How I Use A Writing Bullet-Journal

A lot has been going on here in the hills.  Some stressed occurred recently I wasn’t expecting, along with some rain, so the ol’ arthritis is kicking up its heels at me.  It is, of course, attacking my right hand with swelling and painful fingers, but, I am still typing and still knitting.

I haven’t worked on FK in several days.  It feels like weeks.

I have written myself into a corner because an interesting plot thread appeared and I had to follow it to see if it was a good one or not.  Thankfully, the thread didn’t go too far.  This means backing up, reassessing and then moving forward.

Having to back up and re-work some sections is frustrating.  However, I let myself follow a thread I normally wouldn’t have and there were actually some good things that came out of it, even if it didn’t completely work for the over-all arcing story.  Information about characters I didn’t consider before became clear it needed to begin earlier in the story, and two very good scenes were glimpsed and are useful.  I’ve decided it doesn’t matter if they are just scenes hanging out in the file until I need them.  Usually, I go straight back to the point to where I think the scene should go, work it in, and then catch up with the rest of the manuscript.  I am not doing this with FK because I am uncertain of how well I am actually doing on a young adult novel.

At first, when I was deciding whether or not the scenes/plot thread worked or not, I created a file just for the purpose of letting it rest a couple of days and then returning with fresher eyes.  Even though it didn’t work as a whole, there was some good information out of it, and I am ready to move on to the rest of the adventure.

FK is the first story I’ve seriously tried to ‘craft’ in a while.  Luckily for me, the pendulum didn’t get out of control and swing so far into the ‘craft’ area – I am not spending my time worried so much about minuscule details and getting the timeline down to nanoseconds.  There is still a lot of creative freedom and an end-game I can glimpse.

Once again I must call on the merits and benefits of having a bullet journal just for this story.  Even seeing the notebook helps me get centered on the writing day, as well as ease some of the creative stress because I am not afraid I’ve called a character by two different names and descriptions because I know I haven’t because of the notes I’ve made in the journal.  What did I call that one area back in Chapter One?  I can just flip back to what it was called and continue on with the story.  Ideas about people?  There is a section for that, and specific questions I feel I need to answer in the over-all story arc.

The writing bullet-journal isn’t an end-all, be-all, magical thing to write your book for you.  It is there to be used as a tool, and it isn’t going to work if you don’t put down things in it or fill the writing bullet-journal up with graphs and cute pages.  The reason I bring this up is because I’ve received several questions about how I use the writing bullet-journal and then have received some pictures of the ones people have made and there are a lot of pages in there I don’t find necessary at this stage of the creative process such as dedication page ideas and samples, flowery decorated pages of encouraging quotes for a bad writing day, etc.

Here is how I use my writing bullet-journal:

  • I decided straight away there would probably be more than one bullet-journal for this novel, so made sure to write inside it was volume one.
  • Each novel in this particular series will have its own bullet-journal(s).
  • Index page – I count out four pages at the most and two at the least.
  • Chapter list and word-count for each chapter
  • A box graph showing me which chapter of the story I am currently on.
  • The main bullet-journal begins with the chapter number and name if there is one;
    • Under this heading go ALL names & descriptions of the characters;
    • Names of places with a note or two about them I want/hope the readers can remember;
    • Also under the chapter notation, and in a different color of pen, I list questions, make notes, and leave some space after for the answers discovered later on, or decided upon later.

The use of different colored pens helps a lot.  I also use high liters and colored pencils to denote something important, something I’m taking out, or something I’m changing.  I make sure to keep the chapter number and name on each page so I know when the chapters change.  Then, in the index, I list the page each chapter can be found on.

It isn’t difficult.  It makes sense.

Happy Wednesday.

Happy writing!

About Henrietta Handy

I have returned home to the mountains. No more am I "a mountain-girl far from home." Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 2 1/2, I understand pain, fatigue, laughter, joy, and love all while on crutches and in wheelchairs. This blog is just about me, mostly the writing side, but there are forays into so many different topics. I am married to a wonderful husband who puts up with my writing, knitting, yarn, with the love of a saint. We have fur babies, and one cat who rules us all.
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