A half full notebook or a cheap one from the dollar store will work just as well.

My current writing bullet journal, which I realized I needed when my personal bullet journal was being overtaken by writing related stuff, is a cheap composition notebook. I am thinking of upgrading to something with better paper quality come the holidays, since my own personal bullet journal has better paper quality. The point is to look up the concept, find a notebook, and get started.

Ok. Now that you’ve got your notebook and a pen, you’re probably wondering how to use the bullet journal system for writing. That’s a very individual thing, but I use mine to keep lists of things such as words to watch out for, a chart tracking my work on a novel and the research for two others, a list of ideas for stories, ideas for the blog, synonyms, new words etc. And in addition to those things, I use it to set long-term goals, monthly goals, and daily goals.

For example, I may put when I want to finish a novel or novella in my future log. In fact, I do have an end date for a novel I’m working on in there already. That means that however many chapters/words I need to produce in order to finish when I want to goes on my monthly to-do list. This leads to set smaller deadlines at the weekly level and small daily goes for me to meet.

Maybe that seems like overkill, but the beauty of the system, for me at least, is in being able to break down long-term goals like novel-writing, wanting to write and send out a certain amount of short stories in a year, research for another project etc.

Give it a try. It keeps me motivated and may do the same for you. Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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