Reviewing the Bullet Journal

Keeping Track

Earlier this week, for reasons that probably will not be mysterious if you read my WW last week, I was thinking about the past, and so decided to take a look at the bullet journal I started back in 2017.

As I mentioned at the time, I was inspired by an article I read by Amanda Hackwith about how a bullet journal, which is designed for flexibility, could be adapted to help a writer keep track not only of day-to-day chores, but also help establish a sense that something was actually being achieved.

I’m going to quote the passage in Amanda Hackwith’s essay that inspired me to give a bullet journal a try:

“The life of a writer means I have a hundred things to keep track of at once, but not always on a precise day by day itinerary. If I stuck to the traditional appointments + daily to dos format, my days would be a constant repeat of something like ‘Write word count, Edit X, read, check email anxiously.”

So, how has a bullet journal worked for me?  Has it helped me feel I’m getting something done, or is it just another chore in addition to the daily journal and weekly “to do” list I already keep?

Overall, if I remember to look back to past events, I think the bullet journal has really helped me to feel I’m doing more than the “lather, rinse, repeat” cycle of “write, edit, read, check e-mail.  Don’t forget social media check ins.”

When I looked at the “Dream Future” page, where I listed things I needed to deal with sometime down the road, I saw that several potential projects, mostly unsold novels, still hadn’t been dealt with.

However, when I looked at the “Future Log” I’d created in 2017, when I began the journal, I was happy to see that not only had I gotten everything on the list done, I had continued in the general trend I’d established.  I’d used—and continue to use—indie pub options to get more of my backlist out.  I’d written new Firekeeper novels.  I’d written not only the “rough draft” of “Sapphire Wind” mentioned on the list; I’d also finished it, polished it, broken it into two books, and sold it to a traditional publisher (Baen Books), where it will appear as the “Over Where” novels, Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge early in 2022.

Yes.  Sometimes keeping a bullet journal does feel more as if I have given myself an extra chore.  Lately, I realized I was not adding pages for new projects, which, in turn, was leading to me losing a sense of accomplishing anything.  Instead, the bullet journal was becoming merely a condensed version of my daily journal: somewhat useful, but not great for my feeling I’m getting anything done.

And I was definitely becoming inclined to forget to pat myself on the back for accomplishments that didn’t fit into the write word count, do that edit or review routine.

Therefore, this week, I’m recapturing my resolve.  I’ve created a page for my current backlist project: new e-books of Artemis Awakening and Artemis Invaded.  I’ve created a page for Star Kingdom 4, now titled A New Clan, for which I was astonished to see I hadn’t created a page.  I’ve created a page for the short story set in the “Over Where” universe that I’ve been asked to write.

In other words, I’m going back to my early resolution to not make the bullet journal a glorified “to do” list encased in hard covers.  I’m going to make it something that will remind me that my working steadily, constantly, actually gets me somewhere, and the fact that I keep doing variations on the same thing, doesn’t mean I’m not getting anything done!

As I said back in 2017, sometimes it’s easy to feel like Sisyphus, never making it to the top of that hill.  I’m glad to say that the bullet journal, even if it is another rock to push, reminds me that time and again I’ve made it to the top of that hill.

4 Responses to “Reviewing the Bullet Journal”

  1. @JayDzed Says:

    Huzzah for reminders that things have been and will be completed!

    • janelindskold Says:

      Yes. It is SO easy to be focused on the future that one forgets to pat oneself for the present achievements. Especially when there isn’t necessarily a paycheck at the end of the week or even month as a reminder you put in work worth being paid for.

  2. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    Is the bullet journal only for work related things? I try to remind myself of accomplishments in the area of self care, and enjoying the small wonders of everyday life.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of everyday life, and remembering to stop and just be still is an accomplishment for me.

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