Camp NaNoWriMo: what I learned in April 2019

I know, it’s halfway through May. I’ve been…working on my bullet journal! Yea. Seriously though, I’ve been writing!


If you’re planning to write Camp NaNoWriMo in July, I recommend tracking minutes, not hours.

I whole heartedly recommend using bullet journal techniques to keep on top of your novel development – but I have yet to figure out what I like best so if you’re here looking for bullet journal recommendations I might not be any help. I also have no idea what format to use for a novel bullet journal. I’ve tried some stuff in a bound book and all sense of organization is lost so binders are better…. but then I ran into issues with different kinds of paper being harder to flip through and I think I might need better quality paper? Little things that might seem like acceptable allowances or compromises now might not work later. Learn what you like and what works for you and stick with it.

So, here’s my list.

  • Tracking something besides word count helps a ton. This is the first time I did any kind of bullet journal style tracking other than word counts. Turns out it’s important to track something besides words.
  • Brainstorming takes more brain power than writing scenes but I can still spend more time on it than I thought I could. I had multiple productive hour long sessions.
  • Brainstorming is idea development. You already have something, like a question, when you start. You are *not* looking at a blank page.
  • There’s lots of ways around blank pages.
  • Brain dumps are useful on a semi regular basis when I’m trying to get an idea figured out. Brain dumps are vomiting ideas onto paper or screen.
  • Organization is your friend and you aren’t as organized as you think you are, or I’m not anyways.
  • It’s important for me to write long hand on paper and on the computer. They both make my brain work in different ways. Paper is mostly better and might be easier to organize.
  • Once I get to the 8000-12000 words window in Scrivener I need to clean up my files and organizing or I got lost and don’t write anything. I noticed it with my current project and this seems to be the window where I start to lose my focus. Preferably, I can stop this from happening at all.
  • When I get lost and lose focus on what I’m doing is when I feel overwhelmed.
  • I need to experiment more on bullet journal techniques and what to keep track of where. By this I mean tracking more than just words or time. I also mean story items that have to do with characters, plot, setting, theme, etc.
  • Write in pencil because then you can erase!
  • Write on both sides of the paper for idea development that’s list based but not when you’re doing a brain dump.
  • You are *not* a pantser.
  • Be patient with yourself. Learning your writing process is a lot more complicated than I once thought.

I think that’s everything. For now. I’m sure I’ll learn more this month. For May I’ve got a page on my blog for tracking time and a page in my binder for tracking too. We’ll see which one I stick with come June.

Working on setup for my new Bullet Journal 

Every time I move to a new journal I make my journal a little more stream lined and I’ve learned a lot in the past journal. I think I started this October 2015 and this is my third journal. Since I’ve learned there are definitely some things better tracked long term or monthly instead of daily or weekly this journal might last longer too. 

Here’s my new one. 

Some things I’ve noticed. The elastic band closure for the notebook is wider and stronger. The paper isn’t exactly smooth but it’s very strong and sturdy. The book itself feels sturdy. I made sure to go thru and try to stress the spine evenly so the book won’t fall open to the same pages all the time. Can’t tell (yet) how to describe how it feels to write on. It handles the Faber Castell PITT artist pens well. The ghosting from the brush size pen is very obvious but not unpleasant enough to annoy me. I’ll have to check different colors of my uniball pens to see how the ghosting varies by color. 

I think I really like the grid lines. 

And the stickers came from Michaels. I bought them 50% off. Even though these are for the specific Create 365 brand of journals I think I can use most of these to add some variety to my bullet journal. 

I’ve been using a slip over the front cover pen/pocket holder thing but I might switch it to my doctor appointment tracking journal instead and keep my pens for my bullet journal in one of two other holders. The slip cover makes it difficult to write on the left side of the journal when there are pens in it which wouldn’t be an issue with my appointments tracking since I only write on the facing/right page. The green case will hold my ruler but the pens would knock around. The blue case holds pens or pencils more securely. 

They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Let’s talk about notebooks for Bullet Journals

I’ve been keeping a bullet journal and adapting the techniques to my own life for now over a year. At least. I’m needing a new journal so I thought I’d do more research this time around.

Previously, I’ve used the official Bullet Journal, a Leuchtturm1917, and a Rhodia webnotebook. All of these have the dot grid style page. Rhodia has 90 gsm weight paper but the Bullet Journal and Leuchtturm both have 80 gsm weight paper (since Bullet Journal is made by Leuchtturm) and that’s not think enough for me. I really like the index and page numbers in the Leuchtturm but it’s not worth the trade off of thinner paper for me. I seem to have a heavy hand and prefer liquid ink. Though I’m also having a great experience with a Faber Castell artist pen. I would get another Rhodia except it has the least number of sheets (96), which is slightly offset by being able to use every page, but it seemed best to check my options.

I’ve also been using a pocket thing slipped over the front of the notebook to hold pens/etc. I could switch things up and attach this to my doctor appointment tracking journal instead. Especially since I’ve started favoring different pens in different journals. (I favor a lined book for that notebook but that’s another post.)

Thank you to the random people who wrote up great blog posts about what they thought were different options. Through a few google searches I found more notebooks than these listed here. Call this selection the finalists.

Rhodiarama Soft Cover Notebook – pretty, very pretty. The slightly larger size would probably offset the fewer sheets (80), but still these are kind of expensive. I love the paper in Rhodia books too – the look, feel on my hand, and how it handles ink.

Miquelrius Soft Bound Medium Journal, 300 Sheets/600 Graph Pages – The paper weight is only at 70 so I would definitely only be able to use one side of the sheet but it’s more sheets! Overall, I’m still getting more pages than the other notebooks I’ve tried. But, I’m not sure a fountain pen wouldn’t bleed through multiple pages and I’d like to be able to go back to using my fountain pen(s) more since they are (more) comfortable.

Northbooks Dots Hardcover Notebook – Then I found this one. It seems simple enough and has all requirements. The 89 gsm paper should fit my requirements and the 96 sheets are ok. But there’s nothing compelling here.

And I think this one is the winner:

Essentials Grid-lined Notebook – It has 100 gsm paper! Also, while doing my research I realized I’d like to try grid-lined instead of dot grid. It only has 192 pages but it’s $12.99 (full retail from manufacturer) which is a significant enough difference to make it more attractive than a Rhodia. Also, maybe the binding is better?

Tangent:

When looking up the Essentials Grid-lined Notebook on the Peter Pauper Press’ website I discovered log books that might be relevant to my interests. Daily Food Journal which could be used for symptoms for nailing down food sensitivities. The Book Lover’s Journal which might be something I want to help me remember books I’ve read. I’m not sure about the Daily Food Journal though, maybe just save it for the future. I’m more tempted by the book log book.

Maybe I’ll make another post when I investigate new tips for my Lamy fountain pens and find some alternatives to the ribbon bookmarks common in this style of notebook.