It’s no secret that I love planners and planning. Hell, New Year is my favorite holiday and that is mostly because I get a new planner out of the deal. This year, I decided to get a little crafty with my planning system. So, let’s talk about my bullet journal for writers for planning and recording.

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a leather notebook held in front of a bookcase with the tet "Creating a Bullet Journal for Writers for Planning and Recording"

There are tons of bullet journal writing ideas out there, and admittedly, my bullet journal is mostly for planning and not so much for writing. Though, it does exist to support a writing lifestyle.

We’ll get more into that later in the post. And of course, there’s a YouTube video featuring a flip through of my current setup, so keep reading to see it.

The Official Journaling for Writers Rules

There are none. And I honestly wish that was the end of this discussion.


Look. I know some of you will say you can’t have a bullet journal because you don’t know how to draw or you don’t have all the supplies you’d like to have.

(Please know that even people like me who are hoarding brush tip pens and scrapbook paper feel like they don’t have enough supplies. THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH.)

You don’t have to own all the art supplies to get started. A pen and a notebook will do a lot for you. Maybe some highlighters can support you on your quest. White Out is a girl’s best friend, but you can always scratch through mistakes.

And trust me when I say there is no perfect bullet journal out there. Sure, there are tons of people who focus on the aesthetic, but that isn’t sustainable. Plus, planning is a messy practice. So, you need to be able to make a mess in a notebook.

Whether you’re creating a novel writing journal or a notebook to track your progress or just a place to write down your schedule, you should do what works for you. And that is probably going to be messy and not fit with the perfect Instagram aesthetic.

Bullet Journal Ideas to Get You Inspired

There are tons of journal ideas for writers out there. All you need to do is search Pinterest. Whether you’re thinking of creating some bullet journal poetry or finally organizing a novel writing bullet journal, here are some writer’s notebook posts to help you on your journey.

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Creating YOUR Bullet Journal for Writers

I’m working on a novel series and freelance writing. I also have some other stuff going on, but for the most part, this notebook exists to support my life as a writer. And that’s where this advice is coming from.

001: Don’t be a perfectionist.

A bullet journal for writers is like an ever-evolving first draft. It’s going to be messy and you need to be able to live with that mess.

I already have pages I hate in this thing, and this post is going on up on January fourth. So yeah. You aren’t the only one who wishes their bullet journal was perfect.

But perfection isn’t the goal. And that’s important to keep in mind. My notebook exists to help me plan out my week and keep track of what actually happened. It’s one part planner, one part scrapbook. And when you give a notebook multiple tasks, it’s bound to get super messy.

Plus, the bullet journal is there to catch ideas as they happen, not to be the final draft of a story. What goes into the bullet journal can be used later for something special. But the bullet journal itself isn’t the important thing.

002: Life and fiction are equally important.

Make sure both parts of you are represented.

I am working on a big project, but I’m also a human body that needs to occasionally go to the doctor and remember to get groceries. I have freelance writing deadlines, but I also have lunch dates with friends.

So, with all that in mind, the notebook needs to support all the things I do. I need to be able to track my writing progress and record deadlines in a way that’s easy for me to see. But I also need to be able to know when I’m meeting up with friends and block out time to get groceries.

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I’m trying this new thing where I’m a fully-formed person. I don’t lean too far into productivity or too far into being social. It’s not easy, but so far, so good.

003: Plan and record and reflect.

I have found that a lot of my planning isn’t super helpful because I don’t spend enough time recording or reflecting on past plans. I need to know how things turned out and how I felt to get a better sense of what I want to do moving forward.

If you focus just on planning, it can be easy to keep doing the same thing over and over, even if it doesn’t feel good.

With my current set up, I have space to plan, to track progress, and to just journal about how things are going. I don’t know if I’ll keep it up through the year, but for now, I’m enjoying it.

004: Make it work for your brain.

You don’t have to do the viral Instagram/Pinterest bujo trends. You do, however, owe it to yourself to make a notebook that works for you. And that could potentially mean making something that’s not ~*aEsThEtIc*~, which is how the kids say “good looking” now.

I don’t use a lot of the common bullet journal rules and I don’t do a lot of things that others do.

Instead, I’m focused on making a notebook that tracks and records everything I need, and allows me to plan in an intuitive way.

What works for me may not work for you. So, think about what you actually need from a planner and how your brain actually works.

005: Make the information accessible.

Use tabs. Highlight the hell out of it. Wrap the edges of pages in washi tape so you can find what you need.

You can create sections and cut pages into barn doors, or whatever works best for you. Just make sure you aren’t creating unnecessary clutter or a system that’s too much work to maintain.

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006: Pick a notebook that encourages writing.

Not all notebooks are created equal. Cheap notebooks with crappy paper aren’t fun for anyone.

Ideally, we’d all be able to find a sketchbook with 300 pages of heavy paper that was miraculously thin enough to carry around daily. This notebook does not exist. But it would be great for handling all the glue and paint I want to use.

Don’t hesitate to go to a store and feel all the notebooks. Let yourself touch the paper and see how it feels. Then, think about how your pens will work in that paper.

It sucks to set up a bullet journal and realize that your pen is bleeding through the pages and everything is smudged beyond recognition. Save yourself from this heartache.

007: Write your own bullet journaling rules.

Yes, the system was created by Ryder Carroll, and he encourages the use of an index (that’s actually a table of contents, if we’re being pedantic here) and a symbols key. I don’t use those.

Instead, I opt for page tabs and washi tape-wrapped edges to help me find things I need, and I pretty much stick to check boxes so there’s no key needed.

This works for me. These are my rules.

But maybe you need rules around color coding. Maybe you need rules about when the week starts in your bullet journal.

You do you.

My Bullet Journal for Writers

Alrighty, friends. Without further ado, here’s my bullet journal for writers.

I am using this Moleskine notebook, and this Moterm notebook cover.

Here are the sections in my bullet journal:

This bullet journal will be evolving as the year goes on. Stay tuned to see how I use it.

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