How to Collect and Execute Ideas in Your Writers Bullet Journal
When you’d started your bullet journal, you got SUPER excited! You had high hopes for it and started every single tracker and collection you could find on Pinterest and Instagram.
But you didn’t write down that really cool idea for dinner you had a couple days ago. Or the novel idea that flashed through you mind. Or the reminder from your mom in that email.
Why? Because you didn’t know where to put them.
That’s not what this tool is for. It’s suppsed to help you out when your brain is a sieve.
So that’s why I’m helping! I’m going to show you how to never miss an idea EVER again.
Step 1: Proper Collections
Having dailies and monthlies and weeklies WILL NOT HELP YOU WITH IDEA COLLECTION. You have to use collections to your advantage. AND YOU MUST INDEX YOUR COLLECTIONS!
As a writer, I have several different collections in my bullet journal:
- Scene Ideas.
Characters are ideas deals for people I want to write about, obviously. I may want to add them to an existing sorry (rarely) or I want to base a whole story around them.
My Stories collection is JUST for ideas. Not for books I’ve already written or for stories in progress. It’s onlt for ideas that I want to execute later. If that idea becomes a book, a short story, an essay, or flash fiction is something that has to be decided later on in the writing process.
Scene ideas are for books in progress. This means I’m constantly thinking of scenarios for my characters and what would happen if they were in those scenarios. Those go in this collection and usually get checked off the quickest.
Now, if you’re not a writer, this could be problematic. What are you supposed to do if you are an experimental chef? Or someone who crafts?
THEN YOU HAVE TO EXPERIMENT!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you change the things that aren’t working. If the collection isn’t working, tweak it or get rid of it.
Tweaking means migrating ideas from one collection to a whole new one. Getting rid of it means just that. Draw a great big x through it and don’t migrate it.
But this will ruin my BuJo Instagram profile.
Pardon my French but: who the fuck cares?
If you started a bullet Journal for any other reason than you, you started it for the wrong reasons and it’s time to re-evaluate that.
Doing a BuJo because it’s a hot thing on Instagram is DUMB. You need to do it for you and your brain. NOT because the pictures are pretty. And if things aren’t working for you, then can it and be frank. Post a picture of a Spread with a BIG BLACK “X” through it with PRIDE! It didn’t work and that’s OKAY.
Step 2: Proper Use of Electronics
If my bullet journal is my external hard drive, then my iPhone is just A BIGGER EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE THAY NEVER LEAVES MY SIDE.
I use Evernote for my idea collections, with certain notebooks for categories and specific notes like collections in my bullet journal. This keeps my formatting CONSISTENT so that it requires MINIMAL effort to keep my ideas straight and migrated between devices.
It’s also cloud synced between my computer and my iPhone, so I’m always up to date. The cloud is a FREAKING GOD-SEND.
However, there are TONS of note taking apps on the App Store. So dig through and find the best one for you.
After Evernote, most of my novels are written in Scrivener, another cloud synced app. Scrivener is used by thousands of authors for formatting and keeping novels organized. I’ll show you how I write a novel in Scrivener another day.
It I love that it has a MOBILE app now. It takes away EVERY excuse for not writing. I can write while NURSING. It’s amazing! I highly recommend!
Step 3: Proper Migration
Now, migrating between notebooks is one thing, but I’m talking about migration between your collections and your dailies and monthlies.
There IS going to come a day when it’s time to take that idea and EXECUTE.
SO, you have to take the idea and break it down into actionable steps in a SEPARATE COLLECTION.
I know. It’s hard. Suck. It. Up. Do the hard thing NOW so you’re not lost later.
After you have your list of steps, choose a day for step one and WRITE IT IN YOUR DAILY. Make sure the master task list is referenced in your monthly and weekly (if you have one) and GET TO IT.
For me, this mostly looks like my book outlines. I take my super basic Landmarks Style Outline and break it down. Then, assign days to when those landmarks are going to be written. Often this happens the day before, rather than months before? Just because of my writing style and the nature of the Landmarks Outline.
When I tackle my writing like this, piece by piece, it makes me whole novel feel MUCH less daunting. And it makes the writing process more accessible.
Step 4: Proper Task Tracking
All I really mean here is one thing.
WHEN YOU DO THE THING, MARK IT OFF THE LIST/ LISTS.
That means ALL the lists. All the collections in your journal.
Don’t know where those are? You should have INDEXED those collections, now, shouldn’t you?
When you KNOW the thing is done, checking it off will give you a TANGIBLE feeling of progress and will make you want to continue the thing!
When I’m in the middle of a book, word count is NOT how I measure success. I do this by knowing I’ve hit the Landmarks of my story. When I check one of these off, it keeps me motivated! I know I can do this because the Landmarks are being hit and I know where I’m going!
That's all I have for you today! Thank you so much for reading and I hope this helps!
See you very soon!
-The Ginger Wordsmith 🐙