Organization Ideas Using a Bullet Journal [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Real talk, this week authors. I wouldn’t be nearly as productive without my bullet journal.

This weekend I’ve taken part in a panel with Next Chapter Con, I attended a meeting with our local Horror Writers Association Atlanta Chapter, I setup my next mailing list post set to come out September 19th, and chatted with some readers via email. That is a lot to keep track of for one weekend, and that’s not even everything on my to-do list.

A quick note before I begin. This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, a series where authors help authors through all aspects of their author career. I highly recommend clicking on the image above and going to check out all the other amazing blogs in this circle.

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about the benefits of using a bullet journal as an author, but looking down at my long to-do list and everything I’ve done this weekend, I think it bears repeating. Down to it’s most basic description, a bullet journal is a DIY to-do list to help keep track of goals, habits, lifestyle, etc. The beauty of it is that you can tailor it completely to your needs, unlike an organizer you buy and have to fit to your needs.

Above is a screenshot from one of my trackers. I used it when I got the first round of developmental edits back for Chosen, book 3 of the Stolen series. Now these are usually the edits that require the most changes for me. Sometimes they can require whole scenes to be removed or added, or even whole sections of the novel to be rewritten. I find this first stage to be one of the hardest parts of the editing process. Having a tracker in my bullet journal and adding a few cute stickers helps me to stay on track. I bubble in a circle when I’ve knocked out that many pages. I added a turtle at the bottom to remind me that being “slow and steady” is okay.

On this next example, I’ve listed out books that I’ve been inspired to write. (Sorry it’s blurred out, but there are some major spoilers on those pages!) Some of these may become future works in progress, some may never see the light of day again, but this is perhaps the most prized portion of my bullet journal. These pages actually came from last year’s bullet journal. I cut them out and pasted them in here, and then added more to one of the book ideas this year. It’s wonderful to be able to slowly build on these ideas as I get more inspiration for them, and bring the pages with me each year. I can slowly build on these concepts and return to them again and again. Right now I have four full pages dedicated to book planning.

You’ll also notice I’ve got tabs on the side of this bullet journal. I keep track of everything from Mailing List ideas, to wordcounts for works in progress, to my annual word tracker that I’ve included below. I’m a little behind on filling it out, but I’ll catch up soon.

Each year I change around the layout, add some sections I may or may not use, and get a better understanding of what I need to personally stay organized and on top of my goals. It certainly isn’t a perfect system, but it’s such a huge improvement from the stress and constant feeling of being overwhelmed that I had before I began using it. I can stay focused on my goals, encourage myself with my progress, and remind myself of why I’m doing this.

If you have never used a bullet journal, simply look up #bujo on Instagram, Pinterest, or Youtube. There are tons of ideas out there that might suit your needs. As an author, it’s been indispensable and I can’t even imagine how I would organize the multitude of things I keep track of now without it.

Here are some things I also track with my bullet journal which has made me very happy this year despite all the craziness going on:

  • Habit Tracker for cleaning, self-care, and productivity.
  • Movies and TV shows I’ve watched.
  • Books I’ve read.
  • Quotes I love.
  • Stories I have finished.
  • Music I love.

A bullet journal can be anything you need, whether for fun, physical and mental well-being, or for your author career. Do you have ideas on what you would use one for? If you keep one, I’d love to see pictures! I’m always inspired seeing how people use theirs.

21 thoughts on “Organization Ideas Using a Bullet Journal [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

    • Thank you! Yeah I used to do that too but now my layout is super simple. Stickers help cause I can make things a little nice without spending a bunch of time on it haha. Maybe I’ll post some pics of the layout I use now!

  1. I’ve been reading so much about bullet journals online, and my Instagram feeds has lots of pretty layouts popping up. And now your post! Of course as a writer I’m an avid note-book owner. I can never resist a pretty notebook, but maybe it’s time to expand my interest to a bullet journal. Thanks for the inspiration – I love the idea of pasting little images in, Loved your turtle. Slow and steady wins the race!

    Blog Hop: https://www.birdsofafeatherpress.com/10-amazon-categories/

    • Thank you! It’s really been useful for me, so I definitely recommend it if you haven’t tried one before. Mine is pretty basic compared to many I’ve seen. I’ve had to make it more for organization than looking pretty. 😂😅

  2. I really like the way you’ve customized this for the specific things you want to track. I am feeling like this is something I should try out… as my writing becomes more multifarious, with different projects, submissions, etc. it really is a lot to keep track of, and right now I’m basically not! Also, I love the stickers you’ve put onto those pages. Why not make the bullet journal beautiful too?

    • I’ve found that using stickers really helps to make it more fun without taking up too much of my limited time! Making trackers has helped me so much, and it feels so good each time I can bubble in a circle. I’m glad this helped!

  3. You and I so similar and yet, completely different! I love that. I use a journal as well, but not as specifically as you do. Though I have to say, I do love how you set up the word tracker. I can absolutely use that as a template for what I’m working on now. So good! Thank you for sharing this. (Side note, your journal looks so much more FUN than mine!)

  4. I don’t have a journal/diary or any kind – to be honest keeping one would give me stress at keeping it updated LOL. Good for you if this method works for you though. My schedule is two blog posts a week and an announcement prior to each new year what topic/theme my blog posts will cover every December. As Secretary of my local writing group our Board meeting minutes remind me of things I have to do. After saying that I do have electronic and physical folders for projects – freelance or writing novels. So in a way those are my trackers.

  5. My biggest barrier to journaling is my handwriting. You’re inspiring me to give it another go, though. I definitely have journals and each time I start out right with a system to tab pages and pencils that have erasers, etc, and stuff goes into the journal, but then at some point, it gets too messy for me to look at lol. Great post, Marlena! I particularly like how you’re getting future book ideas out of your head and onto paper so that there’s more room to think about current book ideas.

    • I have to get this stuff out of my head because otherwise it’ll drive me nuts haha. This is year three or so that I’ve kept a bullet journal, and each year I learn what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I use the habit trackers, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I make word trackers, and for other projects I might not. I’m getting better at figuring this out but it’s taken me a few years to get it right! I’m glad this helped you! ❤

    • Thank you so much! It’s been a work in progress to get it right, but I’ve learned that simple for me works best. And stickers with little accents of color. It’s taken me a few years to get it right though haha!

  6. I think having something physical to hold onto and look at and see everything productive you’ve done this year would be a huge mood booster, yes. And we could all use a mood booster in 2020.

  7. I’ve heard of bullet journals but really didn’t know how to use them. Thanks for the pictures. You have given me some great ideas! Bullet journals are part of the no content/low content journals that are selling like hotcakes. Have you ever considered publishing one to sell? I know, you’d have to add more pages to keep track of publishing!!
    JQ Rose

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