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Posts under Writing Goodies

Bullet Journaling for Writers

posted on: October 26, 2016
in: Blog, Bullet Journal, Write., Writing Goodies

I’ve been planning to do a blog post on bullet journaling for almost a year now…and it just keeps slipping out of my grasp. Which means that my task labeled BJ post (yes, I laugh every time I see it too) has reached the point in my to-do list process where I either need to do it or dump it (more on this in a moment). So I am doing it, because I don’t want to dump it.

If you’re new to the term Bullet Journal, I suggest a quick internet search. There are tons and tons and tons of posts about what a bullet journal is, how to use and make one, and so on. Don’t look too long at the BuJo porn pictures, however, because if you’re like me, you will become intimidated and distraught at how beautiful some of these journals are and how un-beautiful yours is and you will never make one. But, as I keep telling myself, a bullet journal isn’t about making shit pretty, it’s about getting shit done. (Although if you can also make it pretty, I have nothing but envy and best wishes for you).

Okay, so go do your googling. Don’t get lost in the pictures. Come back soon, and I’ll give you the quick and dirty run-down of how I use a bullet journal for writing.

Here are my main tools. I like to keep it simple and easy, since I move around a lot and often write in coffee shops and away from my desk. This is the whole shebang: the Leuchtturm1917 A5 dotted journal; a small Checklist Notebook (Efficiency Supply); PaperMate InkJoy pen; Fucking Brilliant pencil (Calligraphuck); and a wraparound pen/pencil holder.

bulletjournal-outside

 

Here are the main sections that I have in my Bullet Journal:

1. Yearly writing calendar. The next two years, divided into months, with the projects that I’ll be working on each month and their deadlines. I write them in pencil, because they move around a lot. When something is complete, I write it in pen in that month, so I can always go back and see what I was working on when.

2. Weekly spread. I keep my weekly spread clean and simple, partly because I have no artistic skills, but also because I need lots of room to write tasks and notes.

I make a simple calendar on the left. Each day, I write the things I’d like to accomplish in pencil and then if I do them, I erase them and mark them off on the main checklist to the right. At the end of the day, I might write in some stuff I did, or things I want to remember. The pink boxes are my 6 things to do each day. They vary from week to week. This week, they’re mostly about taking care of myself and not working too much, because I’ve had a hell of an autumn so far.

On the right, is the general to-do list of things that I want to tackle this week. I add things to the bottom of the list all week long as they come up. There is no general order other than WORK and NOT-WORK and YES and MAYBE. YES are things that must be done this week. MAYBEs are things that I’d like to do. If I move a MAYBE task more than a few times, it gets moved to YES or it gets dropped entirely (see my earlier note about writing this blog post!). If a task comes up that’s for next week, I just add it to the next spread, getting a jump start on next week’s to-do list.

If a task is tied to a project (see Projects, below), I put the main page number of the project after it for easy reference.

bulletjournal-weekly

3. Projects. I typically work on a LOT of projects at once. This is the way that I like to work, but oh my god, keeping track of the details of each one used to be a disaster. I’d have a separate notebook for each project, but then I’d forget to bring that notebook and I’d write notes in the wrong notebook and then I could never find anything. Then, I tried keeping every project in the same notebook by sections. But it was impossible to tell when you started a project how much room it would need, and some projects flowed over into other sections, while other projects had too much empty space, and I still couldn’t find anything.

This, for me, is where the bullet journal shines. I have a sticky tab that says PROJECTS. Behind that tab lives every single project I’m currently working on, completely organized and discoverable, while also being incredibly flexible. Here’s how:

First, every major project gets a main spread. Left side gets the giant to-do list for that project — everything that I think I will need to do in order to complete it. On the right-hand side, I make notes about deadlines, word count, publisher, contracts, anything and everything that I might need to refer to about the project.

This spread then gets a tiny fold-over dot along the edge in a unique color. In the image below, for example, you can see a pink dot near the front. That’s the main planning page for the No Thank You, Evil! Kickstarter that we just launched. This is also the page that the to-do list items refer to as well (which I mentioned earlier).

I made a few pages of NTYE Kickstarter notes, and then I needed to work on a different project, Predation. So, on the next empty page, I started writing about Predation. I tagged that page with a green dot. And so on. Every non-sequential page for each project gets a folded dot in that project’s color. This means that no matter where the notes on a project fall in your notebook, you can find them all easily. You’ll notice that I have three main projects here, and they all overlap. (That first page you see with three dots is the index–the names of the projects are written next to the dots there, so I can easily see which one is which).

Sometimes, smaller projects and general notes get interspersed between the larger projects. A lot of times these are what I call my thinking notes — places where writing helps me figure something out, but where I don’t need to go back and re-read that information. Once I’m done making ‘thinking notes,’ their work is done, and it’s okay for them to get lost in between the bigger projects.

Sometimes, the notes are things that I will need to find again in the future. Maybe an idea for a short story, or some title ideas, or whatever. Each of these pages gets a short title and page number written in the index in the front of the notebook. (That’s on the same page as the “dot index” I mentioned). Then, I can just scroll that list and find whatever I’m looking for.

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4. Lists. The very back of the journal has a section that is just lists. Things I love. Things I want. Things I accomplished. Gifts I’ve given. Books I want to read. They’re not comprehensive or complete, and I don’t need them to be. Instead, it gives me a place to write something down that isn’t a scrap of paper stuffed in a drawer somewhere.

I believe I’m on my fourth bullet journal for this year (and probably my last ~ this one might carry me as far as February or March of 2017). The first three are labeled (Leuchtturm1917 provides nice labels with each notebook) and tucked onto my shelf. Will I ever look at them again? I don’t know. But this year, they helped me lead a company, run two Kickstarters, write four books, and accomplish myriad other tasks, so I’d say they’ve earned their retirement.

And now, finally, I can go check that task ~ BJ blog ~ off my to-do list.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

Holiday Gifts for the Writer in Your Life

posted on: December 17, 2014
in: Blog, Uncategorized, Writing Goodies

What do you buy the writer in your life for the holidays?

Books. Next question.

However, in case you’re looking for something more (not better — never better than books!), here is a list of stuff that for me for the favorite writer in your life. But I’d love for you to add your own ideas — what have you always wanted for your writerly self that you’ve never gotten? What was the best writing-focused gift you received or gave?

  • A gift certificate to a local bookstore, paper store, or office supply place. Alternatively, a subscription to Audible.com or Oyster (like a Netflix for books). I read books in Oyster like MAD. It’s like the library just showed up on my iPad. Heck yeah.
  • Aquanotes. Because, hello, writing down my awesome shower ideas without having to drip water all over the floor and call downstairs for a pen and paper? Hell yes.

aqua-notes-home

  • Book or writing jewelry. Etsy’s great for this stuff, like this book pendant, this scripturient pendant … in fact, just search “writer” or “writing” on Etsy, and you could fill multiple jewelry boxes with cool stuff.
  • If you know your writer well enough to know how he or she reads, get them something cool to help with that. A pillow, a booklight, a thing that helps keep their Kindle at the right angle… all this stuff can be ubernice when we settle in for some rare and much-desired reading time.
  • Time. Speaking of time. Time and space might be the best gift ever for writers. Offer to walk my dog a couple of times or make dinner so I can write? I’m yours forever.
  • A subscription or membership to a writing organization, writing magazine, or fiction publication. Or an online writing class by Cat Rambo or Mary Robinette Kowal.
  • Caffeine, baby. Coffee drinkers might like a gift certificate to their local coffee shop or a subscription for coffee at home (Blue Bottle and MistoBox are two good options, but there are lots more).
  • This library stamp t-shirt from Out of Print Clothing, because no matter what anyone anywhere says ever, libraries ARE THE COOLEST. Out of Print Clothing is just chock full of good writing stuff, from shirts and bags to coasters and socks.

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  • Speaking of libraries, what about a subscription to The Librarians TV show or copies of the original movies, featuring Noah Wyle in his glorious adorableness?
  •  An art print of a famous closing line from one of the world’s best books. Beautiful and inspirational.

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Okay, writers and writer-friends, what great gifts did I miss? Throw them into the comments below!