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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!