Bullet Journal Your Novel: Free Up Your Mind, And Write

I’m currently in the middle of the first draft of a new novel. It’s going well. However, I’ve changed the novel’s hook, eliminated a couple of characters, and made huge changes to the plot. These major changes are a lot to keep in mind while I complete the draft. My novel’s bullet journal helps.

What’s a bullet journal?

Firstly, you may be wondering just what a “bullet journal” might be. The concept’s developer, Ryder Carroll, has an excellent intro to the system here. Basically, a bullet journal (BuJo) is a freeform notebook/ task list/ daily to do list and much more.

I followed the BuJo system religiously for almost a year, trying to put my entire life into a bullet journal. It stopped working for me. I found it too distracting to have my day job, my personal stuff, and my novels, all in the same Leuchtturm A5 hardcover notebook. After racing through notebooks alarmingly quickly — when I got to two notebooks a month, I gave up. In the time I was copying Collections to new notebooks, I could have written a new chapter.

So, I decided to use my BuJo just for my novels, and it’s working like a charm. It’s helped me to stay confident that I’m on-track, no matter how many changes I make in first drafts.

How a bullet journal helps you to stay on track with your novel

Basically, your BuJo helps you to feel in control.

From The Bullet Journal Works Because It Soothes Your Panicky Mind:

“Your mind is precious real estate — most people can only pay attention to three or four things at a time — and transferring your to-dos frees up space for other, more immediate needs.”

When you’re writing a novel, there’s a lot to keep in your mind. Plot, characters, timeline — when you start tinkering with these elements, while you’re writing, the temptation is to go back, and write new scenes, and eliminate scenes. The impulse to fix it NOW is almost irresistible, yet resist it you must.

If you succumb to the temptation to FIX stuff, you’re 100% guaranteed not to finish the novel, in my experience anyway. I’ve found that if I can encourage myself to move forward (as if the changes had already been made), I can complete the book, AND I know what needs to be done in the second draft.

So — my BuJo is now a book journal.

New to the concept of bullet journaling? Here’s an excellent article which will teach you what you need to know — How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide.

It’s packed with great advice:

“If you’re hesitant to buy a new journal before you know if you’ll use it (valid decision by the way), grab an old steno notebook or one of the dozens of barely-used journals on your shelf. (I’m the president of Journal Hoarders of America, so I do not judge.) Now let’s take a few minutes to do a quick set-up so you can see everything in action.”

Let me know if bullet journaling helps you with your novels. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Bullet Journal Your Novel: Free Up Your Mind, And Write”

  1. Hi!
    I think that this is a great idea. I have maladaptive daydreaming disorder which makes me/allowed me to make up stories, worlds, characters in my head, but I don’t write them down like you would when writing a novel a novel. There are hardly any ideas on the Internet and I think this is the most inspiring post so far.

  2. As a writer with ADHD I found a bujo helped me balance my busy life and writing. The problem was I wasn’t writing as much being so structured. A separate bujo for novels might be the answer I’m looking for. Any layout examples would be amazing!


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