Command Central – Where I Bullet Journal and Write

We moved a few months ago into our new home. Our last home had a spare room that we converted into a home office/studio. For 13 years I had a dedicated space for my creativity and paper work. In our new home there are no spare spaces but I still needed a home office/studio. And the alcove between our living room and kitchen was the only place it could go.

The rules: it had to work with our living room furniture, not distract from the open kitchen, the bullet journal, writing, art and office supplies had to be hidden from view and it had to work for me as a creative space. If I couldn’t get comfortable there it wasn’t going to work. So far I’ve done watercolors and made Christmas cards at this desk as well as bullet journaled and written. It works! And was a lot cheaper than buying a home with a den or fourth bedroom. : )

I introduce to you my home office without walls…

Closed, everything is hidden from view. I love Ikea for coming out with such a perfect solution. The bottom is the Hemnes Secretary Desk and we put the add-on cabinet on top. And the bookcase is part of the same line and maximized the space. (Plus I needed a place for my writing and art books.)

The chair matches our kitchen chairs and is ready for those nights when we need to sit 6. The other one is in our bedroom and serves as the chair for my dressing table.

When it is open it transforms into a good sized desk area and keeps everything in one central location.

It holds all the supplies I need along with a big shot die cutter/embosser and a cricut. The top section is for all my stamps, adhesives, embellishments, etc in labeled boxes. As well as my trimmers, dies and embossing folders. For anyone that does NaNoWriMo you’ll recognized the “helmet” the two Ikea doggy tail hooks turn into. I simply couldn’t resist. They were too perfect! If only they were in blue.

The desk area has my washi tape holder from Michaels. It is full. A fact that tortures me every time I see washi I want to buy. I have my pencil crayons and watercolor pencils in cups for easy access and because they don’t need to be stored on their sides. I have my stickers and watercolors and brushes easily within reach on the narrow desk shelves.

It also holds my Michaels organizer for all of my pens, markers (tombow and crayola) and my frixion pens, markers and highlighters and more. The drawers hold more pens and post-its. It is a well designed piece. : )

It may not be a separate room but it is a solution that has brought me peace. I find myself being more creative in my bullet journal with all my supplies easily within reach. All I need to do is open the doors and the possibilities are endless.

For anyone struggling to find a creative space in their home I hope this helps give you some ideas on how you can make your own room without walls. In this day and age of smaller spaces smarter designs are making the difference. Or maybe we’re just borrowing from the past. Either way I’ve found a comfortable space to be me.

Share pics of your creative space. I’d love to see them. : )

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The Tale of Two Notebooks…a traveler’s notebook story

For a while now I have wanted a writer’s bullet journal or notebook but I didn’t like the idea of carrying two separate notebooks with me. I knew that one of them would end up left at home or not easily at hand and would go unused. But the nagging feeling of this novel growing inside me just wouldn’t let it go.

Briefly I tried to scribble story notes in my bullet journal but I felt like they were getting buried in with my everyday tasks. Finding the information again was difficult and clumsy. The other factor that bothered me was the number of pages getting chewed up, making me migrate more often to a new notebook. So I’d end up thinking about the pages getting filled more than concentrating on building the novel. Needless to say the novel creating process suffered. There are lots of abandoned ideas during the novel building process and counting pages as I censored my thoughts and condensed my ideas was leaving me with cliched ideas, a lack of unique details and a lot of wasted ink. A writer needs a place to explore ideas and doodle maps and characters and write notes and there can’t be any restrictions on that.

Then I tried story building using google docs. It didn’t feel natural and I wasn’t getting anywhere with the story development. I prefer to create the bones of a story with pen and paper.

Finally I tried using a thin insert with my bullet journal and traveler’s notebook but I hated the insert. The paper was cheap. Which it was. It was a diy insert that I made using cheap grid paper and cardstock. I hated how the pen moved across the paper. And I didn’t like how short the insert was. A novel takes planning. Lots of planning with lots of notes. Plus I like lined paper for writing. A slightly wider line is perfect for me. Grid is great for layouts but I wasn’t feeling it with my writing.

A week ago I decided I needed a lined notebook for the job. It wasn’t even an expensive notebook. I grabbed one at the dollar store. But it is lined and hardcover and has enough pages to allow me to flesh out the novel growing inside me. And if I didn’t like it I was out $3. I pulled out my traveler’s notebook cover and I slipped my bullet journal into one elastic and the lined notebook into another as my writing notebook. The verdict…I love it so far. Both notebooks are close at hand and since they are held together securely I just grab one “book” and off I go. The traveler’s notebook is giving me writing peace and planner peace. And the writer’s notebook is giving me one place to hold all of the information and details for this novel and my writing.

I only wish I’d left a few pages at the beginning of the writing notebook for an index. Thinking maybe washi tape tabs might work. But that is another bridge to cross on another day. Today is about planner/writer peace and having found it.

So this is my paper romance of sorts just in time for Valentine’s. Hope you are finding writer/planner peace as well and if you are still searching I hope I have given you a new idea that will help lead you to yours.

How to create a simple wreath for your bullet journal – a step by step guide

Wreaths are used to mark the start of a new month or year or to mark special occassions.  
Here’s a quick and easy step by step to creating your own winter inspired wreath.

First off, I use Frixion pens which are erasable gel pens.  If I don’t own Frixions, I would use pencil and copy over your wreath with a fineliner or sharpie pen when you are satisfied by the overall effect.  Wreaths don’t need to be perfect.  They are simply a combination of little doodles that create a complete wreath.

To start I chose a glass in the size that I wanted and traced the circle, centering it onto the page.  No need to use expensive stencils.  I used the circle as a guide as I added the words and flowers and branches that I wanted to complete my welcome 2018 wreath.

Before I added any flowers I chose the words I wanted to use.  I used a technique called faux calligraphy to darken the downward strokes of the letters.  This gives it more character and is easy to learn and doesn’t require a special pen to do.  

I used a poinsetta arrangement that was given to me as my inspiration for the winter theme I wanted to work with.  The poinsetta is the focus of the wreath allowing everything else to compliment it.  I made it the biggest part by adding more petals/leaves around the center then added some lines for detail.  

I didn’t want the two sides to completely mirror each other but I also didn’t want to add too many elements to the wreath.  The swirls are easy and fun and add a bit of whimsy.  The “popcorn” flowers are similar enough to the white flowers that came in the arrangement that I just let the squiggles be and added leaves as needed.  The branches with “berries” on them are simple and another quick winter detail.  The pine needle branches are a nod to the Christmas tree that still stands in the living room.  A reminder that Christmas was only a short time ago.  Pine needles are easy to draw and help to fill the wreath with a heavier element to contrast the lighter details.

Holly was a new element that didn’t have soft, rounded edges and was chosen for contrast and because I wanted to repeat the pine needles and poinsetta but also wanting something new between them.  

All of this was done as quick doodles but the overall effect is pleasant and marks the start of a new year with a special page.  I haven’t decided whether or not to add color.  I will post an update if I do.  : )

This was the completed wreath but I chose to erase the upper arc of the circle since I preferred the openness of the bare circle at the top.  In truth I like both versions but I liked the idea of the wreath being simpler, like I’m hoping 2018 will be.  

So that is my 2018 wreath.  I hope you find inspiration for creating your own and don’t allow this creative page idea to overwhelm you.  Keep it simple, with maybe 4 or 5 elements then mix and match them around the circle.  And have fun!  Creativity should always have an bit of fun and challenge so you can grow as an artist.  : )

Happy 2018!  

Word of the Year Layout

This year I chose the word nourish.  2017 was a year of chaos and change.  Most of it good but the journey came at a cost.  I feel like 2018 is the year to step back from some things and refocus my energy and take some time to take care of the things that matter most to me and to simply take better care of myself.  

The layout is simple, done in black ink with washi tape for a pop of color.  I chose three quotes that I hope will remind me to be kinder to myself.  And I determined the ways I would do that.  I’m not very good at putting myself first.  I always feel guilty when I do.  But I need to start doing so if I want to have the energy and the wellbeing to do so.  Thus the gentle reminders that it’s okay to take care of me. 

I invite you to share your word of the year layouts.  And I hope 2018 is everything you want it to be and that your word choice helps in that journey.  If it doesn’t, flip to the next page and give yourself a new word that better suits your needs. 

New Years Resolutions and My Bullet Journal…2018, to my best year yet!

First I should admit that I don’t usually do new year’s resolutions.  But this year with the help of my trusted bullet journal I hope to bring to light the things I should do more often and ensure my big goals don’t get ignored with all the little things that must be done or seem like they must be done at the sacrifice to my dreams.  A lot has changed in a short time so in many ways 2018 will be a fresh start.  We’ve had the chance to free ourselves of much of the clutter we found ourselves living with for no other reason than it was there.  It came in the house and it stayed even if its purpose had passed.  We’re making changes to our new home that make us happy instead of just making due.  We are trying to use proper storage so things have a home.  But it’s deeper than that.  It’s changing how I view every part of my life.  Including how I schedule tasks.  I suffer from last-minute-itis.  And I never get everything done that I hope to complete.

So this year I plan to actually use the monthly task/braindump page that I create every month and never fill in.  What good is a tool if you don’t use it?  I threw out or donated so many things I’d barely used or never used in some cases.  Some things got tucked away and I forgot I owned them.  I also realized I don’t plan ahead enough.  I make Christmas cards for friends and family.  Nothing is stopping me from making them in September or October or November (well, NaNoWriMo, but I could get a few cards done even with that).  Even the first week of December would be better than what I’ve been doing.  So better, smarter planning is in my future.  It’s a little change but I hope it gives me huge rewards. 

I’ve lost two days to a rather vicious flu and I realized that all those close enough to last minute tasks I had scheduled have now become last minute tasks that I have to complete on Christmas eve.  And that’s only if I feel up to it.  Cutting it too close, time and time again.  That’s not how I want my future self to live.  It’s too stressful.  

Lastly, I tend to leave myself last in the order of things letting my writing take a backseat and often my health as well.  I eat too late or not at all and I’m beginning to feel it.  I need to place more importance on me.  And I remind myself that it’s not selfish to do so.  We only get one life to live and I’m not using mine the way I wish to.  My goals and dreams need to become a priority if I wish to fulfill them.  

So my word for the year is nourish.  Mind, body and soul.  Writing is for my mind, exercise and eating right and regularly for my body and quiet moments of review and reflection for my soul.  Another piece of bullet journaling that is supposed to happen but doesn’t.  

2018 starts in a week.  In that time I hope to put the chaos of 2017 behind me and start anew.  2018…my best year yet!

Post NaNoWriMo Guilt

I may not have made it to 50000 words this November but I did achieve a good portion of it.  The first week of December I kept up the habit.  Got my 750 words in each day then more of life happened, then Christmas prep and the days are flying by and the words are not happening.  I’ve failed to make them a priority.  And I’m kicking myself.  If it didn’t matter to me, no big deal.  But it is important to who I am and who I want to be.  

I have to get that half hour of writing time in each day.  If I want to be a published author that is how it is done.  2018 is right around the corner and I’ve decided it’s my year to succeed.  I know I’m going to stumble and fall.  But if I keep making it a priority it will eventually pay off.  My name will be on the spine of a published book in my local bookstore and maybe a bookstore near you.  : )  

That’s the dream and I plan to make it a reality.  750 words at a time.  Or more when the opportunity arrives.  NaNo taught me that I can do more.  I can be more.  I can write.  And I will.  Life will give me my thirty minutes a day.  I demand it!  It is priority #1.  

NaNoWriMo 2017 Recap

I guess the first question that needs to be answered is did I win?  Did I make it to 50000 words in 30 days?  I did not.  Apparently moving and building furniture and writing 50000 words in the same month do not mix.  Am I sad?  Not really.  On the days I could write I brought in numbers that make me proud.  Numbers I have never reached before.  I wrote 37348 words and learned a lot about my novel after a false start and a tangent that was fun to write but didn’t exactly fit with the direction of the story I planned to tell.  

For 8 days of the month I wrote zero words.  For another 8 days I wrote under 500 words, often way under 500 words.  For 5 days I wrote under 1000 words and yes, I’m including the day I wrote 523 in that grouping.  Lol!    So for most of the month it came down to 9 days of writing big numbers.  4 of those were around 1000 words.  The other 5 were between 3062 to 7482.  I had two 7000+ days.  I didn’t know I could do that.  


So do I consider NaNoWriMo 2017 to be a fail.  Not at all.  I have 37000 new words, a true start to my novel and some record breaking numbers that will forever remind me that I can produce more than I thought I’m capable of.  How do I know?  I did it!  I made it happen by putting butt in chair, using google docs and writing on my phone when I was away from my computer and pushing myself to write more when the opportunities arose.  I also have to thank the wonderful person who created the Word crawl/NaNoWriMo Academy Crawl for some much needed inspiration and the push I needed to keep going at times when the feeling of defeat was beginning to win.  Plus I learned to keep my outline close.  When I didn’t have it I wrote some strange stuff.  
Now that November is over I haven’t stopped writing.  I have a novel to finish after all.  I signed up at 750words.com to challenge myself to write every day.  Because if I’ve learned one thing from NaNoWriMo this year, if I’d just written 750 words on the days I wrote nothing or less than 500 words I would have won.  I still would have needed some big number days but together they would have been enough.  

So I invite you to join me at 750words.com to keep making our writing a daily priority.  Hope to see you there.  : )

Two-thirds of the month remain…

A third of the month may be over and I’ve managed to write just over 3000 words.  I could feel defeated but I don’t.  There are still 20 days remaining in the month of November and I’m going to use them well. I need some good days to get caught up and my daily word count is higher but I’m still able to do this.  I haven’t been doing short sprints when the opportunity allows.  That I’m going to fix.  So today I am recommitting myself to my project and letting the negative thoughts fall away.  Any new words are new words and I’m going to write as many as this November allows, starting with a writing sprint right now.  I’ve got this.  NaNoWriMo 2017 for the win!!!  : )  

Moving and NaNoWriMo

Moving and NaNoWriMo do not mix.  But that said I am writing when I can and for a few days that meant only a couple hundred words.  But that’s better than zero words.  It doesn’t help that we bought a lot of new furniture from ikea.  I hadn’t accounted for the time needed to build each piece.  But I keep writing.  My plan for heavy word counts at the beginning have given way to doing them during the middle and the end of the month when life becomes more settled.  Just keep going!  Keep pumping out those words.  Life will happen.  It is up to you to steal moments to write.  Sprint away.  I plan to get to 50000 words writing in sprints.  You can too.  : )

NaNoWriMo Eve…

I can’t believe that it’s October 31st.  In a few short hours it will be November 1st and the first words will hit the page.  And 50000 of them will follow over the next 30 days.  I’m excited and nervous and bursting with energy to just sit down and to truly get to know my main character.  

Her situation has so much hope, yet there is this underbelly of threat that can destroy it all.  I don’t want her to give up but there are others to think about.  But I want her to win.  I want her to take her life back.  The world she leaves is not one she should ever go back to, but to keep her friends safe she might.  I wonder if they will go after her.  Will they save her?  They’ve already done it once taking her into their world and showing her that everything she knew was wrong.  But that was in the safety of the world they knew.  Will they enter the underbelly of her world and bring her home?  I hope so.  That’s the story I want to write.  That’s the story that will keep me going over the next 30 days.  

Good luck on reaching your goals.  Reward yourself as you go.  You’ve got this!  NaNoWriMo 2017 for the win!!!