Tag Archives: Field Notes

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.

Review: Field Notes – Ambition Edition

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Field Notes Ambition Edition is one of my favourites. It was this edition that has finally made me a colors subscriber.

Presence of hedgehog makes it even better

Presence of hedgehog makes it even better

They have been pushing the boundaries of what they could do with Field Notes over the past few editions, so I was wondering just how far they would be able to go with the winter release. There is a fine line between genius and crazy and part of me has been dreading them crossing it. Instead, by going with the three different types of notebooks in one pack, I think they’ve managed to hit a sweet spot.

The memo book itself is a lovely colour (wine) and more importantly for me, uses grid paper. I love grid and the form factor and size makes it perfect for an everyday carry bullet journal:

Field Notes Memo Book

Secondly, and a sensible one for the time of year, I can certainly see the appeal of the 56 Week date book. They’ve also avoided actually dating the pages which, given the fact that anyone who regularly buys Field Notes is likely to work through their existing pack before opening the next one, means it is not rendered immediately useless if that doesn’t happen until March:

Field Notes Date Book

Finally, the ledger book. Now, this one causes me a bit of a dilemma. I really like it, but I’m not sure how to use it. Not in a way that is anything other than a regular notebook, which almost feels a bit of a waste. I’m not that into sport, and all my financials are done on a spreadsheet. If anyone has any suggestions then please let me know, as I’m struggling a bit to come up with something creative.

Field Notes Ledger

After the brightness of Unexposed, I love the muted colours of these books. They work with the gold trim to create a old school sense of style which I’m very comfortable with. Also the sound of that trim cracking as you open the pages for the first time is intensely satisfying in a way that only notebook addicts will understand. I can see them coming out at work without causing any raised eyebrows (Unexposed was about as far from corporate as you can get without spitting in the eye of your CEO).

Thanks of course go to Mr Brad Dowdy, the Pen Addict himself, for getting me interested in Field Notes in the first place. You should check out his website if you haven’t already. Without him, I would be emotionally poorer (but certainly financially richer…)