How to Set Up a Kick Ass Writer's Bullet Journal

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When starting a Bullet Journal, it can be a daunting experience, to say the least! There are SO MANY beautiful examples all over Instagram and Pinterest, so many blogs dedicated to the creative bullet journaling community. It can be hard to cut through the chatter and get the tools you need to make the system work for you.

Today, I've got tips on setting up the BEST Writer's Bullet Journal for you, so you can crank your writing to the next level!

Step 1: The Tools

Of course, you're going to need a journal! 

This one is my favorites, and the one I'm about to move into. I like the fact that the pages are prenumbered and it has an index in the front. So you can skip a couple steps!

BUT: THE BEST JOURNAL TO USE IS THE ONE YOU HAVE!

Use the journal you're currently in, the journal you just bought and haven't dared break into, the journal you've always loved. Just make it happen!

If you want to know more about my tools, be sure to read about it here!

Step 2: The Key Page

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Of course, I suggest using the key from Ryder Carrols original system. It doesn't need much altering to become a really great key! Make sure to check out his website to get that started.

If you would like, slap a couple more modifiers in there! You can add modifiers or bullets for

  • character idea
  • scene idea
  • writing prompt
  • book idea

Those would all be great additions to keep you on track! 

Step 3: The Index Page

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This is how you archive in the Bullet Journal system. It's how you can find that AMAZING idea for a book you wrote down a few months ago. That FANTASTIC twist they came to you at 3 in the morning. That character that is BEGGING to have their own peice of short fiction.

Using the original system is the best way to do this and making sure those collections you make get archived here is imperative. So... 

Number your pages.

This will make it easier to log in the index.

No redundant collections

Even though it's tempting to move it further in your journal, or categorize your collections into cute little niches; YOU MUST RESIST.

Make Long Winded Plans LATER

If you get bogged down in the details in a brain dump or just a simple collection, you'll forget what you're writing about. Get it out on paper and then move the f*ck on  

Step 4: The Future Planning

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I do this 8 months at a time, but you can do whatever works for you. Three months. Six. A year. Two years. Do it so that it works for your brain. THAT is what matters. NOT what everyone else does. What works for YOU? 

Step 5: The Monthly

Ah yes. This. This is where shit gets good.  

First. Set up a monthly spread that works for you.  

This can look like the original Ryder Carrol spread.

This can look like Kara's from Boho Berry.

This can look like what this crazy person does.

Tons of respect here. This is amazing and artistic and WOW! 

Whatever this looks like, make it happen. And... CHANGE IT IF ITS NOT WORKING. That's the reason this system exists; it can change when you need it to change.

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Then, we do a monthly word count tracker. Set up a cell for each day and the left is the count. You can fill it in like a bar graph or do dot-and-line. Just what works for your brain.

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That is, if you have a first draft novel you're working on. This is not something I suggest if you're in the drafting stages.  If you cut a huge scene one day and don't make it up the next, you will feel so discouraged to fill this out. Make it easy on yourself and reserve this for first drafts only.  

On this spread, make a goals list. This doesn't have to be extensive or fancy, just three or four goals that you want to complete on your story this month.

After tha throw in whatever monthly spreads you like to have. This can be:

  • Goals lists
  • habit trackers
  • sleep trackers
  • exercise trackers  
  • mood trackers
  • gratiude log

So many more monthly spreads! Troll around on Pinterest and play with these month to month. Use what you like, get rid of what you don't! Your monthly spreads are going to look very different from mine!

Step 6: The Weekly

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This is optional; but I do find it easier to break down my months into weeks, that way my goals are easier to swallow. Bite sized chunks! You complete a manuscript a word at a time! So your goals should be no different!

If you're looking for inspiration, I modified my weekly spread from Life By Whitney. Her blog is well thought out and I super love how fluid her weekly set ups are! Her spreads are a wonderful example of how adaptable the Bullet Journal system truly is!

The trick again, is to take a spread you like and modify it until it works. Something not working; just tweak it until it does. Lay out the whole spread in pencil and then do the pen. 

Final and prevailing thought:

IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE PERFECT!!! 

The only person putting that pressure on you is you. And the beautiful examples on Instagram can be scary, but as long as it works for you and gets the job done. That's perfection! 

I make this on Saturday, during my morning planning. Then, my next week is visual and ready to get filled for your next week! 

If you have questions, reach out! I'd be happy to offer pointers, resources, and encouragement! DM me on Instagram! Make a comment below!

Step 7: The Daily

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HERE is where SHIT GETS DONE, SON! 

Here is where you put your to-do's, appointments, notes for characters, phone call notes, agents to follow on Twitter, novel ideas, etc. This is where they GO!

If you want to know more about my process for idea collection, I will be doing a blog post soon, so sign up for my email list so you know when it goes live!

Your daily spread is your ritual, every day. Doesn't have to happen in the morning, or even at the same time if that doesn't work for you, just make it happen!

Sound familiar? 

A little bit like your writing ritual? 

Huh... weird... 

I could say "do it after you've written in the morning for your ritual" but my writing happens at night, right after blogging. I write a chunk of an article and then I try to get in 500 words or 2 scenes edited.  

My planning ritual happens the next morning, over a cup of coffee. So telling you when to do it, when I don't even follow that mold, that makes zero sense.

First, I get my appointments migrated from my weekly to my daily and then I brain dump and migrate tasks. And it doesn't take up much space; half a page at most. I've played with larger dailies, but I just feel like I'm using too much space.

You can also put a daily writing prompt here and do a warm up, but I don't. I prefer to do that in an Evernote file. 

Step 8: The Collections

THIS is where your journal can really shine! This is where you slap:

  1. plot structure spreads
  2. character name lists
  3. lists of writing prompts
  4. lists of book ideas
  5. agents to query
  6. writing resource websites!
  7. names of the people in your writing group 

And SO MANY MORE! This is another post that I'm working on, so get on my email list

There you go! If this helps you start your Writer's Bullet Journal, I'd LOVE to hear about it! Send me a picture on Instagram!

Also, if you are interested, I would love to meet with you guys weekly in a live stream writing group! If you're interested in that, comment down below! Let's talk!

Have an AMAZING week! 

-The Ginger Wordsmith 🐙 

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