How to Turn Your Writer's Bullet Journal into A Character Catalog

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Putting together your bullet journal, you realise that you have quite a few characters, scattered across several series with many different motivations and backgrounds. Maybe you should record all of that and put them into...

A character catalogue

Holy Shit woman. This feels like the biggest waste of time EVER. I need to actually take time to WRITE the damn thing. Isn't that what you've been telling me to do?

HowtoTurnYourWritersBulletJournalIntoACharacterCatalog

Yes! You should be writing and not fucking around in a journal!

Or if you're like me, blogging about writing and bullet journaling instead of writing or fucking around in your journal...

Wish I was joking...

My writing life is suffering guys. I love you. But dear LORD. Don't worry. I'm getting back at it and it will all be okay.

ANYWHO!

The reasons I like having a character catalogue

  1. It forces me to take a good look at my characters and see where I need to diversify and go deeper.
  2. I know if I can handle the number of side quests and other things that I've committed myself to.
  3. It allows my brain to rest from writing, but I'm still working on my writing project and don't feel like I'm not working.

All of these things are little steps forward. So if I can get a character's true motivations ironed out, even though I haven't opened up my word document, it's still little baby steps of progress.

So, here are my five steps to turning your writers bullet journal into a character catalog.  

Step 1: Download my Freebie! 

I WENT THERE BITCH!

I say it every week and I will keep saying it: I fucking LOVE my novel starter kit. It has all the things in it that I use every day. My scene checklist, my setting worksheet, and the bit that matters: the character worksheet  

Now, you have to relinquish your email, yes.  

But I’m not a dick about it; I am a responsible hooman and will only tell you kick ass stories and when I’ve posted something AWESOME.  

Step 2: Make A Master List of Your Characters

Okay, you’ve got your mitts on my kick ass freebie, now you have to make your master list.   

Don’t worry about organizing it now, you just need to get everyone out on paper.

For people who write epic fantasy and have a metric ASS TON of characters, this step might take you a while. But it will be worth it! 

A Side Note on Side Characters: 

Only do side characters if you want to be making character sheets from now until eternity. It’ll just be a time suck.

However, taking the time to lay it the mega basics is a good idea. At least physical features and motivation.  

Everu side character is the main character of their own story. Knowing that will allow your readers to connect with them much faster!

Step 3:  Organise that List

Okay! NOW you can organise this ish!  

And there is no rule on how you organise this. 

TBH, there aren’t any rules for any of this. I’m just throwing all my tips at your adorable face.

I organise my character catalog by book. In fact, each book has a separate insert in my travelers notebook and each of those books has a character catalog in it. 

I now use the travelers notebook system as a hybrid with the bullet journal system, because this allows me to archive my writing theory and my writing projects, which could take YEARS. 

This also splits up my character catalog just a bit, so I‘m working on putting together a little insert that is JUST my characters. So I can see it all at a glance.

This is what the whole idea is about; seeing everything from a birds eye view. 

I’ve talked about it in the past, but often writing can be wish fulfillment for us. We are able to have the adventures we never thought we would have in real life. 

But this is a double edged sword. 

If we start from this place, it's very hard to get away from characters who look, act, and feel like us. While its okay to START from this place, it's important to grow as a writer. And that means making protagonists and side characters who are different from ourselves.

This is where the character catalog will keep you in check. Then you'll be able to see when you've made this character before. You'll be able to know when you need to break out of your shell.

Step 4: Take it One Character at a Time

When you're building this character catalog, you could just dump everything into your writer's bullet journal at once. And that would be totally FINE. 

But...

You could take it slow and keep it in reserve for the days when you're not motivated to write.

Now, I preach that the best way to get over writers block is to write ANYWAY. But there are times when writing that scene just doesn't work, because we don't know what your character would do in this situation.

So how about sitting down and working on a worksheet, so that you can break out of the funk and get into writing again.

So, after you have that master list, put page numbers next to each character and lay them out.

Snag a page in your bullet journal and put the worksheet from my freebie in there. Then start working. 

And take it slow.

Just one character at a time.

And finish that character, then work on the next one. And the next one.

This is supposed to be theraputic and enjoyable. It's supposed to break you out of your funk.

It's not supposed to break you and make you not want to touch your journal.

So use it as a tool to get you back into writing, not as a chore you must complete before you are able to start writing. That's not what this is for.

Step 5: Just Keep Writing

Once you've got your character catalog set up in your writers bullet journal, just keep working on your book. Work on it until your brain is all fried and then use the character catalog as a way to give your brain a rest.

But don't use it as a way to procrastinate. Use it as a tool to keep you motivated. That's KEY.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post! Share it with a friend who needs to read it and make sure you follow me ALL the places! I also have a YouTube channel you should go check out!

Happy Writing!

Zoe Fleischer

The Ginger Wordsmith