Tag Archives: fiction

Follow Up: Using A Bullet Journal For Creative Projects

One of the most popular posts on my site is this one about how I use a Bullet Journal. The other, in case you are interested, is the one weighing up the pros and cons of using a Moleskine versus Field Notes, which also has a Bullet Journal influence to it.

Given I started using a Bullet Journal approach when it was a new thing and not the hugely popular and artistic thing it is now (check out the Instagram bujo hashtag if you want to feel inferior about your artistic skills), I thought it would be a good time to do a follow up. Specifically, how to use a Bullet Journal for creative projects.

Firstly, the thing to remember is that the bullet journal methodology is not set in stone. Right from the start, it was a system designed to be modified to meet individual needs. For me, this has resulted in two separate notebooks: one for planning and the other for creative writing projects.

A creative Bullet Journal, by definition, will have different requirements to a notebook containing everything. But why did I separate them? Quite simply, I wanted to have all my book outlines and ideas in one place. When it’s time to pick a project to move onto, this dramatically reduces the number of notebooks I have to work my way through. Because it is specifically for longer outlines, rather than aha! on-the-go snippets, I can stick to an A5 size that is just large enough.

What to remove

Because I’ve got a specific use case in mind, I can ignore any features that relate to the calendar. (Side note, because I’ve stripped out the creative writing projects, I can use an actual diary in a modified Bullet Journal approach that is just as effective. If you want to know more, I’m using a Moleskine Agenda as described here). This means the Future Log and the Monthly Log disappear for me.

What to keep

The Index is the core functionality of the Bullet Journal system that is so simple, yet life changing. This is particularly important in this instance because I want to be able to easily review the contents at a later date. I can’t help but call it Contents though, rather than Index. Sorry!

Underpinning the index is the use of page numbers. This is a feature that makes the Leuchtturm 1917 brand ideal for Bullet Journaling as they are pre-completed. I find manually numbering the pages at the start of a new notebook quite therapeutic, so don’t worry if your notebook of choice doesn’t have them.

 

Because I might plan a story over the course of several weeks and have more than one in development at any given time, when it comes to review I don’t want to keep flicking back to the index to find the related project pieces. Instead I use a simple arrow system when linking larger blocks of related text. It is a simple thing to do before starting, but saves amazing amounts of time when reviewing:

This chapter continues on page 37

This continues from page 17

What about topics, bullets and tasks?

I still use these as a creative feature. There is much more to writing a book than plotting it out. There may be research tasks that need to be completed prior to writing and these can form topics in themselves.

Personal Opinions…

What is the best size for a Bullet Journal?

For creative projects, the A5 size works best. For ‘on the go’ notes and ideas capture, a pocket notebook is best (such as a Field Notes)

What is the best brand for a bullet journal?

Leuchtturm 1917 is the closest fit for the Bullet Journal system. Prebuilt Index and page numbers, as well as a paper quality that works for a wide range of pen types, including fountain pens

What is the best paper format for a bullet journal?

Plain paper allows for the most freedom, but I’m a huge fan of graph or dot grid. The key is that any ruling is subtle enough for it not to be limiting 

You can find the official Bullet Journal site and more information from Ryder here.

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My Top 5 Books of 2014

These are my top 5 books that I have read in 2014, not necessarily that were published in 2014. Sometimes I’m late to the game, but just because something isn’t brand new, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth mentioning. Every year I intend to read more than I actually do, but this is the first time since I was at University that I have taken advantage of the library on a regular basis. It’s the perfect way to try something you’re not sure about, which has led me to some complete gems over the past twelve months.

So, without further ado…

General Fiction

The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

The Girl

This book was immensely enjoyable, but hard to describe. Larger than life characters and even bigger plot, this book was so carefully crafted that the suspension of disbelief – even in the face of insurmountable odds – never wavered. I dare anyone not to root for the main character from beginning to end. From Soweto to Sweden, the comedy is punctured by some dark moments, but a reminder to never, ever underestimate someone because of who you believe they are.

Fantasy

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

final-empire-2

My sister is a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson and she’s been trying to get me to read his books for years. I finally got round to doing so earlier in the year, and I’m glad I did. I think Mistborn is a perfect entry point into his writing, and you can read my original review here. For any would-be writers of fantasy, it is also a great tool for understanding the importance of world-building and how to get the balance right between background and plot.

Self Help / Personal Development

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

 

I found this book by way of his Ted Talk, via the Productivity Book Group podcast. As a person not naturally given to positivity (I tend to think of myself as a hardened realist), I’ve been trying very seriously over this past year to work on my mindset as much as anything else. Insightful without being patronising, this book has delightful anecdotes, interesting research and some basic, simple tips to help people take the steps towards the benefits of being more mindful.

Biography

My Spiritual Journey by Dalai Lama

Spiritual Journey

This falls into the category of random library find. I gave a brief review of it earlier this year. It was humorous, insightful and gave a picture of the man I had heard of (who hasn’t?), but didn’t really understand. Spiritual without being preachy, there was no attempt to hard convert to Buddhism here, as there so often is with books containing religious figures. It was simply a fascinating window into the life of a man who has travelled a very different road to most of us.

Business

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

7 habits

In the interests of honesty, this was not the first time I had read this book. It was probably one of the first books I had read on business/personal development, probably a decade or so ago. Back then, I just didn’t get it. I found it too dense, too remote, too hard to plough through. The only thing I remember taking away was the concept of mission statements. I opened it again this year and it was a completely different experience. I was finally ready for it, I think. I’m a big fan of organisation and productivity – both personal and business – and I try to follow the principles of Getting Things Done by David Allen. Now that is engrained in my life (six years and counting), I think the maturity of my own process allowed me to understand the bigger picture approach that Covey prescribes. Proof that sometimes, you have to go back to something twice to get a true understanding of the content.

Now I’m starting to plan my reading for 2015 – if anyone has any contenders then feel free to pop them in the comments below. I’m always up for a challenge!