Editing Using Your Bullet Journal

You’ve done it. You’ve written your first draft and you’re HECKIN’ excited!!!

As you should be! But, now you have to get on track for editing this sucker. And you want to use your bullet journal to help you! 


Thats okay! I know a few good tricks to get you started editing in your bullet journal! 


Step 1: Set Up a tracker

I have one that I’ve set up in my bullet journal. It works for me for the first four passes and then I need to make a new one. The thing is, I have to do EIGHTEEN PASSES before I think it’s ready for beta-reading and querying...

Yeah. There you go. That’s my whole Checklist! So tracking each step, scene by scene is a good idea.  

Step 2: Read and DONT TOUCH, just make notes in the margins or in your journal.

Really, just don’t yet. Even though you’re gunning to go; just read it. Read it again. Read it one more time.  

Write down notes in the margins of your manuscript, write down notes in your journal, write down notes on stickies and stuff.  

Just about the big stuff, not grammar or anything. Just plot and characters.  

Okay here we go...

Step 3: Write down your action steps on EACH draft, what are you going to be refining?

  • Draft 1
    • Post outline!
    • Meta data
    • Character color code
    • List of questions
    • List of emotions
    • Find and Replace
      • Then
      • And
      • But
      • Says/said
      • Shrugged
      • Very
      • Yes, but; no and
    • Grammarly pass 1
  • Draft 2- Be rid of white room
    • List of all settings
    • Settings meta data
    • Detailed character profiles Yes, but; no and
    • Grammarly Pass 2
  • Draft 3- Side Quests and Character Voice Changes
    • Partial Passes making sure each POV has the correct voice for each character.
    • Outline again!
    • Grammarly Pass 3
  • Draft 4- FILL THE PLOT HOLES!!!
    • Grammarly Pass 4
    • Step 4: walk through EACH step carefully

I’m going to be offering a printable soon with each step of my writing process laid out carefully. But for now, just make your own checklist and follow each step.  

Step 4: Put. It. Down.

 I am serious. Walk away. Put it down for a month and use your writing time to work on something else. It’s okay. You may need to get away from the emotional tension between you and your manuscript.  

Step 5: READ something by ANYONE ELSE

This is another good thing to do during your “Put it down” phase. 

To write you must read. The end.  

I know quite a few writers who don’t read enough and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! 

I was even told by someone once that they DONT LIKE TO READ.  


If you don’t read you can’t write. It’s not stealing ideas, it’s sketch studying a master.  

Step 6: Read it Again

Pick it back up and read through it again. Make notes. Make more notes. Just read it. 

And don’t just read with the eyes of a writer, though that is a useful perspective.

Read it like your reader.  With all the twists and turns. Write down, beat by beat, the emotions they you want your reader to feel as they are reading.

Step 7: EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. 

Work through your editing checklist slowly and methodically, scene by scene. Make sure you’re making lists that you need to make. And edit it again.


There you go! That’s how I edit using my bullet journal. I really hope that this helps you out on your journey to pulling together your final draft. 

Make sure to jump on that email list if you want to see more and to snag my Novel Starter Kit to jump start your next project! 

Happy Writing!

-Zoë Fleischer  

The Ginger Wordsmith 🐙 

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