Today we welcome writer Serena-Louise Thomas who shares her advice on bullet journalling for writers.
Big thanks to Serena for being today’s guest poster, please make sure to check out her links and details at the end of this post.
I found bullet journaling at the end of 2017 with a lot of videos on YouTube arranging spreads to use as a daily organiser.
I immediately loved the design concept and saw it as another creative venture and before the new year was in, I’d bought my first bullet journal.
After trying and failing to upkeep my bullet journal for monthly and daily use, I instead turned mine into a handy journal to keep everything writing-related in one space.
As a writer, a build-up of paper and files can sometimes get out of control and I’ve found having a writing bullet journal a compact and clutter-free way to make sure I reach my goals.
I now have two, one almost full and another to help plot and plan another novel I’m working on.
The most important thing in bullet journaling is creating spreads. And I believe the most important writing spread is the monthly spread. This is almost identical to the kind of monthly spreads you’d find in most bullet journals except it isn’t used for tracking the month and tasks to do.
Mine tracks word counts. Specifically, during months where Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo are taking place.
It’s a great tool to track your progress throughout the month and to keep an eye on your goals. It’s a creative page you can design to your liking but mine is simple and to the point.
I use star stickers to indicate when I reach a goal or achieved a writing day on my monthly spread. The great thing about this is it’s simple to create and even if you haven’t got the fancy pens to make it, you can print out a calendar from Word and stick it in place. See an example from last year in 01 below.
Besides using the pages to outline my Three Act Structure, another important spread I’ve used during my writing journey is the writing sprints spread in 02 below.
This is simply a table of writing sprints I’ve completed to again track my progress and allow me to see how much time I am dedicating to a project.
This spread is enormously helpful when doing Nano and Camp Nano, particularly if you’re tracking your progress by minutes than words.
My other favourite spread is the ‘what if’ spread such as 03 below. This spread is basically just a page where you can splurge your “what if” ideas as you’re writing.
During drafting, sometimes I’m also plotting more than I already have and I wonder “what if this character did this instead?” or “what if this happened?”
It’s a blank page to brain dump your ideas. I’ve covered mine to avoid spoilers for a work in progress.
WRITING BULLET JOURNAL PAGE IDEAS
There are so many ideas you can use to fill the pages of your writing journal. To name a few below, these fill my bullet journal and allow me to focus on a project.
- Your yearly/biannual/quarterly/monthly goals page. Simply bullet point what you’d like to achieve.
- A visual representation of the 3-act structure to see the climb in your story’s structure.
- A consistency page. A page to keep all the little details organised. Character eye colour, height, weight, job etc all in one space.
- An ideal writing routine.
- A one-sentence hook page. A space to practice your elevator pitch.
- Editing notes pages. Blank pages to brainstorm during revisions. Bring some colour codes into your notes to make revising easier by tackling them by colour. I use a traffic light system.
- Agent submission tracker. If you’re submitting to agents, having a list of the agent, agency, submission requirements, response time and the outcome of your submission is vital to keep on track.
The possibilities are endless!
3 REASONS TO USE A BULLET JOURNAL AS A WRITER
Using a bullet journal as a creator allows you to unlock another creative part of your brain. You don’t have to be good at art and design or able to draw.
If you can draw straight lines with a ruler then you’re good to go but it gives you the flexibility to doodle, colour, draw, design and make new spreads every month.
If you’re struggling with writer’s block, doing something else creative can give your writer brain a boost.
You can get organised. A writer’s life is often messy and all over the place, at least mine can be sometimes. A bullet journal lets you take the worry out of wondering where your writing sprint sheet has gone or that note you made about a character.
It’s portable. This is an obvious one but if like me you do not take your trusty laptop out of the house unless necessary, the bullet journal is great for actually, well, writing.
There are 250 blank pages in a bullet journal, I’m sure you can use some of those to write by hand when the inspiration strikes and you have all your notes at hand with you as you go.
I love my bullet journal. I’m on my second one now and I find it a trusty companion to not only make my writing life easier but it’s given me confidence in my writing and taken the worry out of plotting and organising so I can focus on my manuscript instead. I would love to hear if you’ve given this a try!
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About Serena-Louise Thomas
Serena lives in a small mining village in South Wales. She is currently drafting a new novel for Camp NaNoWriMo and is going to be querying her first book Ready to Fall in the next month.
Serena writes psychological thrillers, suspense and domestic noir with a flair for the darker side of human nature.
Serena works in victim services and lives at home with four cats that cause her allergies to go wild.
You can find her writing updates on Twitter or watch her process on her Youtube channel.
Ready to Fall
Maddie only wants one thing: to be safe. After moving to London, Maddie gets a new job that she hopes will be the perfect distraction from living with her violent boyfriend.
But it’s difficult to start over when making friends means someone might learn her secret—especially with her new boss, bereft CEO Nicholas York, wanting to get to know her better.
Struggling to overcome the murder of his partner, Nicky becomes dependent on Maddie to juggle his commitments. When her boyfriend goes to America for the holidays, Maddie boldly ends their treacherous relationship.
Knowing he will retaliate upon his return; she prepares to get herself somewhere safe. Maddie turns to Nicky when her plan to leave reaches a dangerous dead end. It will take all of Maddie’s courage and trust in Nicky and the police to survive her boyfriend’s return.
This post was written by a guest writer. Please check out their details above. If you would like to be a guest contributor on this blog, check out my Interested in Guest Posting page for details on how you can share your advice or do an author interview.