Bullet Journaling: The Cure for the Disorganized Writer’s Brain by Kate DeHart

Over most of my writing career, I have this frustrating scenario that repeats itself. I’m either driving, in the shower, or in the dark just about to fall asleep. This happens during the silent times, when not much else can distract me. Of course, it’s also when I have zero easy access to pen, paper, a napkin, or a computer. It’s when my story creating brain goes on overdrive, and the best of my best comes out. And then, I race in my head to memorize as much as I can until I can get to something to record it on.

Inevitably, more times than not, it disappears. Lost into the part of my brain that holds a black hole filled with what I felt had exactly what I needed for a story. It’s one of the most infuriating things about writing for me. I had something, and then I don’t. Moving on with something less inspiring is disheartening.

Recently, a friend I greatly admire started raving about Bullet Journals. She’s one of the types that seem to have every inch of her life organized neatly. She’s done KonMarie. She’s a minimalist. She jots nice little plans for all sorts of things in her life, and puts everything in a color coded notebook. She’s got it all together, or at least seems to have the world figured out.

I’m…not that.


It’s not that I’m always horribly disorganized. I can sort and separate, and even manage to add things to my Google Calendar once in awhile. But I don’t like rigidity. Mostly because I find I often fall short, and giving myself too many areas to fail in is depressing.

So I basically poo-pooed her fancy journal with everything organized in pretty coded symbols. And then, I looked at some of what it contained. Lists of movies to watch, books to read, favorite places she’d visited. There were some things I could never imagine myself listing.

One of the things I started to love about it though, was all of this information in simple lists, in a small book that could fit in the car, by the bed, or on a bathroom counter. They were easy to go back to. There could even be pretty doodles along the edges. Okay, that part might just be for my distract-able brain.

Now, I’ve just started my journal. I’m a newbie. And it’s not a fancy book, since I haven’t bought one yet. It’s just a small notebook. I also need to get better at carrying it everywhere. But I’ve started it. I want my journal to house all of these ideas that swirl in my head, that somehow I can’t access after picking up kids, making meals, and corresponding with other humans. This journal can be an extension of my brain, where I can sort through and access the quick thoughts.

What kinds of things will I keep in it? Well, I’m not entirely sure yet. But here are some of my ideas. In bullet form, of course.

  • Jotting characteristics of setting if a picture develops in my head
  • Character traits as they pop up, including things they might be feeling
  • Story ideas
  • Dialog
  • Prose or phrasing that comes to me
  • Things I come across in my daily life that I may use someday in a book
  • Title ideas
  • Character name ideas
  • Characters I imagine that may be used down the line
  • Basic outlines for scenes
  • Other things I want to read, watch, or listen to for inspiration
  • Collages of character inspiration
  • Creative word exercises(like coming up with a word that represents something in the story and thinking of every word that I can that relates to it)


I’m sure there’s so much more I will include. If you have some ideas, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear if you’ve incorporated Bullet Journaling in your writing too.

About the author

Born a daydreamer, Kate DeHart continued the hobby that often got her in trouble as a child into adulthood, only now she calls it writing. When she’s not engaged in imaginary worlds, she spends her time with her husband and two children in California, exploring life and searching for joy. She also loves photography, reading, knitting, travel, and other random creative things. Oh, and now she designs covers, too!



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