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I’ve been using a Bullet Journal® in some capacity or another for a few months, and I’ve found it very helpful for organization and getting things done. I firmly believe that a writer needs goals and should use the organizational method that helps them achieve their goals. So it seems fitting that I should share the way using a Bullet Journal can help a writer reach their writing goals as mentioned in my post on setting goals.
What is a Bullet Journal?
The main Bullet Journal® website, linked both here and above goes into more depth, but at its heart, a Bullet Journal is a method of organization.
It’s an analog method, meaning paper and pen much like a traditional printed planner, created by Ryder Carroll over the course of a number of years to help him organize his life. A place to keep to-do lists, goals, projects, wish lists, sketches, research and any number of other things a person may need it to do.
How can it help writers?
I don’t think anyone reading this post needs serious convincing on how the points from the previous section can be useful for writers of all sorts, but it never hurts to put things in context. The way I see it, a Bullet Journal® gives writers a place to…
- Keep track of submission deadlines or project deadlines they’ve set for themselves.
- Keep goals and plans on how they’re going to reach those goals.
- Keep a step by step breakdown of a project like a novel.
- Store character bios/profiles.
- Store research and worldbuilding.
- Keep to-do lists, monthly, daily, or/and weekly that will help a writer reach their goals.
- Keep story ideas, both general and for a specific project/goal.
I’ve focused on the specifics with regards to writing, but a Bullet Journal can also organize a person’s entire life if they want. My own —more on that later— currently organizes my entire life, because being a writer is part of my life and not the sum total of it, and things like a family member’s birthday may affect how much work I can get done on a given day.
The different methods of Bullet Journaling…
Like Bullet Journalists, there are a number of common methods of Bullet Journaling. Binders, traditional notebooks, and a Traveller’s Notebook.
Most people start out with a traditional notebook of some sort, whether hardcover, soft cover or spiral bound, in whichever size they feel most comfortable. And many continue to use that, for lack of a better word, style for their Bullet Journal.
The majority of hacks you’ll come across were originally designed for bound notebooks and then adapted to others.
Others use binders, which need no explanation, or they use a Traveller’s Notebook (hereafter known as a TN). A TN is a leather, faux leather or fabric cover, and sometimes laminated paper cover that encloses a number of notebooks within it. Normally the books are soft covered, but people also use hardcover notebooks in their TN.
What these methods share is the ability to compartmentalize things. Giving the user or, in this case, writer the ability to separate them into sections such as daily, personal collections, and both general writing collections and specific project based collections.
What I use…
As I mentioned earlier and promised to talk more about later, I recently went from using multiple notebooks, a size large hardcover graph Moleskine and a number of composition notebooks, to just using my personal Moleskine for everything. Some people are able to have things separated out like that or work with confidential information and need to keep separate books. But while I enjoyed the concept, I found that keeping everything in front of me works better.
But while I enjoyed the concept, I found that keeping everything in front of me works better. The only problem for me with this method is that I do desire some measure of separation while keeping everything in front of me and I don’t relish the idea of transferring all the personal and professional collections that are still relevant when this notebook is done. So I’ve decided to move into a couple of TNs once this notebook is done, and give myself the simultaneous ability to keep things together and separate. One for this blog, one for personal and general work, and one for ongoing projects like the novellas I mentioned in my goal setting post, short story drafts, and future novels once my current one is done.
I’ll admit that I already wonder whether a binder system may be best for my ongoing project, but most of my blog related stuff is already in a cardstock mock up of a TN and working perfectly fine. So I don’t anticipate any issues with the TN setup when it comes to my projects.
I hope everyone enjoyed this post! It was meant to be up one Friday, but that simply didn’t happen. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about the need for representation of marginalized groups in various forms of media via a post that is, in part about, Xena: Warrior Princess after a review of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella, Carmilla.