Around Christmas, my bubble of writer Twitter started buzzing with people talking about making 2019 bullet journals. I saw threads full of beautifully decorated notebooks, sticky notes, colors, and all sorts of other organizational tools.
All of which I viscerally hate.
Okay, hate is a strong word, but organizing with tabs, highlighters, labels–all that stuff has just never stuck with me. I’d tried in school, beginning the year strong with notebooks and binders neatly organized, but it only took a few weeks for those to be haphazardly stuffed with papers in any random order. With binders in particular, I chalk that up to a combination between my left-handedness and laziness.
Now as an adult, I do at least have folders for my most important papers. They’re not very organized and a few are quite overstuffed, but they exist. Note charts, idea webs, and basically any graphic organizer ever? No, thank you. I was forced to use them in school, but now? Tables and lists are about as far as I go.
So, the little I saw of bullet journaling did two things: First, it convinced me that it was an artistic organizing thing that those really crafty girls with bubble handwriting do. Second, it confused me.
Yet in 2018, I did start writing things down more: daily tasks, grocery lists, thoughts about books I’d read, writing ideas/scenes, seminar/panel notes, and, most frequently, workout logs.
All of these I kept in separate notebooks. I also keep a daily word count calendar in Google docs along with other brainstorming documents. So, you can see that I had a lot of moving pieces in a lot of places. This didn’t bother me much at all.
Then, over the holidays, I watched a megsquats video where she mentioned keeping food logs and workout logs in a bullet journal. What? But all the writers were using the same thing for writing. How could that same thing work for logging and writing stuff?
Now thoroughly intrigued, I read up on bullet journaling and…became more confused. It sounded like, if I figured it out the right way, I could use a bullet journal to keep track of everything I wanted to in one place: word counts, household tasks, events, appointments, workout logs, groceries–anything.
But the setup seemed complicated until I grabbed a blank journal I’ve had for years and walked myself through it.
Reader, I married bullet journaling.
Kidding. The change in my life is not exactly earth-shattering, but it sure is helping me get things done. No, my bullet journal is not full of pretty colors or stickers. Right now, it’s strictly rapid logging with daily tasks and other regular lists I keep. Sprinkled here and there are a few writing notes, writing sketches, and thoughts on movies. I’ve made collections in my index for different writing projects, health tracking, and seminar notes. I’ve got my events for the next six months marked as well as events/appointments for this month. My daily pages are just large enough to list that day’s tasks, events, word count, and other short notes while my workout logs and grocery lists take up a page each.
Sounds confusing without looking at it, right? But that’s what bullet journaling is. It makes tons more sense once you set one up yourself and figure out not only what you want to keep track of, but how. Aside from the basic setup of an index, a future log, a monthly log, and daily pages, you can make a bullet journal be whatever you need it to be.
Personally, I don’t use mine for a lot of writing planning, but I have jotted down quick notes which I then transfer to my massive Google doc where I keep all my world building, character notes, and plot notes. The best part about bullet journaling is that I can keep all these different types of things I write down in one place, which actually makes me better at writing down daily tasks, appointments, and events. Because all of it is in a single book, that book is important for me to have around and to keep track of, unlike a separate reading thoughts notebook or a separate to-do list notepad. All of this stuff that seems unrelated can just exist together and it’s organized in a way that makes sense for me.
I am too lazy to keep track of a notepad for grocery lists/tasks and three different notebooks for everything else. Bullet journaling, thankfully, isn’t asking me to color code or make tabs or any of that stuff unless I want to (and I don’t).
With a new book coming out soon, another book I’m trying to finish, workout routines to keep up with, household tasks and projects to complete, and social and church events, I have so much more to track than I thought until I started bullet journaling. I used to keep most of it in my head or occasionally use the calendar app on my phone, but now I’ve got an organic method for keeping it all together.
Organizing like this will become more vital as my writing career develops. All the launch prep and promotion I’m doing for Lest I Know Your Weakness came together from small, daily tasks. One day, I might find myself needing to manage drafting one project, editing another, promoting a third, and plotting a fourth, each with their own deadlines. That on top of my other life stuff would just be too much to keep in my head.
I’m only a few weeks into bullet journaling, but so far I’m loving the simplicity and the flexibility. One notebook for everything I want to write down? Perfect.
Like poetry? Like Carmilla? Pre-order my new poetry collection Lest I Know Your Weakness today!
A twisted love story told in alternating poetic snapshots.
Intrigue, tension, darkness, beauty–Carmilla and Laura experience it all as they traverse the ups and downs of their relationship through poetic dialogue. Love is alluring and terrifying.