updates

Update 31/08/18

Update 31/08/18

Once again, I’m going to post updates every month on where I am at with my writing or lack thereof.

Reading

Zero writing has taken place this month, but I have been reading up a storm. I caught up with my backlog of reviews, and next month, I plan to include what I read in my updates, but there are far too many reviews to include in today’s post.

Scheduling and Planning

The majority of my time, though incredibly limited by mama duties, was used scheduling five months of blog posts and starting to plan a marketing system for my books that works for me. Okay, so I’ll do one book shoutout. Five Minute Marketing for Authors by Barb Asselin has some interesting ideas I want to implement, and five minutes seems too good to be true, right? We’ll see.

For future reference, my Writerly Wisdom posts will go live every Wednesday, and my Updates posts will be featured on the last Friday of the month.

Coming Up

Keep your eyes peeled on my various social media platforms for any mini updates on how I’m doing with the above, and there are some book reviews coming soon. I hope you have a productive month.


Find K.J.Chapman on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

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Guest Post

Guest Post: Sarina Langer on Bullet Journals

book review(1)

Guess who’s back on my blog today? Yep, fantasy author, Sarina Langer. Sarina has taken time out of her busy release week for her new book, Wardens of Archos, to guest post on Writerly Bookish Stuff.

Sarina is a bullet journal (BuJo) advocate, and is here today to explain what a bullet journal is, why she benefits from using one, and how you can get started on your own. I’m all ears for this post. Over to you, Sarina!


Bullet Journals

Chances are you’ve at least heard of the bullet journal, even if you’re not sure what it is, exactly. It’s grown in popularity over the last few years, and sites like Instagram and Pinterest are full of beautiful examples. The bullet journal is a way of organising anything you want, in a way that suits you. I recommend you check out the original website, too.

What I love the most about my bullet journal is the flexibility, the creativity, and the ability to plan and organise everything the way I want. You can imagine it like a planner that does exactly what you need, without limitations. When you buy a basic planner or a diary, you have a page for each day or a two-page spread for each week, but sometimes you just want something… more.

 

If a week is going to be quiet, you can use as little space for it as you think is necessary. If you know one week is going to be busy and one page won’t do, you can spread it out over as many pages as you need.

But there is one downside, and it’s why many people eventually give up on it. Your bullet journal takes time. Why draw a spread for every month when a regular planner already comes with twelve? Why set aside time every Monday morning to write down every day that week and date it, when any planner you can buy already has that? I get your apprehension. There are days when I’m not sure I can be bothered, and it’s on those days that I look to more basic spreads. I’m not artistically creative. If you told me right now to draw a hedgehog, I’d need a reference picture and it still wouldn’t be pretty. I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful bullet journals on Pinterest (my board right here is full of them!), and I assure you mine looks nothing like that.

Our days are busy, sometimes chaotic, and time is precious. I understand not wanting to waste a lot of time on something you can buy with no effort in most shops for little money, and if that’s what you want to do, go for it! But I hope I can show you today that your Bullet Journal doesn’t need to take a lot of time and still look pretty(ish).

These are my basics:

The Key

Your key is usually found at the front (if you want to make it harder on yourself and stick it on page 97, go for it – as I said, you can do anything you want in this thing), and it’s a short, easy summary of how you’ll use your bullet journal.

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 3.jpg

The basics are your code – the signage you use for completed tasks, started-but-unfinished tasks, priorities, and so on. You can include anything you like in this, such as appointments, important meetings, or research you want to do; your bullet journal is flexible!

I recommend just sticking to the basics if you’re starting your first journal, and leave a bit of room in your key to add to it as you go. Your preferences will likely change as you go, and you can adjust, add, and cut as you need to.

My own preferences have changed quite a bit in my current bullet journal (BuJo #2), so I’ve included an updated version of the key partway through it. I’ve also marked the page with washi tape so I can find it again easily should I need to.

Yearly Spread

Don’t you just love it when a new year starts, and you have all the options? What will you do that year? Which goals will you set? What are your priorities going to be?

I love planning, friends, and your yearly spread is a good place to do that on a large scale.

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 4.jpg

For 2017, I did something a little more ‘extravagant’ than I usually do. (writing out all those numbers took time, you know!) I have plenty of space for monthly goals and appointments, which I love. What I don’t have is a page dedicated to my goals this year, so when the time comes to create next year’s spread, I’ll include space for that. I do have two double spreads with goals (colour-coded and categorised, naturally) and ideas on how to achieve them, but really I just want a list where I can tick of goals as I hit them.

So, 2018’s calendar is going to be more basic with a year-long list of goals.

Monthly Spread

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 5

I tried so many different designs for this before I found one that works for me. My monthly calendar is on one side, and my to-do list for each month is on the other. That way I can pencil in important meetings and release dates and things like that, and have everything I want to achieve on the same spread. I’ve experimented with various levels of intricacy and detail, but in the end this minimalistic spread works best. It saves me time, and it has everything I need at one glance.

Weekly Spread

I’ve tried even more layouts here – my bullet journal is a mess of failed spreads, and that’s mostly the weekly spread’s fault. I’ve tried everything from having all the info on one, crammed page (which didn’t leave me anywhere near enough space) to having a double spread, to using four full pages for my weekly goals. Minimalism won again.

 

While layouts with individually drawn boxes and leafs and clouds and little kittens look great, I don’t have the time to draw all that (and, as we’ve already established, I don’t have the skills, either). A bit of washi tape (which I’m addicted to, by the way) and a basic layout is all I need.

My Bookshelf

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 8.jpg

This was one of the first things I added. My first list was just that, a list, but my second attempt is a little prettier. Every book I buy (books I don’t own yet don’t make it onto this spread) goes on here, and every book I’ve read I colour in.

My tbr is a mess and I’m sure you’re quite aware yourself that it can feel overwhelming, but thanks to this spread I have a good idea of how many books I actually have. Outside the bullet journal, my tbr exists in two places: my actual shelf, and my kindle where the books are in no useful order whatsoever. If it wasn’t for this spread I’d have no idea how many unread books I currently own.

Blog Posts & Guest Posts

This is becoming even more relevant to me now that I’ve started building my freelance writing business. Previously, I’ve used my bullet journal to plan future blog post ideas, make a note of whether I’d written the first draft, whether they were ready and scheduled, which day they’d publish, and so forth. But now I’m also using it to keep track of all my freelance writing jobs and opportunities (like this one!) by writing down who the post is for, what my word count limit is, and when my deadline is.

This way I can see at one glance what I’m doing for whom and when they want it by. Yay for organisation!

Here are some more ideas of what you can do:

Habit tracker

Dream journal

List of films you want to watch

Places you want to visit

Savings tracker

A list of home improvements

Birthdays

Passwords

Gift ideas for your loved ones

Blog post planner

Social Media Exposure Tracker

Content Calendar

Full disclosure: I actually use some of these myself but they’re not in any state to be shown off anywhere! As I said, I’m artistically challenged.

There are so many things you can try and adjust that my main advice is to start small, with the basics, and add to it as you learn what you need from your bullet journal. If you want to be creative and intricate, go ahead, and if you want to keep it simple, like I do, go ahead with that, too. You can try a bit of both, if you like! That’s the beauty of your bullet journal – it’s yours, in every way.

And if you realise fifty pages in that you no longer want to use a specific spread, or try a different layout, good news: you can!

Happy journaling and organising, people!


Author Picture.jpgSarina is the author of the Relics of Ar’Zac trilogy. The first book in the series, Rise of the Sparrows, was released in late May 2016. She’s currently working on the sequel and a new fantasy duology.

She’s obsessed with books and all things stationery, has a proud collection of over twenty notebooks, and squees every time she buys a new notebook, pens (hmmm, fountain pens ❤ ) or highlighters.

In her free time she reads fantasy and sci-fi novels, plays video games, and researches human sacrifice traditions and the end of the universe.

Where to find Sarina & her books:

Website & Blog

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

Newsletter


For use of content in this post, permission must be sought from the author, Sarina Langer.

Word Count Weekly

Word Count Weekly #4

It has been a strange week. I’ve scraped by on my word counts for the first part of the week, fell five words short on Thursday, wrote with a rocket up my backside on Friday, and then dropped back down to the bare minimum again over the weekend.

  • Monday- 427 words
  • Tuesday- 417 words
  • Wednesday- 438 words
  • Thursday- 395 words
  • Friday- 1610 words
  • Saturday- 442 words
  • Sunday- 471 words

My little one is back to school tomorrow, so I expect to see a dramatic increase in my word counts. Only time will tell if I manage to do more than procrastinate next week.

Excerpt from this weeks writing:

I hold out my hand, stopping the darts mid-flight. He hesitates for a moment, staring at the fallen darts littering the grass. He’s hunting EVO, but I doubt he’s seen one of us use our abilities. I doubt he knows much about any of us. I guess it’s easier for them not to know. He’s just following his orders like a trained dog; not asking questions, not understanding the truth.


All excerpts are the works of K.J.Chapman

Writing and Me

To Plan or Not to Plan Your Narrative

What's your story

I don’t plan! There I said it. It doesn’t mean that I’m a lazy writer. It simply means that I don’t plan. If you do, then that’s fine too. Writing is creativity, and we all get creative in our own ways.

Creativity definition: The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.

The keys words there are imagination, original, and inventiveness. Creativity is unique to the individual. Whether you plan and outline, or write by the seat of your pants, it is insignificant as far as your creativity and writing ability is concerned.

I plan and organise every part of my life, except my writing. I lose creativity if I plan, and I lose realism in my story and characters. I keep a notebook on me for name ideas, character descriptions, and so on, but I don’t meticulously plan my narrative. I enjoy the ride, the surprise, and the end result.

Reasons not to plan:

  • You may try to make your characters fit your outline and not the other way around. This can lead to unbelievable characters, dialogue, and unrealistic narratives.
  • Lose creativity during the writing process. Creative writing uses the left side of your brain, whilst planning uses the right, logical side. Non- planners can leave the logic for editing, and use a spontaneous approach in their writing.
  • No constraints; there isn’t a nagging voice telling you what you should and shouldn’t be writing.
  • Plot twists, and escalating tension flow naturally , and in turn, are more believable and true to the narrative.

Reasons to plan:

  • You know where the narrative needs to go. No time will be wasted trying to get back on track if you go down a wrong tangent.
  • You know what to write. No writer’s block.
  • Can determine, and correct plot holes before you start writing.
  • Saves editing time. Planning may omit issues that non-planners spend hours editing e.g character arc flaws and continuity issues.

It doesn’t matter how you write. It just matters that you do write. I shall end with a quote by Ray Bradbury:

‘You fail only if you stop writing.’

100% K.J Chapman, Writing and Me

Organising My Mind

birds nest hair blog

I’m a fairly organised person, but I have to admit that it takes a lot of work on my part to be so. When I feel out of control, I get stressed, and I do not handle stress well. Some people thrive on stress, produce their best work under pressure, but that is far from true for me.

When my mind is a whirl with day to day tasks, up and coming birthdays, story ideas, and what to cook for tea, I write lists; lots and lots of lists in my many, many notebooks.

I have an obsession with buying pretty notebooks. They are my sanity. Writing, for me, is therapeutic. Whether it is jotting down a story idea, or writing a shopping list, I get to empty my mind onto paper, and it’s my way to control things.

My lists extend to my calendar, or should I say, Family Organiser? It is not your ordinary, run of the mill, calendar. It is extremely large, has sections for each family member, and it is my lifeline. The rule in my house is, ‘If it’s not on the calendar it’s not happening’.

I’m finicky about my calendars, and my other half buys me one for Christmas every year. I say buys me one… he gives me the money, I pick my own, and he wraps it. Yep, I can’t be doing with any old basic calendar. Oh lord, I sound like a crazy woman.

Planning is the only aspect of my life that I get OCD about. My house can be a tip, my daughter can be running around in a princess costume and wellie boots, but as long as my day to day life and writing time is organised, I’m a cool cucumber.

100% K.J Chapman

A Writer and A Wedding

wedding

This past week, I have been buzzing and haven’t been able to share the reason why. I’m getting married… in seventeen weeks.

I have been with my childhood sweetheart, Mr O, for fourteen years, and last Sunday we decided to get married. I’m sure we love to test ourselves as we decided on December of this year. Hence, why this week has been a whirl of bookings, detailing, and panicking. We had to ensure everything was in place before we told our family and friends.

We are planning on an intimate ceremony at our local registry office, bypassing the formal reception, and heading straight into an evening reception/ party. Low key is the name of the game. I’m not an extravagant person, and budgeting is my forte. So, I will not let this wedding get the better of me. Stay tuned for more on my wedding hacks… as and when I discover them.

On a more serious note, wedding planning has put another spanner in my writing works. I’m already struggling to keep to a writing schedule and balance family life during the holidays, and now, I’m adding a wedding to the mix. A wedding I have only 17 weeks to organise- why do I do these things to myself?

I will keep telling myself that I am Super Woman. I am Super Woman. I am Super Woman.

100% K.J Chapman, Writing and Me

Summer Holidays Writing Hell

This summer has been absolute hell as far as my writing goes. Since my daughter has been off school, I haven’t laid down more than 3000 words, and most of them are a load of rubbish. I get a little panicky when I think about how far behind I find myself.

So far, the summer holidays have been great. We’ve had trips to our local theme park, visited family, park trips, and nature walks/ rides through the National Trust estate I mentioned in my previous post: The Beauty of Home. We also have a LOT more planned.

BUT…

This has resulted in my writing falling seriously behind. I should ensure I write in the evenings once my daughter is in bed, but I’m either exhausted, or my other half has a night off work and I want to spend time with him. I won’t forfeit time with my family, and even more so since my other half has precious holiday time from work, but I also don’t want to forfeit my writing time. This is my summer holiday writing hell!

There are still four weeks left of the summer holidays, and I need to take action:

  1. Draw up a writing schedule.
  2. Stick to the schedule.
  3. STICK TO THE SCHEDULE!

I’m not greedy, I don’t need to be rocking out tens of thousands of words, just more than I have been, and I think a schedule is the way forward. Once I have designed a suitable schedule, I’ll shall create a blog post to let you know how I get on with it.

Do you have your own writing hell experiences? How did you deal with it? I’m interested in all solutions… Seriously, TELL ME!


(Images are the property of K.J. Chapman)