The Butt-Ugly Bullet Journal Rides Again


I’m in the process of setting up my bullet journal for the first three months of 2022. My regular readers already know that this is not the place I do art. You do you, but for me, this is an exercise in setting up an organizational plan that works for me, and for my non-mass produced needs. Did Leonardo DaVinci scribble his dentist appointments across the Mona Lisa? No? Well, onward, then.


The cover of a black, no-name brand A-5 Dotted traveler's journal insert

So… Last year, sometime around August, I switched from using a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook to these nifty, no-name inserts for my composite notebook. (You can find them cheap by searching for traveler’s notebook inserts, but that is (or was) a brand name, so scroll down for the cheap ones.) I’m using the A5 size. Dotted. The big benefit to that is that you can start over with a clean slate without tossing an expensive notebook. And, since the pandemic started, I feel like I need a fresh start more than once a year. You could probably fit three or four months in one of these. I’m doing three.

January title page, showing a list of projects, and also a list of goals

This is my January title page/spread/whatever you want to call it.

I’m starting each month with a list of the projects I’m working on. Aside making me sit down and think about my priorities, it also makes it much easier to go back and figure out whether whatever I’m working for is going to be in that section. No point in looking for a project in January, if I didn’t start working on it until June.

I also have a list of goals. Right now, I expect to be heavy on revision. Gotta catch up with that revision I set aside for nano, ya know. I also want a finished-ish draft of my nano novel, and 4 short stories. (Because I’m aiming at that 52 week challenge, yet again this year.) Counted weeks. Counted blogging days. That’s January.

January Calendar and Word Count graph

The next page is my monthly overview and word count graph. I might fill in a few BIG days (specifically, things where I don’t really expect to get a lot of work done) but for the most part, I’ll write in word counts, and time after the fact. I decided not to draw the squares on the graph until I can fill them in.

I’m still doing the five things daily thing. For new people, that’s five things daily for my writing career. READ something, WRITE something, REVISE something. (Revise is my own addition, and then the other two “things” are wild cards.)

And about half a page to jot down the short story submissions I send out in January. That’s more a visual representation of progress than anything else. (I also track them on the Submission Grinder and on Sonar.) Where do the queries to literary agents go? Well, I have a spreadsheet for that.

My word count tracker remains… pretty much the same. I write in the header for the month, print out the grid, and tape it in. I have a couple of different versions of this thing, including one that has my Nanowrimo target word counts printed directly on it. This one has columns for each project, as well as for my blog and for short stories. The “Day” column was for the Write Every Day Challenge I was doing, but I’m re-evaluating how mentally healthy it is to reward yourself for, uhm… never taking a break. If you want the grid file, you can have it. Download Wordcount grid now.

I’m always looking for that perfect way to track my revisions. And this is what I came up with this time around. I want sixty hours of revision next month. (Or, maybe, more specifically, I want to have a presentable manuscript yesterday. Something like that.) The dots up top form sixty tiny squares for me to fill in. The calendar is to track where that time is coming from. (One line per day.) And yes, I’ll wind up setting a timer. (When I remember.)

Blog posts. Thirteen of them. Pretty much self-explanatory.

index cards, with two hole punches, and an elastic running through both holes.

And here are my year-long goals. Fifty two week challenge… a list of books read… the things that need to roll over from this notebook to the next (and which I’m much too lazy to actually copy out by hand.) It’s a little stack of note cards that I’ve hole-punched, and run one of my composite (traveler’s) notebook elastics through. (It helps, if you’re making your own elastics, anyway.) A while back, I had something similar to this that described the ideal work day… and which I mostly ignored, and which… well, ideal day? Does that exist? I think this is a better use of the space for me. When I swap out notebook inserts, this will move with me.

So, there you go. That’s my bullet journal overview for the next quarter. Give me a shout if you have any questions, and let me know what you’re doing in your bullet journals these days.


  1. Reply

    I love your organized approach. I enjoyed bullet journaling but abandoned it sometime in 2020. With writing and my day job and family, I felt like something had to give, and that was it. I still journal from time to time, but I track my writing and revising with Online Writing Log.

    God luck in 2022! I hope you have a productive and prosperous year.

  2. Reply

    I don’t know, I would call that very pretty. Something about the organization makes my brain happy just to look at it. Good luck and happy writing in 2022!

    • Reply

      Thank you! I try to focus on the organization as much as I can. It’s one of my weak areas. Happy New Year!

  3. Gretchen Mayer


    I took away some good suggestions and a lot of motivation. Thanks.

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