Want to bullet journal your novel? I wrote this post about bullet journals for fiction authors a while ago, and tried to answer readers’ questions about the process.
Here’s what’s most important…
Bullet journal your novel: do it YOUR way
Bullet journal your novel your way.
Discover your process over time.
My process is simple:
- One notebook per novel;
- Leave the first six pages blank for the index;
- Number the pages, if you’re using a notebook without page numbers;
- Use Ryder Carroll’s basic bullet journal system: it’s a good one. The fancier you get, the less time you have for writing.
Let’s look at the tips.
1. Too busy to write? Spend five minutes with your bullet journal
On those days when there’s too much happening, and you don’t have time to write, spend a few minutes with your journal, reading through your topics.
If you suddenly find yourself writing, that’s OK. Keep going. You can transfer the material to Scrivener or Word tomorrow.
2. Try doing brain dumps, right in your bullet journal
I found this article, which suggested doing brain dumps — I thought it was a brilliant idea, and used the suggestion immediately. Brain dumps are an excellent way to build out your plot, and develop your characters.
A brain dump can also kickstart your writing on slow days.
3. Keep an index of Collections at the front of your bullet journal
Sometimes I start a new Collection, and don’t realize that I already have a Collection for that topic, or a similar one.
If you discover that you have lots of Collections, with many entries, you can use tags to index your Collections. Tag your entries in your daily journal, or in a Collection, and add the tag and page number to that Collection’s index.
You won’t use the Collection’s index often. I’ve found that simply tagging entries helps me to remember them.
4. Go digital: keep your bullet journal on your tablet or phone
Hate carrying a paper journal around with you? Try keeping a digital bullet journal. If you use the GoodNotes app on an iPad Pro, you can even handwrite your journal.
I’ve been experimenting with using both a paper journal and a digital bullet journal for my current novel, the next in the Eardleys series. (Lady Jane’s story.) The digital journal is useful because it’s easily searchable — that’s the big advantage that digital has over paper. 🙂
5. Keep a scenes list for a quick overview of your novel
As you get further into your novel, a scenes list, with a short description (just a few lines) of each scene is invaluable.
It helps you to keep the overall structure of your novel in mind. If you find yourself nearing the Midpoint, you know that something major will have to change soon, no matter how many other “essential” scenes you thought you needed to write.
In summary, your novel’s bullet journal is a wonderful tool
Remember to use it your way — you’ll be amazed at how much more relaxed you are about your novel. Your writing will go more smoothly, and you’ll be more productive too.