My Writing Journal

The year wanes so this is a good time to talk about my writing journal, which I’ve referenced, but never fully explained. Too, I’m about to retire it to become reference only — after FIVE years. It began as a basic bullet journal and evolved over time.

Courtesy: Pixabay

Courtesy: Pixabay

If there’s a key word for this post, it’s accountable, my accountability to the journal and how it’s kept me accountable in return.

I’ll touch on some bullet journal basics, but for an in-depth look you can access countless blogs and YouTube videos.

After a long illness where I’d suffered frequent oxygen deprivation, I’d learned the value of memory aids. Too, back in 2017, after discovering an astounding pulmonologist, my creativity soared and I entered a writing renaissance. I was ready, finally, to take my writing to another level.

Enter my unexpected encounters with references to bullet journals, a way to record plan for both the short and long term and keep me accountable.

In December 2017 I decided to give it a try and have now been faithful to it for five years.

To Begin…

Most any book will do. What pleases you is what matters. What is important is that it open flat. After years not working while sick I was strapped for cash so I spent $5.00 on a lined, hardcover book with over 300 pages.

*While this is a writing journal, I also include major life events.

Like many bullet journals, page one explains the shorthand-like symbols I use. Next comes an Index for the entire journal, its needed number of pages difficult to estimate (I overestimated).

The Future Log for 2018 follows. It’s basically a reminder schedule for the year. I devoted four pages (two, 2-page spreads) that first time. After that log begins my recurring monthly format, which is a 4-page spread…

  • Page 1 is Checklists, drawn charts for tracking my health related efforts like walking.
  • Page 2 is Inspiration. I can make entries throughout the month, but more often do so at month’s end. It’s almost exclusively about writing.
  • Page 3 is the month’s Calendar where I include anything and everything.
  • Page 4 is Tasks. Again, 90% of the time it’s writing related. It might be vague (“write short stories”) or specific (“perform continuity edit on Aramon Daughters”). Too, mapmaking or even worldbuilding tasks often appear.

Changes

I’ve made some significant changes over time. For instance, beginning in 2019, I changed the Future Log to one divided page. The other half of the 2-page spread lists annual Goals. I also reformatted the Checklists, Calendar, and Tasks pages to free up 33-50% of the page free below for critiquing my efforts.

paint-2985569_960_720

Courtesy: Pixabay

Remember, accountability! Those passages are both supportive and sarcastic.

These days, I’m more creative and casual in my approach. Comparing 2018 and 2022 months reveals a stark difference. In 2018 the pages are drab and businesslike in appearance and tone, the ink black with a little red for contrast.

2022 is all about color!

I now use colored pens and highlighters to make each month a different, fun experience (color exploded on my pages during the worst of the 2020 lockdown). Now, too, I apply a different color tab to each Future Log page to aid finding each year.

Special 2-Page Spreads

To clarify, this is two facing pages spread open.

These are the most fun and serve any need, be it once or multiple times. My most memorable one appeared between August and September 2019: Stories: What’s Important to Me. At the time, I thought two pages was wasteful, believing I’d list no more than five or six items. The list now stands at 23 and has profoundly impacted my writing.

Another special spread is an infrequent series I call Writing Tips. It’s for, quite simply, writing advice I don’t want to forget. Over five years there’ve been nine total (I number them as a part of the title).

The special spreads make the front Index vital. Each spread, be it monthly or special, is listed there with page numbers. I’ve also begun color-coding special spreads in the Index.

Final Thoughts

My next journal is waiting beside my desk. I’ll start formatting it at the end of this month. Before then, I’ll create retrospective and planning spreads in my 2018-22 journal since there’s room available.

That journal is now a reference and record, but between its covers are hopes, dreams, laughter, and some tears. In short, memories spring to life on every page.

Keep in mind, this is my approach. Give a writing bullet journal a try, make it your own. Make it a businesslike record or adorn it with artwork. Your life dictates how it should look and what it should include. Experiment. It’s a book of possibilities waiting to keep you accountable.

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About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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