Since my first blog post about using trackers in my bullet journal was so popular, I thought it couldn’t hurt to do more in this vein. Clearly there are a number of authors out there looking for ways to keep on track when working on their novels. Heck, I was that way too not very long ago.
While trackers are wonderful for long-term planning and smashing out goals, what motivates you on the short term? I know during the work week, I don’t go flipping to my progress chart very often. I’m too busy fixing the nuts and bolts of work and life every day. So I wanted to find a way to give myself a little bit of a boost for squeezing in maybe just ten minutes of writing over my lunch, or maybe dedicating a whole hour one evening to tackling that scene, or giving myself the space to work on edits. Do you know what I found was super inspiring? Stickers.
Yes, I know, it’s very grade school. I remember helping my mom set up sticker boards for her classroom for a number of years, and seeing it slowly fill up as kids did awesome things. A sticker at the end of the day was a way to easily see how great you did, and made it easy to look back over the week to see how you did.
Guess what? It works for us adults too!
You can buy little flower sticker sheets at Amazon or Etsy. They’re adorable, and just the little burst of inspiration I needed to keep going some days. If I had a rough week, just seeing a bundle of stickers spread out over the pages made me proud. That was work on something I enjoyed. That was proof of what I accomplished, even if my word count had barely nudged, I did something worth celebrating.
Lately I’ll admit I haven’t written on my WIP as much as I would like, and seeing my pages lack those stickers makes me sad. Even their absence is motivating. But I’m getting that inspiration rolling again.
Of course, this little trick could work for anything that you want to work on a little bit each day. When my life gets really crazy busy though, I find that my writing time suffers. It’s hard to pull the words out and it’s hard to delve into my fantasy world, the characters, or the plot when life is pulling my attention in a dozen different directions.
Having an easy way to glimpse my progress helps immensely. Remember, all it takes is a sticker a day.
As an author, it’s tough going on a vacation. You get to go to a new place and have new experiences, but you only get to enjoy them for a limited time. It’s like your senses are all splayed out in order to soak up as many sensations as you possibly can. It doesn’t matter how long your vacation is, it always feels too short, especially if you hope or plan to use it for writing inspiration. You’re always afraid you’ll miss some kind of detail.
Soon I’ll be going on a trip down to the Bahamas, and I plan to write it off on my taxes for book research. This is the first time I’ve attempted it, and I’ve done some research on what all needs to be done. Basically you need to keep track of your individual expenses, and then make sure you work on your research a little bit every day.
I’m going to be bringing a travel journal to take down all the notes of places, to describe interiors, to map out locations, to really bring more than just a picture with me, but to bring a whole location home. Later when I’m working on this new book (we’re talking probably a year or more out right now), I want to be able to pull out my notes and see that entire scene again like it’s already been placed into my novel.
I’m going to try to define the feel that it gives off too. Now that’s something that doesn’t come across in any picture or journal. If you were ever in band and trying to tune the whole room at once, do you remember the upper note that would be heard dimly above the noise? It wouldn’t waver if everyone was in tune, it would ring, even though no one was hitting it. That’s kind of what I’m trying to capture in writing, that imperceptible note.
I’m really looking forward to it! I’m hoping it’ll give me some insight into things I didn’t notice before, or give me a few plot ideas.
I don’t really want to say too much on this future project because it is so far out and right now it’s just a hazy idea, but I’m planning on it to be another YA Horror novel in the vein of The Seeking – another book that’s in the pipeline. That one is at least out of the drafting phase.
Do you keep a travel journal with you or some way to document your experiences when you travel? What works best for you?
I’ve only been using my bullet journal since February, but now it’s become a staple in my writing career. It’s helped me remember important things to do, kept me on track with my goals, given me a creative outlet, and even made me healthier. Let me explain.
I scoffed at the idea of keeping a bullet journal at first. I thought I didn’t have the time to keep one and I certainly wasn’t as talented as some of the Youtubers I watched. Slowly though I got on the band wagon and began my own. It was an ugly start. I didn’t know how to organize it and I was using markers that were too fat for the pages, but that was okay. Soon I looked forward to my bullet journal time.
Then a few months later I was diving back into my unfinished YA Horror novel, The Seeking. By that point, I was starting to catch on to how useful this little journal was and figured it could help me in my writing. As you can see, my little word count tracker motivated me so much that I had to put in half steps just to have an excuse to fill it in.
Later on, I was dealing with the release of The She-Wolf of Kanta and had to figure out what to do with the Facebook event I would be leading. You know what was by my side the entire time? My bullet journal of course, with a list of times and events to keep me on schedule.
Now months later, I’m doing the first pass of edits for Stolen. You know by this point that I had to put a tracker in.
My poor bullet journal has been through a lot this year. It’s already almost full and it’s only July. I’m going to have to pick up another one soon to replace it. Do you know what I’m looking forward to though? On New Year’s Day of 2019 I’ll have so many trackers that I’ve completed in my journal. It’ll be concrete proof of all the work I’ve done this year. I’ll be able to flip through years from now and reflect on my first year as an author working on books instead of short stories, finally seeing major traction doing what I’ve loved for so many years. ❤️
Then I’ll setup my new bullet journal and start all over again!
If you’re an author or working to become an author, I would highly recommend starting a bullet journal. It was amazing how much more relaxed I felt getting all the things I was trying to remember out of my head and onto the page.
If you keep a bullet journal, what do you love about it the most?
If not, what holds you back from doing it?