Get Crazy Creative with Your Bullet Journal

by Lynn S. Schwebach

I arrived reluctantly at the bullet journal idea, thinking it would be one more unexciting thing for me to do, one more task that takes me away from creating, one more boring detail for my already cluttered mind. But as I let out-of-the-box thinking take over, the journal took a turn I never expected.

Sure, I know many people who use their bullet journal as a creative outlet and their journals are fantastic—many are works of art. But I am an artist already creating works of art, so I saw this journal only as a way to get organized and establish goals.

(To read my previous bullet journal articles, see article one, article two, article three, and article four.)

Originally I thought I was too busy with a daily sketchbook and other aspects of my art business to use the journal as an artistic outlet. However in late November, I decided to set aside time to enter the first six months of 2019, January through May, and I used each month’s title page for a sketch.

My January title page.

So while my journal still does not look like the artistic genius of some Pinterest examples, it does look better than my first attempt where I simply glued scraps of paper onto pages.

I also examined my first bullet journal to see what worked for me, what didn’t, and what I needed to add.

For example, the “key” of symbols did not work for me.

For my bullet journal year 2, I did not use a “Key.”

Symbols for tasks completed or uncompleted, or special icons for birthdays or other events were too much work. I simply wrote events and plans down on their respective dates.  (Yikes! I got rid of the bullets!)

Brainstorming was one of my main bullet-journal activities. I carry it to appointments, meetings, the grocery store, and on planes, trains and automobiles. And my mind constantly churns with ideas, so when I want to remember something, I open my journal and write it down. I sketch painting ideas as well. I used to do this randomly with numerous odd sketchbooks and notepads, but they landed in piles, on shelves, and buried within all my other stuff. Never did I keep everything in one place and never did I carry an idea book everywhere I went. So I added more pages for brainstorming and other mind mapping activities.

I have also started listening to more podcasts, and friends tell me about certain shows so in order to remember them (like books) I added a page entitled “Podcasts to Download.”

But the point where a bullet-journal idea reached into my soul and told me this annoying “to do list within Moleskin” could become something different, something experimental, something with depth, then at that point, I began to fully accept this business tool into my life.

After all, my artwork is all about experimentation, why shouldn’t my bullet journal be experimental?

Let me explain.

Daily travel entries in my bullet journal.

During my first couple of days in Sydney, Australia, I jotted down a few things I did, places I visited, where I ate and new foods I tried and liked. After a week, I wrote down more. I entered each day’s highlights. I asked waiters and waitresses for recipe ingredients. I noted what I liked and didn’t like about certain tourist adventures, restaurants, hotels and AirBnBs. I entered the names of birds, prehistoric-looking reptiles, and names of aboriginal artists. Exhibits in museums that gave me a jolt became a part of my bullet journal.

And when my son arrived in Australia, he grabbed the journal and started sketching. My husband did the same—actually before my son. (We all like to draw and in the States, I often save paper tablecloths from restaurants where they provide us with crayons. Again, who knows what has happened to these masterpieces?)

Pinochle scores in the bullet journal.

One night we needed paper to record our pinochle scores.   (We are extremely competitive, old school, pinochle players.) We used the back, unused pages of the bullet journal.

One of my husband’s drawings in my bullet journal.

At first the idea of sharing my journal turned me a bit snarly, but then I saw it was a way to add to its character. My journal transformed itself from a log of planned events, goals, and daily reminders into a creative chronicle of our Australian sabbatical. It became a kind of ad hoc scrapbook that I will read in the future to look back on this trip.

Plus it has become a type of generative tool. Many unique ideas come to my mind while traveling but I often don’t take the time to record them. Now the bullet journal has become a place to record and initiate idea generation. ( See the article Creative “Aha” Moments While Taking A Break).

The point? Get crazy creative with your journal. Use it in whatever way it helps you in your life and business. Yes, allow those Pinterest examples and other highly crafty-calligraphic-artsy-bullet journals to inspire you. But no, don’t let these examples intimidate you, and don’t think you have to replicate them. Make this journal your own. Give your journal an original, quirky, out-of-the-box identity. Open your mind and journal for unexpected results. And remember to take it with you on your next trip.

To visit my Etsy shop, go to Schwebach Arts on Etsy.

To visit my fine art website, go to Schwebach Arts.

Follow me on Instagram: @schwebacharts

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