• Crit & Pen

How to Use a Bullet Journal as a Writer

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Vogue has called it: "KonMari for your racing thoughts," but bullet journaling is just one method of many to record the things important to you.

Bullet journaling, or BuJo for short, was first created by Ryder Carroll to help him remain organized and productive in a way that worked with his learning disability. Since then, it’s evolved into a planning phenomenon! If you’re Type A (like me) and would like to add a little more “routine” into your writing routine, this post will help you decide whether a bullet journal is a good option for you.

First things first: What is a bullet journal?

To keep a bullet journal, all you need is a pen and a notebook of dotted or graph paper. Yes, they’re typically handwritten, but there are online options if you’re more of a digital person. But here’s the kicker: humans are more apt to remember and consciously consider things that they have written down.

Whatever your choice, a basic bullet journal will have these elements:

  • An index: your table of contents.

  • Logs: your lists of things to do and remember in thoughtful format with organization.

  • Rapid logs: your lists of things to do and remember in quick format without organization.

  • Collections: your information organized by content, such as habit trackers, fitness, or even characters!

So, how can writers use bullet journaling?

The easier question would be, how can we not?

You can use a bullet journal to plan your novel, set a writing routine, measure your writing habits… The limits to what we can do with bullet journals practically doesn’t exist.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Create your index and number your pages.

You don’t need to have everything in your index filled out yet. You can add things to it as you think of them. Just remember to go back and finish it so you can find your pages easily.

2. Make your planning logs.

Let’s start with the future.

What long term goals, appointments, or other things do you need to track? Reserve a page or so to list them, then make your monthly logs. They can be simple and clean, or you can make them fancy with full, decorative spreads.

The choice is yours, but the objective is to record important things like deadlines, contracts, proposals due, and writing goals you might have for the month. The bullet journal is made for being detailed and organized, so organize it however you’d like.

3. Create your collections.

Collections are things you want to remember, like a list of books you’d like to read—or, conversely, a list of books you have read. Sometimes it’s nice to go back at the end of the year and see what you’ve done so you can reflect.

Here’s where you can also track your writing habits. How many days did you write this month? How many words? This can also help you see any patterns. Maybe you write less on Tuesdays because you tend to run more errands that day than the others. Once you’ve realized that, you can make Tuesday the day exclusively for errands, thus freeing your other days for more writing.

Neat! What else can I use a bullet journal for?

Lots of things! Here’s a totally incomplete list of potential things to keep track of to get you started:

  • Your outline

  • Chapter breakdowns

  • Scene breakdowns

  • Character biographies

  • Settings you want to include

  • Themes you want to include

  • Research notes

  • Plot holes you need to fix

  • Writing resources

  • Writing inspiration

  • Random future WIP ideas

  • Songs to listen to while writing

  • Weak words to avoid/Strong words to use

You can also use a bullet journal to create your checklist of things to do once you’re done writing, such as writing your query letter, your author bio, your synopsis—even a list of which publishers you’ve contacted and which ones you want to email.

But beyond writing, it’s important to remember the things that help you write. Not only is BuJo good for tracking your novel and your writing; it’s also incredibly useful to track you.

Me? What do you mean, “me”?

Create a log for your mental health. See the days that you aren’t feeling well and track the pattern so that you can better accommodate these days, or find a way to fix it.

Track your self-care, too. This will help you remember to take care of yourself to avoid burnout. Make it a goal to set aside time to relax, or read, or take a walk around the neighborhood.

You can also track your meals. Are you eating enough? What are you eating? Is it healthy? Or junk food? This could also lend a hand to figuring out why some days you feel foggy and you aren’t hitting your writing goals.

That’s all for now!

The Bullet Journal was designed to help you track and organize your life. It gives you focus and records your goals while giving you the ability to look back and reflect on the progress you’ve made.

Looking back and trying to remember what writing goals you’ve completed and what steps you’ve taken to launch your author career is harder than you think. But having it written down in front of you can show you how impressive and accomplished you’ve become.

Have you ever used a bullet journal for your writing? Has it helped you? Sign up for the newsletter for news on the soon-to-be-launched shop, where you can buy one of your own!


Check out more of the latest: