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My Writer’s Bible, Bullet Journal, and Notebook

My Camp NaNoWriMo Spread, including a word count tracker, April's calendar, tasks, and some inspiration.

My Camp NaNoWriMo Spread, including a word count tracker, April’s calendar, tasks, and some inspiration.

Back in April,  I started my Writer’s Bullet Journal in a large (well, it’s the Master) Leuchtturm 1917, but it was just too big to handle easily. Forget taking it anywhere. And it didn’t fit in my Writer’s Bible, which is a custom Jonelifish TN (traveler’s notebook). I tried the softcover Leuchtturm 1917 and loved it, but it became harder and harder to find, so when I got down to the last few pages of it I decided to use a Midori A5 grid notebook I had, since it could also be housed in my Writer’s Bible and replace the filled softcover Leuchtturm1917.

get shit done

Self Explanatory

With NaNoWriMo quickly approaching, I needed to get things together. I had 6 weeks to prepare for November 1st and when I really thought about it–that just didn’t feel like enough time, but HEY! a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do. So I got my butt in gear and started preparing. My husband said, “It’s not November yet, why are you doing Nano stuff now?” I looked up at him with my serious face. “It’s almost the end of September. I’ve got to get things ready…” I said.  And then I looked down at my Writer’s Bible and said, “I’m excited and there’s a lot of work to do.” And like Jake at the end of the Gunslinger, my husband nodded and said, “Well go on and do your NaNo stuff then.” It’s not as good as “there are other worlds than this,” but it made me happy. And since I’m using Arwen’s 33 Days to Finish Your Novel course again I knew I’d need to start at least 33 days before NaNoWriMo. I really do love using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey to outline.

amwriting april 22

Camp NaNo April 2015 (?) Writer’s Bible, Laptop, and Starbucks’s White Chocolate Mocha

So here I am, preparing for NaNoWriMo once again. Only this year, I know so much more than I did the previous years… with each passing year I learn more about myself as a writer. I’ve learned more about writing, outlining, pantsing, branding oneself, the writing community, editing videos, taking pictures, planning and using a bullet journal, what works best in my Writer’s Bible, and what I need in order to survive NaNoWriMo. Not that I don’t aim to write between 1000-2000 words per day during the rest of the year, but there is something about NaNoWriMo and the various writing communities that pushes you do do more, to try new things, to expand your horizons, and to get your ass in the chair every day and WRITE! And the planning community, especially the bullet journal community has given me such great ideas for how to plan out things in my Writer’s Bible and Writer Bullet Journal.

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NaNoWriMo 2016: Writer’s Bible, which includes my Writer Bullet Journal, my Writer Notebook, a few supplies, Tarot Cards

When I first talked to Jonel Imutan about making me a Writer’s Bible, a TN specifically for my writer stuff, I knew I wanted something unique, functional, and that fit me. I told her what I wanted, and left it up to her which style of typewriter to engrave on the front, and how to coordinate the colors, and once it was done I got to name it–Shakespeare. Thought I’d have named it something from a Stephen King novel, huh? Nope. Though I love King’s works, and he’ll always be my favorite and he’s a genius, there’s something about Shakespeare that has always spoken to me.

I have done numerous videos that have featured Shakespeare (my Writer’s Bible), and over time it has become even more supple and pliable, more functionable because I’ve learned what works best for me, and it’s always subject to change if I find that something isn’t working.

Midori A5 Grid Notebook that I'm using as my Writer Bullet Journal

Midori A5 Grid Notebook that I’m using as my Writer Bullet Journal

Inside my Writer’s Bible, the first notebook is the Midori A5 Grid Notebook that I’m using for my Writer Bullet Journal. I printed what you see on the cover, which I found on Pinterest. I love what it says: Punch Today in the Face. Some days you just have to do that… and I know there will definitely be days during November when I am going to feel like punching something in the face. 😀 Don’t get me wrong, NaNoWriMo is awesome, but it’s chaotic. I’ve tried pantsing during NaNoWriMo, writing by the seat of my pants, and I failed. I love the idea of pantsing…of writing intuitively with no outline, just writing, but I was flailing around like a fish on land by the middle of November when I did that. Since then I’ve been working on the method of planning that works best for me. It feels like I’ve found it–using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey, Arwen’s method specifically, has really helped me find my groove with outlining. I used it last year and I’m using it again this year. I’ve also tried the Save the Cat method, along with a few others.

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On the inside, the cover page, I pasted a picture that I got from NaNoWriMo 2015 for inspiration… it reminds me of what I’m supposed to be doing… WRITING, plus it has fun things in the picture like Coffee, Pens, Ink, a Notebook…and let’s not forget my Coffee magnet bookmark. I love how this picture makes me feel. So below is a gallery I created of the rest of the inside of my Writer Bullet Journal. I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures. It’s still a work in progress though.. and I made a few boo boo’s…  but overall I like it. I can live with the mistakes, it just gives my Writer Bullet Journal character. 😀

 

Next is the Index, and then the Future log. Nothing complicated about either of those. I have been working on this new Writer Bullet Journal since September 20th and so far I’ve gotten a few things done, but there’s still much more that I need to work on. I’m trying to stay organized. There’s so much to keep up with that I had to get organized if I want to get things done, especially if I want to be efficient. It’s about working smarter not harder.

The next notebook in my Writer’s Bible is the “new shiny ideas” notebook for writing. If I get an idea about a character, a novel, a scene but I’m not sure it goes in the current WIP then I write it down in this notebook.

Shiny New Ideas Notebook

Shiny New Ideas Notebook

And here is the third notebook in my Writer’s Bible.

NaNo YT and Blog Insert

NaNo YT and Blog Insert

The first page is my NaNo Prep YT video list

NaNo Prep YT Video List

NaNo Prep YT Video List

And the next page is the NaNo Prep Blog Post List:

NaNo Prep Blog Post List

NaNo Prep Blog Post List

And the last notebook in my Writer’s Bible. Its a Clairefontaine notebook and I use it as my Writer Journal. I write down how my writing or outlining is going. What I think, etc.. The pages are wonderful for fountain pens. 😀

Clairefontaine Notebook

Clairefontaine Notebook

And last but not least, is my Writer Notebook. It is where I write out what I’ve learned from using the outlining method. I am not sure of where I got this notebook. I believe it might have been Walmart. I love the paper for writing. And I love that the pages are sectioned by different colors, and that at the top it has a little section where you can either write the date or the page number. I’ve chosen to write the page numbers.

And that’s it… at least for now. I have a lot of work to do this afternoon and this evening to write down what I learned about the Call to Adventure. I go back through my notes from my Writer Bullet Journal and then summarize it in the Writer Notebook.

Links to some of the things I’ve mentioned are below. Note:

**This post contains  some affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I might receive a small commission (this doesn’t cost you anything) if you subscribe or purchase something through some of the links I’ve provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love!**

Arwen’s YT video using Tarot for writing: https://youtu.be/V90tAWykxVY

Arwen’s Course Info: http://tarotbyarwen.com/17242-2/

Tarot for Writer’s by Corrine Kenner : http://amzn.to/2cnPEJx

Wizards’ Tarot Deck by Corrine Kenner: http://amzn.to/2cC5xI2

Rider Waite Tarot Deck: http://amzn.to/2dfPRvb

My Writer’s Bible: http://jonelifish.com

 

 

 

 

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Writer Wednesday | Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp nano 2016Slowly but surely I am getting things in my life organized, part of that includes my new writer bullet journal and preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m using tarot and the hero/heroine’s journey to loosely outline my novel–the same one I started back in November for NaNoWriMo. Since November I’ve changed the first 3-4 chapters completely–I wasn’t starting at the right place. Since November, I’ve been using the 12 week self-guided course from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” to help me with my creativity and living a creative life. And, since November I’ve become much more organized.

My First 2 Bullet Journals

My First 2 Bullet Journals

Part of how I’ve become more organized was to stop trying to use pre-made planners, they just don’t work for me, and to instead roll with a system that seems as if it were made for people who are To-Do List’ers–the bullet journal system. I started bullet journaling, and then realized that for me personally, I needed something more along the lines of an omni-journal (so I could throw in my sketch-your-day/illustrate-your-life/Hobonichi style journaling in there), but I needed something separate for my writing. I have a writer’s bible, I use it to put all of my writing stuff in: an insert for the actual novel, which I use when I handwrite my novel, and an insert for what I call my writer journal, where I talk about how my writing went, how much I wrote, what I thought about it, any shiny new ideas…

Planning a novel has been quite a bit of a journey for me–a few years worth of trying to find what works for me. I’ve tried various things (Save the Cat, the Marshall Plan, the Snowflake Method, Janice Hardy’s method for Plotting your Novel, etc) and what has worked the best for me is using Tarot cards and the Hero’s Journey, which I learned from taking Arwen Lynch’s eCourse. I have a playlist on YT where I went through the course:

I had a ton of fun. And am continuing to use it so I can revamp the novel I wrote in November, except now I have a Leuchtturm 1917 Master Notebook to use as my “Writing/Writer” Bullet Journal. I needed more space than the A5 allowed for my planning. And since the journal isn’t leaving my home, except on rare occasion, I knew I’d be fine with the large size of the Master Leuchtturm. (And it is a whopper: over 200 pages of what looks like vanilla colored paper that is perfect for writing (not so much for art journaling though) and it has an Index–a win in my book.)

Now I just need to finish my storyboard, which means making copies of the tarot cards that I pulled for my outline and putting them on the storyboard; cleaning my desk off, and finishing the last bit of my outline. 😀

So here are some pictures of what I’m working on in my bullet journal for writing:

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Outlining with the Hero’s Journey and Tarot Cards

The Writer's Life

The Writer’s Life

In preparations for NaNoWriMo this year I knew I had to do something different. What I’d done previously hadn’t worked, and I’ve tried many things from pantsing to plotting (using all different kinds of methods from Save the Cat, the Marshall Plan, Mapping your Novel, Planning your Novel, and the list goes on), but I never got in the outlining zone. I got enthusiastic, and I got motivated, but I never hit that point where it felt like I wasn’t “WORKING,” where it was fun, like writing is for me. To me, writing, the actual writing is fun, the planning wasn’t. Not until now.

I figured out that I’m what is referred to as a loose outliner, which means I don’t outline every single scene, but I do outline the beginning, middle, and end, some of the main parts (which would be defined as those seven beats that are so important to your novel, or the moments like the inciting incident, the B-Story, All is Lost, and Showdown, or the moments that some refer to as conflict moments). I usually wrote something short and sweet for each chapter like: MC meets ___ & finds ___, or MC loses ___, Bad Guy shows up and MC freaks/confronts/plans, or Betrayal by the last person MC expects, or ___ helps/saves ___ and turns out not to be a bad guy afterall…. in the index card on the corkboard for each chapter so that I knew that those scenes needed to follow that path. However, I didn’t specify anything for each scene, or when I did it usually ended up changing.

However, now that I am outlining with the Hero’s Journey, and Tarot, using an eCourse from Arwen Lynch, I am literally having a blast, my outlining is going so well, and I’m being bombarded with real ideas, good ideas, and those ideas are detailed. My Muse is so happy she’s doing the Happy Dance. 😀  You don’t know how happy this makes me. I’ve found my outlining GROOVE.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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NaNoWriMo Preparations Part 1b

I’ve particpated in quite a few NaNoWriMo’s. With each NaNoWriMo I’ve learned something new. I’ve learned what doesn’t work for me, as well as what does. I’ve also learned that I need an unlimited supply of some type of coffee, whether it’s hot or cold. I also need snacks, healthy and non-healthy. And I also have to exercise–get out of the chair and away from my desk and move around.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned though is that I am not a hardcore outliner, at least not using the “plot” method of ouline. I’ve tried Save the Cat, the Marshall Plan, using beat sheets, spread sheets, index cards, a storyboard (on paper, in Scrivener, and on my wall), and too many other methods to list. I’m not a plot based writer. I’m a character based writer. I’m also more of a loose outliner. I need to leave some things to my imagination–I need to pants a few things so that I don’t get bored, so that I feel the creativite juices stirring and my muse is inspired.

The Hero’s Journey is more or less about the main character (or the hero’s) journey, which seems perfect for the way I write. I toyed around with using the Hero’s Journey and a Plot Method (or three) together, trying to merge the two, and that didn’t work out so well for me. I decided to try just using the Hero’s Journey to write my novel for NaNoWriMo this November. I went so far as to purchase Arwen Lynch’s 33 Days to Finish Your Book (outlining using the hero’s journey and tarot) eCourse. I’m on the third day and loving it so far.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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My Writing Process and How it’s Changed

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Writing

 

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The Truth about August Blackstone

My main character’s name is August Blackstone, at least that’s what I think her name is (she’s named after her grandfather Augustus “Gus” Blackstone). She’s bisexual, in her early thirties, a journalist, and she’s in that phase of life where she’s contemplating what to do next because her grandfather just died and left her a cottage in Black River, SC… Out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s on a lake and it’s gorgeous. Her girlfriend Stacy tells her that going to the funeral is one thing but leaving for a week is irresponsible… Stacy is selfish, controlling, and uses August as a babysitter for her six year old daughter Colby…She tells August if she leaves for more than a week then not to bother coming back.. She changes her mind quickly after she finds out that August has inherited a historic cottage on seventeen acres of riverfront property, and a little over a million and a half. But August came to her senses where Stacy was concerned before she found out about the property or the money, especially after she finds out that her family is cursed. She also meets Dylan Thomas, the sweet, talented and hot, musician who is taking a break from music and being on the road, and working at his father’s hardware store until he figures out what he wants to do.

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She and Dylan fall in love. People, some of whom are friends and family, ask her if she’s past the lesbian phase, if she’s switched sides, if Dylan is alright with her being a bisexual hinting at whether or not he’s okay with threesomes or if maybe he’ll “allow” her to have a girlfriend on the side… BUT August is monogamous. She tries to explain that being a bisexual doesn’t equate infidelity, or having your cake and eating it too,  nor is it a phase. She’s not any more or less bisexual now that she’s with a man than she was when she was with a woman.

It matters not who you love

Dylan’s friends tease him. They give him high fives because he “converted” the lesbian…or “man, you’re the luckiest guy on Earth, what I wouldn’t give for my girlfriend to be bi,” or the “will you be watching or participating or both?” Dylan isn’t into sharing, and is monogamous as well, and though he accepts August the way she is, he wishes other people weren’t stupid and didn’t have to attach labels to everything.

I am human

The fact that they live in a small town in the South doesn’t help matters much, but they learn to deal with things, even the family curse and idiocy of people, as they pursue a way to undo the Blackstone Curse…

dequeered me

For a while I contemplated on whether or not to ignore the sexuality question when writing the book. Just make the book about the family curse and leave the whole sexuality thing out of it.. or perhaps the main character’s cousin Micah could be bisexual and the issues would be hers, not the MC’s, which wouldn’t make the book so much about the issue of sexuality, or bisexuality specifically, but more as a subplot. Would it put it in a specific genre if I continue with the MC being bisexual if her sexuality is only a small part of the book? Not sure about that part… The book itself is more about paranormal, romance, family, friendship, love, honor, obligation, and trust. August is psychic, she has visions in her dreams, and on occasion when she’s awake, of the future or the past (when she touches something). The curse came from a voodoo witch more than a hundred and fifty years ago.

Pondering plot, subplots, theme, and issues… Hmmm…

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Life, Outlining, Writing

 

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Finally something I can feel really good about

I finished April’s Camp with my required word count, but didn’t feel good about the novel at all. It was forced. Headed in a completely different direction, the characters were trite, the words weren’t meshing with the concept I had. I wasn’t happy with it, not at all. But I learned a great deal from the process. I learned that I’m truly a plotster. I need to plot the main ideas, and let the rest flow, otherwise I’m trying too hard and the words don’t flow. No matter which way I’ve tried, I’m mostly a panster who needs the basics to stay on track but plotting makes my skin crawl and my brain freeze.

pantser quote

Cut twenty-five. Take one hundred and seven. Just Kidding. I have no idea of how many starts and stops, beginnings I’ve trashed, or WIP’s I’ve put in the back of the computer closet in order to get to a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. What feels like the ONE, Just call me NEO. Seriously though, I’ve got at least thirty folders pushed to the side on my computer that were the beginning of a novel, only to find it just didn’t feel right. Maybe it’s because I was trying to be the kind of writer I thought I should be instead of the kind of writer I am.

Current Work in Progress

Current Work in Progress

Now I am finally at a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. The first idea that came to me over two years ago, when my then fiance was telling me I could do it, that he believe in me, and there was no reason why I couldn’t write a novel (he’s read my poetry, I’d told him about my short stories and how I used to write but put writing on the back burner because of …well various reasons, but mostly because I allowed what others said to influence me, to negate my own feelings of self-worth and my dreams). That idea stayed in the back of my mind, with each and every WIP I started and tossed it was right there poking and prodding its way to the surface of my conscience saying, “Excuse me! You’re on to something here…Go with it! Find your way!… Excuse me! It doesn’t matter what others think or do, it only matters what you can do and are willing to do…”

Writing on a bad day

I stopped second guessing myself halfway through April’s Camp and started writing so I could figure out what worked best for me. I’d found myself reading books like “The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing,” or “Save the Cat,” along with various other writing books, and I realized that I’d backed myself into a corner of starting but not finishing because I didn’t have the right kind of plan, because I was so focused on the outline or the plan or the process or the genre or the rules or the structure…that I’d lost my great idea. I lost my way because I was constantly second guessing myself as a writer.

Happiness

I’ve written about this before. I’ve written about the differences between plotting, pantsing, and somewhere in between. I’ve written about my ideas, my inspiration…I took a break from blogging, writing, etc after Camp. I needed a break. I needed to figure out where I was as a writer, what I really wanted to do, what kind of writer I wanted to be, and whether or not it was something that was a pipe dream, a hobby, or something I truly felt called to do.

untold story

I am a writer. Whether I ever publish a novel or not, I’m a writer. I’m not a plotter/planner/outliner, though I wish like hell I was. I’m not a full blown pantser either. I need some organization, some planning, or I’ll go off on tangents, which is par for the course with ADHD, and I’ll never finish or if I do it will need more than a shovel for editing, but a bulldozer.

After much thought, inspiration, and soul searching I’ve finally found that sweet spot in my writing. My happy place as a writer. At least, I’ve found what works for me. Maybe this time it will work, and I’ll manage to write my way through to the end with a novel that I don’t feel is forced, drivel, or not worth the ink and paper to print to edit.

 
 

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