Like most writers, I’ve been journaling for years. I always struggled to find things in my uneventful childhood that were worth recording and relished every Nancy Drew novel that I dragged home from the library in my canvas Summer Reading Challenge bags. I fantasized about a life like Nancy’s– one worth writing about.
As I got older, however, I realized that my journal could be used for far more things than just recording the exciting adventures that I sat around, with pencil poised, waiting for. And yours can too!
Last year I was introduced to bullet journaling for the first time and I was excited at the prospect of finally filling up all those blank notebook pages that haunted me throughout my writing career. I didn’t realize until months later how helpful this form of journaling could be for writers.
What is Bullet Journaling?
The bullet journal method was created by New York-based designer, Ryder Carrol, who sought a way to “track the past, organize the present, and prepare for the future”. Initially, bullet journaling was a minimalistic form of organizing one’s ideas in simple bullet points with a black and white, straightforward approach. Through the years however, bullet journaling has taken on a far more artistic style and the lines between neat organization and creative spontaneity have begun to blur. Bullet journaling is now a helpful way to track your progress and ideas in a creative and colorful way.
Bullet Journaling for Writers
I know you’ve probably heard it a thousand times, but it’s true: writing is hard. Any way to keep your writing life organized so you can more effectively use your time to tackle the task of actually putting words on paper, is helpful. That’s exactly what bullet journaling can do for you. And you don’t need much to get started! Only a blank, dotted notebook (smaller is better for portability) and a few colorful writing instruments.
Here are a few ways that bullet journaling can be beneficial to writers, and some ideas for what to write about if you’re stuck getting started:
Color Induces Productivity
One of the ways that bullet journaling can be more helpful to writers as opposed to regular journaling is the artistic style of it. Studies have shown that brighter colors encourage creativity and productivity. In other words, bullet journaling gets your creative juices flowing! Many writers are creative in more ways than one. We have a strong desire to create something lasting and worthwhile; a story that will resonate with readers everywhere. But once in a while, it’s okay to create something that just resonates with you. Bullet journaling allows you to play with colors and words in a unique new way, different from the standard black and white Garamond that we’re used to.
Anyone who’s tried bullet journaling before knows that it can be a bit time consuming. But this is good! The process of slowing down and taking the time to put things down on paper allows you to really think about and fully process what you’re writing, whether that’s your writing goals for the week or the list of literary magazines you submitted to this month. And who knows, all that time you spend left to your own thoughts may spark new ideas for your next story!
There are so many things you can keep track of in your bullet journal from To-Do lists to diary entries. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Track your progress on current writing projects.
- Flesh out ideas for new stories.
- Record information on magazines and publishing houses that you want to submit to.
- Track the magazines and publishing houses that you’ve already submitted to.
- Get your goals out of your head and on paper where you can see them.
Here’s a look at the spread I made while I was working on this article. It helped me keep my ideas all in one place so I could stay focused when I sat down to work.
A Note on Perfectionism
It’s important to remember that one of the things that makes bullet journaling so special is its individuality to each person. It is unique. Your own little catch-all for every crazy thing inside your head. That being said, scrolling through your Instagram feed and seeing image after image of perfectly hand lettered spreads and delicate watercolor paintings can cause you to feel pressured to make every spread in your journal perfect. But that’s one of the best things about bullet journaling: it’s not perfect. It is whatever you want it to be. Don’t feel like you have to make it look exactly like someone else’s. Where’s the fun in that?
In the end, always stay true to you and your own writing style.
Hailey Sander is a high school student from Ohio with the dream of making journalism her full-time career one day. In the Fall she will be starting online College courses for the next two years with a focus on English and Social Media management, in addition to finishing her final two years of high school. Besides writing, she loves to read, bake cookies, and snuggle with her two cats.