When it comes to organizing a writer’s notebook, it’s important to organize it in a way that works for you. So even though all the bullet journal Pinterest boards are full of great ideas, none of them are worth it if they don’t work for you.
Every writer is different, and every writer needs something different to, well, write. Just what is a writer’s notebook to you isn’t the same to me. So when organizing a writer’s notebook, it’s important to think about what you need from a notebook.
Finding a writer’s notebook is hard enough. Notebook type and page weight is important. But also consider the size and how it will work with the stuff you already have. And then, once you’ve chosen the notebook, it’s time to organize it.
I’m generally a mess when it comes to notebooks. Sure, they’re useful, but when others look at them, they don’t get that burst of inspiration that they may get from a pristinely designed notebook you see on Pinterest.
But that’s okay.
Because my writer’s notebook isn’t to inspire others. It’s to inspire me.
Tips for Organizing a Writer’s Notebook
Whether you’re working on a novel series or just collecting your inspiration all in one place, organizing a writer’s notebook is a personal journey. But there are some things to keep in mind so you can make sure when you start a writer’s notebook, you’ve got it well organized.
001: Think about how you use it.
Knowing how you want to use a writer’s notebook is important. Is it a place for recording ideas? Tracking data or progress? Making plans?
Whatever it is to you is fine. But knowing how you use it can be a great way to figure out how to best organize it. The key is to make it easy on you.
So take some time to think about what you put in it, how you flip through it, and if you have to shove it in a bag to carry it around. And also, think about the kind of supplies you like to use. Not everyone likes page flags or highlighters. But some folks do.
Taking time to think about how you’ll actually use the notebook can help you pick out the perfect notebook for you, and also consider what supplies you’ll need to to get the most out of it.
002: Make sections or use an already sectioned notebook.
Sections are a great way to keep things organized. I love traveler’s notebooks for this reason, but I get that not everyone does. For me, being able to have multiple smaller notebooks tied together is perfect for keeping all my writing stuff together, but still separate enough that nothing gets confused.
If you prefer a 5-subject spiral notebook, you can get the same effect in a larger size.
And if you need to keep it relatively small, I recommend using a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. They come with a table of contents (though they call it an index) at the front, and all the pages are numbered. That way, you can just fill the notebook and mark in the index where stuff is.
003: Page flags and highlighters go a long way.
Okay. I know I mentioned that not everyone likes these. But the more tools you have to keep you organized, the easier it gets.
Page flags are great for demarcating sections or for drawing attention to important stuff. Highlighters are great for color coding information, or for marking the edges of pages to keep them together in some kind of section.
But don’t stop there, gang. There are supplies for days. I like using washi tape on the edge of pages to mark a section start. And stickers can be good for splitting up a page. Michael’s has tons of stickers for planning and organizing notebooks, and I have a booklet of to do list stickers and different sized boxes that are perfect for breaking up a page into different sections.
004: Take inspiration from the world of bullet journaling.
Okay. I know I keep mentioning bullet journals, but that’s because they are a veritable force to be reckoned with.
You can’t peruse Pinterest or YouTube without coming across some bullet journal content, and for good reason. There are tons of creative bullet journalists out there. So many of them have come up with unique ways to organize their notebooks that are not only pretty, but functional.
I will say, though, just for the sake of it, that you absolutely don’t want to find something in all the bullet journal inspiration out there simply because it’s aesthetically pleasing. You need something that will also work for you.
So remember how much time you have to organize that notebook in the first place. If your design choices require hours of set up that you don’t want to deal with every time you add a new section, it’s not going to be a good choice for you.
005: Accept that it won’t be perfect.
And to further drive my point of function over aesthetics home, know that your notebook won’t be perfect. Ever. And even if others think it looks amazing, you will know all the faults.
There is something to be said for taking a notebook, and screwing up the first few pages and moving on. It makes it easier for you to work with it because you’re not being precious about it anymore. But if you’re the sort of person who will leave an old blank journal empty because you’re afraid to use it, this last point is for you.
Your writer’s notebook is just that. Yours. So don’t expect to suddenly be capable of notebook perfection if you’ve never achieved it before.
Instead, focus on how this notebook can serve you, not the other way around. You don’t need to make it look fancy. You just need to have a notebook to help you write more efficiently.
How Do You Organize Your Writer’s Notebook?
How do you organize your writer’s notebook? What do you keep in it? How do you mark the different sections?
And just out of curiosity, have you ever heard the siren’s call of the bullet journal Pinterest boards only to find that you are absolutely a notebook goblin who creates only paper mess?
No? Just me?