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The benefits of a writing bullet journal

Everybody’s been talking about bullet journals, how great they are, how they’ve changed people’s lives, how fun and pretty they are. But did you know that we as writers can also use them? There are specific benefits to using a bullet journal specifically for your writing life.

Combine with a classic writer’s journal

You’ve probably heard the advice to always have a way of taking notes with you. Back in high school my creative writing teacher assigned us to have a writing notebook and use it every day. We could do anything we wanted in it, not just write prose. Drawings, poems, mind-mapping, scribbling ideas that came in the middle of class… it all went in the notebook. We weren’t graded on what we did, just that we did it. If you’ve never tried this I suggest giving it a shot! I adored my writing notebooks. I still have them!

However else you use your bullet journal, leave space for all the miscellaneous bits of writing ephemera that your mind comes up with. Take a page to figure out a character arc or measure the pacing in your draft. Write a poem if the mood strikes you. Find pictures of your setting and tape them in, for inspiration. Think on the page.

Make it up as you go

Pantsers will love this one: because a bullet journal starts as a blank notebook you can do anything you want, whenever you want. A lot of people create a monthly, weekly, or daily spread as they go so they’re able to adapt their method based on their current needs.


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Because you don’t have to plan too far into the future you can also choose to insert things to do with writing that aren’t standard day-planner stuff, like maps, inspirational pictures, plot graphs, or anything else that comes to you.

Set goals for your future

A bullet journal can be both a day planner and a space for dreams. Take some time to write down all the things you aspire to do, then make a plan to achieve them.

Your writing goals are just as important as other life or career goals! Committing them to paper makes them feel more real. It also gives you focus. If your goal is ‘be a published author’ that’s pretty vague. There are lots of ways and places to be published. Do you want a traditional book deal? Are you ready to self-publish? Is a digital-only imprint going to satisfy you or do you want to hold a copy of your printed work? Choose something more concrete like ‘publish a short story in one of these three literary magazines.’

Your bullet journal is a great place to figure out these goals. As the video below demonstrates, there are lots of different ways to organize your thoughts and your page. I particularly like the tracker layout, because you’ll have reason to keep referring to it and you can see your progress over time.

Now, you don’t want to go planning for things that are outside your control as a writer. You can’t dictate to the universe what other people, like agents and editors, will decide to do. Planning is only for things you know are within your own power.

Not-so-great writer goals:

  • Get an agent
  • Get published
  • Get a book deal
  • Sell (N) books
  • Get edits back from editor
  • Hear back from anybody on anything! (Publishing is slow!)
Good goals for a writer:

  • Complete a draft
  • Revise a draft
  • Send to critique partners
  • Get novel ready to query
  • Write every day
  • Write (N) words a week
  • Attempt NaNoWriMo
  • Submit to literary magazines
  • Read (N) craft books
  • Do a weekly writing prompt

Track your progress

Remember how I said I still have my old writing notebooks? I love being able to look back at my progression as a writer. Because I thought on the page I have a record of what I was trying to achieve and how I thought I could get there. Sure, I cringe at some of the things my high school self thought and wrote, but I think it’s important to be able to recognize my growth.

If you look up bullet journal trackers you’ll get a ton of creative ways to go about it, and ideas for what to track.


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Bullet journal tracker ideas for writers:

  • Words written per day/week/month/year
  • Hours spent writing/outlining/revising
  • Pages filled in journal
  • Pages revised
  • Submissions sent
  • Rejections & acceptances received
  • Life cycle of a manuscript (drafts and revisions to get to done)
  • Darlings killed
  • Books read in your genre
  • Books on writing craft read
  • Books outside your genre

Stay focused

You may not want to use a bullet journal for your whole life, you may want to use it only for one area–writing. I think that’s an awesome idea. By dedicating a journal to writing you are making physical space for it in your life. When you carry it with you it’s a weight that reminds you of your priorities.

A journal that’s all about your writing means you value your writing and your goals.

Finally… don’t lose it!

Don’t forget to write your contact information in the front of your notebook! It would be a tragedy to lose all that hard work. This way someone can reach you if they find it.

How do you use a writing notebook or bullet journal to stay on top of your writing goals and tasks?

Use the power of bullet journals to prepare for NaNoWriMo

This course provides everything you need to prepare to write a novel–not just any novel, but a winning National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) draft!

  • Identify HOW you should prepare
  • Choose WHAT you want to do from 13 Tasks
  • Estimate how much TIME you really have
  • Set weekly GOALS
  • Have a flexible PLAN OF ACTION
  • Draft with CONFIDENCE

This is a one-time fee that will give you open access to the course. Use the materials over and over again!

Get help from a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner who always does prep work. Give yourself the best possible chance of winning NaNoWriMo this year!


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