Doing it backwards

plot arc backwards (1)

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to yoke your Character arc to the external plot. When I’m planning, I have a series of questions I ask myself when I’m making sure that I have the right character for the shiny plot idea I figured out, but when I’m making sure that the arc hangs together and makes sense, I run the progression backwards to make sure everything is connected.


The #onebookjuly Challenge!

I had mentioned in my previous post that I was a bit of a journal junkie. And I thought I had made my peace with that. I thought I had a system. I had my bullet journal, my morning pages journal, and my commonplace book. You know all this; I just wrote a post about it.

But a minute after I made that post, I hit upon this hashtag: #onebookjuly. And I thought, Oh? What’s that?

Well. The idea is that you start the month of July with the basics:

One Book. One Pen. See where it takes you.

And I read that, and thought to myself, Oh hecking darn. Because that’s what I originally wanted, was one book to rule them all hold everything – my planner details, my journal, my commonplace quotes. And here was this challenge, daring me, double-dog daring me to do it. Could I resist this challenge? No way! I would do it! One book, all of July! Let’s see if I really do need a multiple book system! So I agonized over which book would be my One Book. It took a while, but I ultimately decided to use my Scribbles That Matter A5 notebook:

I made the choice because it’s the best journal of the bunch – all the thoughtful details of a Leuchtturm 1917, plus a few more on top of that, with the GSM 100 paper of a Rhodia webnotebook. If any journal in my collection was up to the challenge of being my everything book, my STM was it.

But I had another problem, and I lay the blame squarely on Goulet Pens having Inkapalooza and putting their ink samples on wicked sale! I bought a double handful and they are making their way to me now, and I had planned on sampling them by writing my commonplace quotes and morning pages in different ink, while holding on to the all-black minimalism of my bullet journal.

But now I’m set to go one book, but I have all this ink…

So I decided to compromise by flipping my usual habits. Instead of multiple books, I would use one. And instead of one pen, I would use many. And to celebrate that, I created bullet journal spreads! I spent a ridiculous amount of time on these.

First, I made a 6 month log, and wrote down all my deadlines and scheduled my major projects:

6 mo log

I decided to make everything pop a little bit by making my saturdays and sundays red. Anything with a gray highlighter is a serious deadline/commencement date. I have timed everything carefully, so I can work on project A, come to a natural stopping point, and then work on project B.

Then I decided to do something a little different for my monthly 2 page spread:

july 2017 spread

Goals is new. Right justifying the dates was just to shake things up.

And now something I’m not sure I’ll keep: a weekly spread (this one has 8 days, just because Singleton Saturday makes me sad.)

my 8 day week

I saw that manner of separating the page with the cursive and the “steady hand” underline and I loved it so much, I wished I used weeklies. So I thought I could try it, and see if it works for me.

So that’s my journal challenge for July! Are you trying anything new with your journal this month?

Daily Logging – a 30 Day BulletJournal Experiment

Maybe you’re one of those people, who… even though we have moved beyond pen and paper for our everyday communications, there are some of us who linger over the notebook section in the bookstore (is it me, or is that section getting bigger and bigger?) and pick one to take home, start writing in it, and then…stop. And then another store. And then another notebook. And this time, it’ll be different.

It’s okay. You can tell me. I’m staring at my notebook collection, propped between the edge of my monitor and my SAD lamp, and there are five notebooks there: A Rhodia Web Notebook in black (lined,) a cheery yellow Scribbles that Matter A5, and three A5-sized Leuchtturm 1917’s: One black, one gray, and one in silver. (the silver one is still in the wrap, though. Does that count?)

I might have a problem.

journal collection

Last month I vowed I would do something about my notebook problem. I, like many notebook addicts, discovered by one means or another the Bulletjournal system made popular by Ryder Carrol, and thought, “This is it. This is what I’ve been looking for all along.”

So I ran out and bought the first Leuchtturm 1917 (the black one.) And I began it with all the best intentions. But I found that I made choices I wasn’t happy with later, so along came the new Leuchtturm, this time in gray, where I made a few commitments – 95% black ink, minimalist, simple. I began on Jan 01, promptly messed up my future log, spent time drawing a monthly spread and a weekly spread I NEVER used, and then dwindled off using it on Jan 12.

I tried again, and again, but it wasn’t working for me. And then I realized: I don’t need a planner. I need a log. My urge is to relate what I did, not anticipate what I would do. I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I probably have ADD and no one noticed when I was young. I have to have multiple reminders of appointments set to go off automatically at various intervals, or I will forget that I had a thing I needed to do. I am not a planner. I’m a recorder.

So, why not record what I did, to build a journaling habit?

That was it. I was onto something. I needed a quick logging system where I could track what I did each day, and even sneak in “oh yeah, you have to do this today” on the page to start building up planning habits. I wanted a format that was minimalist, intuitive, and attractive.

So I went with a time ladder. This is what it looks like, filled out:

time ladder may 27-28 2017

I actually started in May, but decided to take an entire month to try it out. I had a debate over the layout – should I write each day as it comes, with journal entries between, or do a solid block of daily ladders for the week, and then journal on the pages afterwards?

My tentative conclusion: a week’s worth of dailies all at once and journal entries after is the way to go for me. It organizes nicely in the index, though I now wish I had three ribbons so I could mark my monthly log, the current day, and the first open spot for journaling.

Update: SOLUTION! I used one of my index dots to mark the monthly spread, and then I can ribbon the other two!

I like it. I like using the full page to log my whole day. I like my black ink and block capital lettering. I like the journal entries in between, recording my thinking process about my book, which still doesn’t have a title. I might try to include a task list or something, once I’m solidly in the habit of logging my days.

Coming up in future entries: Meet my Commonplace Book and my Morning Pages.

My Knitting Attention Span is Terrible

Up there is the beginnings of a very simple shawl – once you get past the fiddly cast on, it’s the definition of mindless. Stockinette in the round, with very occasional increase rounds, to make a huge circle out of any yarn you want.

I chose a cashmere laceweight yarn for mine, but you can use whatever you like if you want to join me in the glorious mindless knitting.


Using Emily Ocker’s beginning or Magic Circle, cast on 9 sts. Distribute on 3 DPNs.

Knit 1 round.

Increase row 1: k, yo to end of round. 18 sts. Knit 3 rounds.

Increase row 2: k, yo to end of round. 36 sts. Knit 6 rounds.

Increase row 3: k, yo to end of round. 72 sts. Knit 12 rounds.

Increase row 4: k, yo to end of round. 144 sts. Knit 24 rounds.

Increase row 5: k, yo to end of round. 288 sts. Knit 48 rounds.

Increase row 6: k, yo to end of round. 576 sts. Knit 96 rounds.

If you’re working something huge:

Increase row 7: k, yo to end of round. 1152 sts. Knit up to 192 rounds.


When you have about 20-30% of your yarn left, or if knitting one more round in stockinette makes you want to scream, it’s time to think about your border.

You can finish with seed stitch, garter in the round, a lace border like old shale, a knitted on lace border (and if you do that, you can ignore the bind-off), or an I-cord bind off.


You can stop where you would do an increase round, or when your circle is big enough. Have enough yarn for 4 more rounds of knitting when you stop, because it’s a doozy:

Penultimate round: k1, kfb.

Final round: bind off. The increases will keep the edge from puckering.

I’m Attending a Conference!

I am attending When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta, from August 11-13, 2017!

I’ll be seeing panels and doing barcon as an attendee. I’m looking forward to attending Taxes For Creative Folk, The Book of Sensations, and Worldbuilding the Lazy Bastard Way.

I won’t have any swag, but I will have business cards, and they’re useful as bookmarks.

Nine Things I Try to Do When I Feel Creatively Drained

  1. I declare a vacation. Usually about a week long. I don’t look at any of my work during that week.
  2. I get out my paper journal and pen and I write in it every day. I just brain-dump, all my complaints and worries and selfish egotistical thoughts. I’m writing to purge myself of the crap that has built up.
  3. And then I read. I read every day. I read in my genre for one story, and then outside of my genre for one story. I’ve been catching up on “great” modern novels this year, but I’ve also been reading historical fiction, mystery, romance, and YA. I catch book recommendations from Stephen King, who hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
  4. I write about what I’ve read. Just free-form stuff about what I like, don’t like, what it sparks in me. It’s all private so I can write whatever I really think; no one is going to look at it anyway
  5. I go out of my way to enjoy art. A gallery or museum visit, getting lost in the met’s website, I listen to genres of music I don’t usually listen to every day but still enjoy. I look for award winning or classic film, but if what I want to watch is Captain America, well then okay.
  6. I read nonfiction. I should read more nonfiction, but honestly I have to be interested or need it for future projects. I read biographies rarely, but I will read about a period of history or something on a subject that fascinates me.
  7. I listen to podcasts. There are literally thousands of them. google “podcast (subject) and you’re likely to find something.
  8. If I get an idea while i’m refilling, i will scribble it down in a bunny folder, but I won’t immediately leap on it to make a story. I need seven ideas for a story, so acting too quickly won’t help…
  9. …But if I get mugged by an idea, then I follow it. getting an idea is one thing. you can scribble it down and forget about it. but sometimes a story comes in and it’s like…I don’t know. an entity. it’s got a setting I can see and characters who were born like Athena and things are happening that I need to write down. There’s no room in my brain for anything else, and I’m compelled to record what I see.