Last year, I wrote a post about how I use my regular bullet journal to help track my word count, writing and revision goals, and keep myself motivated and inspired. Many people commented on the post, talking about how it’s hard to find bullet journal ideas for fiction writers and I couldn’t agree more.
So I bought a journal just for writing and I’ve been experimenting with layouts and ways to use it in my writing journey. Below, I’ve listed the pages in order of my writing process, from inspiration to plotting, writing, and then revision.
I migrated this page from my day-to-day bujo into my writing journal and am still fleshing it out, but so far—I love it.
Again, another layout still unfinished. Pixar makes some incredibly moving stories and I thought using their storytelling tips would be beneficial.
I debated moving this to plotting, but I think shiny new ideas are inspiring, and often my initial brainstorm ends up being a mess of ideas that don’t end up mattering to the story, world or characters. Whenever I do start brainstorming a shiny new idea, I often need to flesh out the plot, ask worldbuilding questions, and imagine the characters. This usually comes out as a list, which I try to dress up with doodles and fun headers and color.
Last week, I went a bit of a rant about story structure and how it’s so important to your story and should appear at some point in your process. I love beat sheets, they help me imagine a story as a story rather than a rambling clusterfuck of characters and plot events that barely relate to each other.
Below is a master beat sheet that outlines and explains each beat of a story in order. On the right-hand page, you’ll see the page number and word count numbers of where each beat should fall in a 80,000 word story. If you go to Jami Gold’s website and click over to her page, Worksheets for Writers, she has this exact beat sheet in an Excel spreadsheet with the equation already built in. All you have to do is change your word count goal to whatever and it will automatically work out where each beat should fall in your MS.
As usual, this is a resource and it is tailored to the needs of a large target audience. Sometimes your story will break these rules, or the beat will fall a few thousand words early or late—that’s okay! This is a flexible guideline. I’ve used this both in my journal and on my computer, but I couldn’t show you spoilers for my writing, now could I? *winks*
Below is a master outline of the Hero’s Journey. Your character arc (this outline) and plot arc (the above outline) should work in tandem, both for and against each other. The plot should play into the character arc and vice-versa. I find it super important to my process to have both of these filled out before I start writing because often I find I end up rambling into bumfuck nowhere and down a well even Lassie can’t get me out of if I don’t.
On my weekly-daily mashups (I don’t see the point in separating them and don’t have enough going on to require that I do so), I keep a word-count tracker (right-hand page, middle-left) where I record how many words I write each day. As you can see below, I finished my first draft of MoD on Thursday, December 08! This is the very reason I love my bujo—I can look back and remember incredible moments in my journey or just daily life.
You can also see that I keep track of writing and reading in my habit tracker (top-right corner), which I keep on my daily-weekly mashup spread rather than monthly. This is mostly because I’m really bad at looking back at spreads to fill them out. I forget about them and if I don’t have that reminder on the page I look at everyday—plus, I don’t have that many habits to track, honestly.
When I started my new bujo in January, 2017, I decided to keep a project tracker at the back of my journal. I put all my collections at the back of my bujos (except year-long goals and bucket lists, etc.) and then my monthlies, monthly memories, and weeklies at the front. The two categories “meet in the middle” when I eventually run out of room. I use quotes because more often, my collections only extend 20 pages in and that’s not really the middle.
ANYWHO. My project tracker is about visualizing my progress. I fill in a box for each 1,000 words written in the first draft, then for each scene revised, plus record what my focus is for each revision. I also like having a page dedicated to an MS, it gives it more importance and weight in my bujo—which is a reflection of how I view it in life.
Ah, revision. I am a lover of the first draft. It’s a discovery of story and exciting to gallivant on adventures and explore emotions for the first time with my characters and world.
Revision? I’m not a huge fan. It’s about the nitty gritty and making the story literally bend to your will and fit into its big-girl pants. Take me back to drafting please!
Below are Susan Dennard’s revision steps outlined in detail. I literally sat with these pages open as I started my first-pass revisions for MoD. There are things I’d like to change about it (like what to write on the notecard for each scene and what equals a scene), but I found this to be the most helpful process after searching for months to find something that was both detailed and relevant. Most revision blogs I found were all about line edits and scene-level revisions. Like, no—I need big picture help!
Here we have revision notes I made while drafting my MS of things I knew I need to change or flesh out or thread through the whole MS. In the second photo, I have my title ideas and critique partner comments that especially resonated with me or were simply confidence-boosting.
Though I don’t plan to write further into the series unless I were to acquire an agent and sell the book as a series, I have still thought out the possible plots and character arcs for a trilogy.
I started this in January, but I’ve been writing book reports on my monthly spreads. I’m not able to read more than like two or three books each month to be honest, especially now that I’m revising. It’s a bit dangerous because it fucks with the voice I’m trying to achieve in my writing.
I was feeling lost in my TBR pile last month and feeling obligated to read books I already had before books I was super excited about. So I made a list of books on my Kindle in order of hype so I felt less lost and less obligated! I really enjoy it. The second photo is Diversity Bingo for 2017. I may be cheating by counting books for more than one square, but meh—it’s my life. If you want to participate in Diversity Bingo, finding #ownvoices books is super important and encouraged. Enjoy!