Writing is a messy process. For an organized person like me, revising a novel can feel overwhelming.
There is so much to do: Develop flat characters, adjust the plot, review feedback from critique partners, check for overused words (“just” is my bugaboo). Not to mention detail work! If a character is described as wearing braces, how often do the braces have to be mentioned throughout the book? Should that detail be cut?! Her bands are red and black in Chapter 3, but purple in Chapter 12. Ack!!
This describes my state of mind in February, when I started a major rewrite of my next middle grade novel. The whole project like too much.
Then, inspiration struck. For a few months, I’d swapped out my personal to-do lists for a bullet journal. And while I didn’t follow #bujo techniques to the letter, the journal was cutting back on my list-writing time and helping me stay organized. Why not apply these techniques to my revision notebook?
This Saturday, I’m running a workshop for our local SCBWI chapter, “Bullet Journaling Your Revision Notebook.” You can find details and RSVP here.
My colored pencils and markers are packed. I’ve got stickers and rulers. I’m excited to share ideas with other authors.
This workshop and the resources in this post are for everyone, whether you:
- have never heard of bullet journals;
- are #bujo curious;
- use a bullet journal for day-to-day, but haven’t tried one for writing;
- or you’re are a literary bullet journal master.
My favorite YouTube videos for simple bullet journals:
How to Bullet Journal
*Short explanation from bullet journal system creator Ryder Carroll
A Dude’s Bullet Journal Walk-through
*Great for the basics
Easy Ways to Decorate Your Bullet Journal
*If you want to learn simple hand-lettering technqiues and embellishments
Bullet Journal for Writers
*Not for perfectionists! I love this bullet journaler’s inspiration page based on Lord of the Rings.
Check out these website and blog posts about bullet journals, especially for writers:
*Where the whole craze started
Something Delicious, “Bullet Journaling for Fiction Writers”
*Lists collection ideas for WIPs (Works in Progress)
BoHo Berry, “NaNoWriMo Bullet Journal”
*Ideas for setting up a new project
Writer’s Edit, “The Complete Guide to Bullet Journaling for Writers”
*Includes tips on tracking submissions and feedback from publishers
Page Flutter, “Inside My Writing Journal: The Ultimate Study in Craft”
*Our local SCBWI events coordinator, Sarah Maynard, found this amazing resource. Includes photos and explanations of color coding, and great journal page ideas/spreads for writers: 7 Key Elements of Fiction, The Hero’s Journey, and Three Act Structure.
Confessions of a Bullet Journaler by picture book author Marcie Flinchum Atkins
*There are some great page ideas for writers here: Mentor texts by category, “Book of Stars” — which is a “well-done you!” spread.
Peek Inside Kate Messner’s Bullet Journal
*Even famous authors use #bujo. It’s fun to see some of this beloved children’s author’s journal pages.
The Mixed-up Files Middle Grade Blog
This post has an extensive list of resources for writers who want to try bullet journaling.
The biggest tip I can share is this: Do what works for you.
I had a three-week window to complete my revision and turn it in to my editor.
My revision journal is profoundly lacking in calligraphy, embellishments, and colorful flourishes. But it has an index (the single most helpful bullet journal tool) and helped keep my thoughts organized as I was re-writing.
My everyday bullet journal has a few pages dedicated to book notes, including this one, decorated with a doodle.