Reasons NOT to Start Bullet Journaling

Reasons NOT to Start Bullet Journaling

Between the blog and Google Calendar and my stash of $0.99 purple-covered composition books from Wal-Mart, I was doing just fine keeping up with the chronicles of daily life, various appointments, and the to-do list. I didn’t need a Bullet Journal. I didn’t want a Bullet Journal. I’d resisted the siren call to even return to the Day Timer ever since they closed my favorite brick-and-mortar store, got trendy, and doubled their prices.

And then my daughter mentioned she’d gotten into Bullet Journaling.

I was intrigued. Thus far, I’d resisted the siren call of the BuJo Cult, but with my daughter singing its praises, how could I remain on the outside, looking in?

Now, I’m sitting here, mentally paralyzed by the intimidatingly pristine blank pages of three lovely Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, surrounded by vibrant, smooth, fine-liners in ten assorted colors, and a cheap twelve-pack of stencils to make my own organizing layouts, wondering what I’ve done to my brain.

This is not healthy. Of course, at its most most basic minimalism, Bullet Journaling is exactly what I’ve been happily doing in those $0.99 composition books all along. It is meant to be simple. It wasn’t designed to be a competitive, artistic sport. And it suits the creative rebellion I always felt in trying to fit my mind-maps into Day Timer’s pre-made page templates and system. I just didn’t have a name for it. I only had two “signifiers” – a bullet or a checkmark. To-do, and done. Best of all, I could rip out pages. I could scrap the whole thing and start over if it got too messy. I could doodle up the margins, scribble notes during meetings, get all anal-retentive about my hand-writing, and not worry about presenting it as an artful, coherent whole. At $0.99, I could give myself permission to write utter crap and get stuff done. I was beating the perfectionism monster at its own game. I was almost free.

But you don’t do that in an archival-quality, hard-bound, bookmark-festooned, purple journal that comes with an expanding storage compartment for your damned stencils. And you certainly don’t do it when you’ve invested time and effort in gussying it up with “layouts” and colorful doodles and bits of flotsam and jetsam your brain’s dropped into “collections” and indexed. This is exactly why I always bought Day Timers with five-ring binders and removable pages, and exactly why I have a dozen cheap composition books from Wal-Mart.

Dare I point out that the Index belongs at the back of the book, or that odd-numbered pages belong on the right-hand side?

Dare I gripe about the iPhone bigotry and there being no Android app, when the whole point of this is to go back to basics, pen, and paper?

To add insult to injury, I found the Bullet Journalers’ NaNoWriMo layout videos.

Dear Diary-from-Hell, I can’t do this. 

I’m also taking part in the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge
#writebravely #writetribeproblogger You can click here to explore posts by fellow Write Tribers.

Reasons NOT to Start Bullet Journaling

Serial Blogger

Once you’ve considered the pros and cons of blogging your NaNoWriMo novel – or, anything, really – and have decided to go for it, how do you tie all the chapters or related posts together on the blog? Building a table of contents is a bit tedious, and requires extensive cross-linking and updates to be really reader-friendly.

If you use self-hosted WordPress, you’re in luck. The Display Posts Shortcode plug-in by Bill Ericsson is ideal for that and more! The following list of links uses a shortcode with parameters for the tags “nanowrimo” and “nanowrimo2017” and specifies that the list should include excerpts, if defined in the posts.

See the documentation for the Display Posts Shortcode plug-in for all the supported parameters; this plug-in is very easy-to-use, but powerful and flexible. Once you set up the shortcode for your table of contents, all you need to do is copy it to all the posts where you want it to appear. The list of links will be updated as you post, provided the criteria you establish in the shortcode parameters is matched.

Reasons NOT to Start Bullet Journaling

Should I Blog the Novel-in-Progress? #NaNoWriMo #WriteBravely

There are good reasons to blog the novel during #NaNoWriMo, and there are excellent reasons not to. It’s entirely up to you, but you need to consider a few things before you commit to a decision: Copyright, Commitment, and Willingness to Fail.


You won’t “lose copyright” to your work by posting it on your blog, but you will be giving up or sharing potentially profitable rights. This confuses a lot of novice writers, and it depends on what, if anything, you plan to do with your NaNoWriMo novel later. For a simple overview of copyright and the implications of posting online, see Copyright Essentials for Writers. It’s not a definitive guide to copyright, or all of its nuanced implications on the world wide web. Just the basics, as they apply to most of us.

But when it comes to submitting, publishing, and selling your work, you could be giving away valuable rights (not “copyright” per se) just by posting the work publicly, anywhere. Until the work is first published, its contents are a secret that readers will pay more to discover. “First rights” are more valuable, generally, than reprint rights. When you post, you generally agree to share, for free, the digital rights with whoever owns the platform that lets you publish your words to the web. Read the terms of service for your web hosting company. You may be surprised at what you’ve already given away for free.

But this is not (generally) a nefarious move on their part; they require those rights in order to do exactly what you’ve asked them to do – to publish your work on the Internet without the fear of you, or any publisher you may sell your story to, suing them for a copyright violation. In fact, if you try to sell your blogged novel to a traditional publisher and fail to disclose that it is “published” already, they could sue you for a copyright violation. You simply no longer have “first worldwide rights,” in whatever language you posted, to sell them, and attempting to do so would be fraudulent. That doesn’t mean you don’t still have copyright – it just means your book has been “previously published.”

There are also other rights that can be separately sold: reprint rights, syndication rights, movie rights, product rights, rights in translation, TV rights – the list is almost as long as your imagination and a buyer’s willingness to buy. For an unknown author, more typically, a publisher will offer to buy all rights for a one-time fee. Before you get too excited by such an offer, remember that Harry Potter was rejected numerous times before it was bought for a limited run of 500 copies by a very small, also relatively unknown, publisher in the UK. Had J.K. Rowling accepted an offer to buy “all rights,” that publisher might be worth billions, but she would still be living on public assistance.

I would argue that most of us are not going to write the next wildly successful, bestselling novel during NaNoWriMo, and live-blogging the thing can be a lot of fun. But then again, you might use November to begin the draft of an incredible literary work, if you’re willing to put in the effort to edit and polish it later.


Every time I’ve tried live-blogging NaNoWriMo, the novel has fizzled out after a few chapters. Will you leave your readers hanging in suspense? I have several who’ve committed to buy Eradicating Edna, if I ever finish it. I am seriously thinking of continuing last year’s romp, which I’m tentatively titling, The Bonny Anapest, this year:

All I can say about this is that you have to give yourself permission to quit without self-flagellation. To quit live-blogging the thing, or to quit writing it, altogether.

Willingness to Fail (in Public)

Before you start blogging your NaNoWriMo novel, you need to commit to the idea that it just isn’t life or death. If you get to 5,234 words and think, “This just isn’t fun at all, anymore,” and catch yourself snapping at loved ones because you’re torn between deadlines like dinner or 1,667 words, just stop. Breathe. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can possibly happen if I don’t write 50,000 words this month?” Is anybody going to die? (If you’re writing a murder mystery, your characters may be breathing a sigh of relief! If you’re writing an apocalyptic demon ninjas vs. nuclear zombies kind of novel, millions may live rather than die a horrible, slow, brain eating death!) Could you maybe push yourself – just a little – to write 25,987 words by November 30 instead of just quitting 5,234 words in? ProTip: fumbling sex scenes and long, rambling, dream sequences are great for increasing word count. So are drunken sing-a-longs, random ninjas, epic stream-of-consciousness description of moody settings – and never use a semicolon where a conjunction will do.

Now, can you laugh about this and do it in public?

Many have, and have survived to tell the tale. If you do it in public, you’re probably not half the laughingstock you think you are (you’re not trying hard enough!!); there are others doing it with you, and feeling better for knowing they’re in good company.

It’s similar to killing (or creatively torturing) the inner critic and shoving the perfectionist monster back in the closet: call a truce with yourself and your inner demons for a month. That may be the most important thing you’ll gain from participating in NaNoWriMo, if you can manage it. If you can’t manage it, it will kill you. Maybe not in November, but eventually it will.

You don’t have to win everything. Even a silly little badge that says you wrote a novel in a month. But you can’t win at life if you don’t get in the game, so whether it’s NaNoWriMo or some other thing that tempts and challenges and scares you a little, jump into the fray and try. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen? If the answer isn’t, “Someone could die,” then what have you got to lose?

I’m also taking part in the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge
#writebravely #writetribeproblogger You can click here to explore posts by fellow Write Tribers.

Reasons NOT to Start Bullet Journaling

Gnome’s-Eye View of My Herb Garden

Wow, speaking of a fresh perspective! A few weeks ago, my husband recycled the base of an old, rusted basketball hoop into a container garden for me. It wasn’t that I asked him to – I think he realized, finally, that showing me the second copperhead snake he found outside our door had deterred me from enjoying the yard I’d once craved. He’s coaxing me back out into the wild, bit by bit, knowing that – despite my notorious black thumb and talent for killing even silk plants – I occasionally have an urge to grow edible things. He suggested starting with an herb garden, and did all but plant the herbs for me.

You’ve seen my plot bunnies and dragons – now let me introduce you to the magical garden gnome with his solar-powered crystal ball. Click and drag on the image below, and you should be able to explore the garden from the gnome’s perspective.

[wpvr id=”1010314″]

I recently upgraded my mobile phone to a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – a move cleverly timed to take advantage of the offer of a free Samsung Gear 360 Camera. It took several weeks, but the camera finally arrived. Without an SD card. Just a note for those who ordered the camera but haven’t received or tried it out, yet – you’ll need to order a micro SD card if you want to take pictures. Seems obvious – who would buy a camera if they didn’t want to take a photo? But there you go. I bought the Samsung 64GB 100MB/s (U3) MicroSDXC EVO Select Memory Card with Adapter, and it arrived this afternoon. 

This is almost as much fun as I imagine flying a drone would be, without the need for FAA licensing, manual dexterity, and 3D spatial awareness needed to keep from ramming it into the ground. Repeatedly.

You can see my first real photo above – and I hope that you’re able to move around and view it in all its 360-degree glory. Naturally, the first thing I do when I get a shiny new tech toy in pristine white is shove it into spider-infested potting soil. But how often do you get to see dill and basil from this perspective? Assuming this works well, the plug-in I’m using is WP VR – 360 Panorama and virtual tour creator for WordPress by Rextheme. It was kindly recommended to me by Jahir C as a replacement for the outdated plug-in that I was using.

Playing outside, just now, I realized there’s only one thing worse for us arachnophobes than finding spiders in the garden.

Losing them.

I haven’t yet tried video, live streaming, or VR – we’ll get to that. Meanwhile, can you find my garden gnome?

Reasons NOT to Start Bullet Journaling

Here, There Be Dragons – Plot Dragons!

My fellow Write Triber, Vinodini Iyer wrote, in a comment on my Plot Bunnies, Ninjas, and Tales of Derring-Do, “My plot bunnies sometimes start dragging a bit and I need to turn them into plot dragons to make worth a read.” Naturally, my plot dragons wanted to meet her plot dragons!

Forever Friends

My first plot dragon was really more of an imaginary friend – or a friend to my imagination. His name was Puff:

Dragons live forever, but not so, little boys (or girls)… we can only hope to join them on Honalee, when our time comes.


The dragons, of course, keep company with the unicorns. Shel Silverstein and The Irish Rovers introduced me to their silly unicorns:

They mostly sleep through the summer and come out to frolic at Christmas time. Like me, the unicorns love to climb trees!

Magical Christmas Unicorns

The Art of Naming Creatures and Building Character

Adorable as they are, you’re probably wondering, by now, what these creatures really have to do with NaNoWriMo – or anything, really, beyond proving that Her Authorship is a crazy lady who collects whimsical critters and occasionally sleeps with them in a blanket fort. It’s about building – or not building – character. I say “not building,” because, for some of us, it’s more like the characters reveal themselves as needed, taking their own sweet time about it. Some of the creatures you’ve met in this and my last post have names; others remain nameless because they haven’t yet told me their names. In time, I trust, they will.

Click that link if you’d like an introduction. The critters have a twisted sense of humor, too.

Just as I admire the planners and outliners and plotters of the world, but am not one of them, so do I admire those who keep character sheets and notebooks and details about each cast member in advance of penning the tales in which they act. Unfortunately, I am what’s known as a “pantser,” or one who “writes by the seat of her pants.” The story unfolds for me as it unfolds for you – as I write it. The characters “appear” as needed, and they tell their own story. When I attempt to “stage manage” or direct them, they rebel. They dig their heels in and refuse to move or speak. I once switched from first person point-of-view to third, and then had to threaten my thirteen year old protagonist: “If you don’t start cooperating, I’ll dress you in your big sister’s clothes and send you off to middle school that way!” No one was more surprised than I was when that worked.

None of my characters like to be controlled any more than you or I do! If I sit back, wave them onto the stage, and listen, then writing becomes as easy as taking dictation. As their personalities take shape, their names pop into my head.

There is no “right way” or “wrong way” to go about it; there is “what works” and “what doesn’t work.” You’ll know the “what doesn’t work” by its most obvious symptom: “Writer’s Block.” If you stare at a blank page for 15 minutes or more, and words do not magically appear, you may need to try a different approach. Remember, it’s not wrong, if it works for you.

I’m also taking part in the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge
#writebravely #writetribeproblogger You can click here to explore posts by fellow Write Tribers.