Whether you have a bullet journal (bujo) or not, these are some simple ways I like to track my writing habits and keep myself on-task. For the self-rewarding, there’s no better feeling than checking something off your to-do list. Even if you added it for the sole purpose of checking it off immediately.
My bujo has finally reached the point where I have most everything streamlined. I like my setup, it works well, and I don’t feel overwhelmed by all the things I must track or do or make. I’m not insanely busy nor do I twiddle my thumbs for hours, so my bujo is pretty sparse when it comes to trackers and weeklies or dailies. In fact, I said to hell with separating weeklies and dailies a couple months ago.
I love my layout and the many different ways I use my bujo to help my writing process or keep track of queries or submissions.
1. Word count goal and tracker
On my daily-weekly mash up, I not only keep track of my habits, like writing, reading, and dining out, but I also keep a word count bar. My weekly goal is 4,000 words and after each day or session, I fill the bar up to my week’s total. I usually round to the nearest quarter ~1250 or 1500 etc.
2. Running To- Do List
In the picture above, you can see two small to-do lists in the bottom right-hand corner of my bujo. My list doesn’t often total more than 3-4 things for either general or writing, so I can keep this here on my daily-weekly mash up. If you have an insane list for either general or writing, I’d maybe move this to weekly or monthly. Sometimes, though, I have a big project with an even bigger running to-do list…
3. Revise and edit tracker
… and so I give the project it’s own page. Often, I flip ahead to after the fourth daily-weekly mash up of the month so it doesn’t interrupt the flow, or if I know it’s an upcoming project I’ll place it at the beginning of the month.
This month, July 2016, I’ve been revising in preparation for #PitchWars and didn’t have a running list of edits to complete as you see above (you can also see how much my layout has changed from May to now). This revision was about hacking my MS apart. I added a totally new plot thread, changed subplots, completely re-wrote entire portions of the book, and it just couldn’t be tracked in my bujo. That was all done in Scrivener… or that extra piece of paper in the picture…
5. PitchWars Mentors (aka spreadsheets)
When prepping for #PitchWars, mentor mini interviews were released for every category–A, NA, YA, and MG. I recorded all the names of the A/NA mentors, what they wrote, their editing style, their MSWL (manuscript wishlist) preferences, and the vibe I got from them. You gotta vibe with whoever you work with when it comes to writing or the partnership is doomed from the start.
When the MSWL posts came out, I taped over the mentors who didn’t want my genre (sorry I wish you all wanted SFF, too) to narrow down my choices. I also color coded who I really wanted to submit to down to who I probably couldn’t submit to (if they wrote romance, the chances were slim for me. Sigh).
6. Query Tracker (aka more spreadsheets)
Sending out queries sucks, but making the bujo spreadsheet wasn’t too bad. Much less rejection from your bujo! Anywho, I have four columns for date queried, name and company, which query I sent (because I revise that shit on the weekly—at least it feels that way), and date/reply. As you can see, my tracker isn’t full and it’s all rejections. Yay? Here’s to hoping #PitchWars goes well! And the latest revisions have made my MS better.
7. Important Milestones
Each month I record important events with small pictures and a caption. I always mark when important writing milestones happen, like starting a new WIP, starting my query journey, competing in Query Kombat, or getting new, awesome CPs.
5. Work Weekend Goals
One of my girlfriends and I try to go away for a weekend every-other month to hermit in a hotel room and do work. She sells crochet, knitting, and calligraphy. I write. And we have an awesome time. When I go away on these weekends, I like to create a list of goals for my time, as you can see below.
6. Habit Tracker
As you can see in a few pictures above, especially at numbers one and three, I have a small habit tracker on my daily-weekly mash up. I use it to keep myself on-task and see where I need to make more time or cut back on something. In July, the read and crit row has been stark almost the whole month because I’m focusing so hard on revisions. I can’t even get into a book lately, it’s horrible.
7. TBR Pile
If you bujo at all, I’m sure you’ve seen this template around the interwebs. I idiotically made mine two pages like I need that much space to track my reading right now. It’s okay, though, because it just means more room for books without the actual books, which works because I live a nomadic existence.
I honestly haven’t finished a book on here (I have finished books, but I didn’t do that thing where you write it in after you finish so you can mark it off… whoops!), but I want to! Where is the time?
8. Inspiration & Encouragement
This is my favorite page in my bujo. It’s full of famous quotes and personal reminders and inspiration for me to refer back to. I love it.
There are plenty of ways to use a bullet journal, and one way isn’t right for everyone. Kind of like writing processes. Take what you like and leave the rest.