Every one of us is filled with fantasy and creativity, we often just don’t give us enough credit that every fantasy is worth to be thought of. Maybe you dream a lot or have mesmerizing ideas during your shower. Or maybe you just felt inspired after watching a tv show. But with all the thoughts and ideas come chaos and a lack of orientation that can demotivate and take away your creativity.
I want to provide a guide on how to categorize your thoughts in order to put them into a whole complex you can work with. Maybe you have already started writing a story, maybe you want to write a story or maybe you just want to know how to organize your brain.
How to start and what you need
Back when I was a little child, I used to write everything down. I had a diary for what happened to me during the days and a diary for my dreams. I even had a notebook for the glorious novel ideas I had because of reading Twilight. But then I stopped doing that. I stopped using diaries and day planners and just pretended to be productive when in case I really wasn’t because I didn’t keep track of the things I was doing.
That’s why I want to start talking about planners and notebooks.
There are a lot of different planners and I personally believe it takes quite some time to figure out which planner works best for you. For organizing my life and my stories, I use a Bullet Journal and the Notes’ App on my phone and laptop (as they are connected with each other – if your phone and computer aren’t connected I suggest using other Notes’ programs that work via cloud/drive like Google based organizing programs: Google Docs, Calendar, etc.).
What is Bullet Journal?
It’s an empty notebook you make to your planner, journal and diary. What makes the Bullet Journal so special is that the market is saturated with every planner you could dream up, but somehow not one – no matter how fancy – perfectly serves your needs.
Usually, you set up a Bullet Journal like another planner: You start with an index (that’s how you can find things easily as every page has a number) and continue with a future log/a monthly calendar for the year.
You can also add your goals for the year onto the next page, multiple things you want to keep track of during the year or a reflection page – but this is all additional and what makes the Bullet Journal to such an amazing planner: Next to all things related to organization (calendars for the year, month and days, to-do-lists, etc.), it is also a planner for everything else. Means: If you want to keep track of all the ideas of new worlds you have during your day, you can just pack out your simple Journal, flip to the next page, choose a fitting headline (that you then add to your index in order to find this page whenever you want to) and write down everything you thought of.
There are plenty of other great things you can do with a Bullet Journal, but since this isn’t supposed to be a guide on how to use such a journal I will stop right there. If you are interested in how to use one, I link some good guides right down below:
Here is a link to the Notebook I personally recommend to use as a Bullet Journal:
I wrote everything down but what comes next?
The real organization!
In order to start a story, there are plenty of things you need to think of beforehand: Like who are the main characters, where is it located, how interactive do I want it to be? That’s why I suggest looking through all the things written down (in your notebook, planner, laptop, Bullet Journal; or maybe it’s still in your head? Then just think about it), and start putting those thoughts and ideas into categories.
Here are the categories I like to use when I plan a new story:
Main topics/Questions/Where does my story lead to:
Characters (short characterization with bullets):
Side Characters (family members, friends, etc.):
Love Interest(s): *In case you like to add multiple love interests, I suggest contrasting their features in a spreadsheet. This way you can see where those characters differ from each other and you are able to create different love interests with different features.
If you want to use that spreadsheet for yourself, here are the files:
I have started with my story but have problems continuing it
There can be plenty of reasons why you are struggling to continue a story that can lead to a real nasty writer’s block. What is really important is to find the source of that problem or writer’s block: Do you actually hate the story and that’s why you don’t want to continue it? Do you struggle with one certain scene because it is too romantic and you are super aromantic? Do you feel like writing is too time-consuming and everything is overwhelming? Don’t you have any inspiration left to continue this story or any other story?
I can’t give you an answer to every question.
It is important to never force yourself into writing when you clearly don’t want to because life is too overwhelming at the moment. Take the breaks you need. If you force yourself, you won’t feel motivated soon. Maybe you lose motivation for the story you started with at all. And I highly doubt that’s what you want.
If you struggle with a certain scene, skip it and write a different scene first. This used to help me multiple times when I lost motivation. Turned out I had lots of motivation towards my story but just hated the scene.
If you lack inspiration, a break is even more important. By staring into the portal you probably just get aggressive or depressed (and it hurts your eyes lol). Go for a walk and breathe in the fresh air, look at the houses, the street, the cars, the heaven. Listen to the birds, leaves rustling in the wind, your feet on the ground. Don’t ever stress out yourself. Enjoy the little moments in life because everything can be an inspiration and joy. You can also listen to some music, clean your room or watch some tv shows. Or just close your eyes. Everything can give you some inspiration, you just need to let it.
Another thing that personally helps me is to plan out new chapters. When writing dialogues or a whole chapter gets too overwhelming for me, I take my notebook or my phone with me and change the room/go outside (mostly into the garden). I sit down and think about what I want my chapter to include. I usually do it like this:
Chapter Nr. #
Main Purpose of the Chapter/Focus:
1. Location, short plot, characters in the scene
2. Location, short plot, characters in the scene
3. Location, short plot, characters in the scene
4. Location, short plot, characters in the scene
When you start by stating the main purpose of the chapter (like for example: going on a date, solving a mystery) it helps with planning out the scenes!
Organizing saves time
Organizing gives orientation. A lack of orientation can lead to demotivation. If you know what you do, nothing can stop you. Not only that: It saves time.
With a better organization system, you might even stop procrastinating and be more productive (who knows?). With a system, you can also keep track of plot holes you created but forgot during your time of writing. Recommendation: Keep a list or spreadsheet of your plot holes and in which chapter you want to fill them (in case you even want to fill them). This is how I do it (I have a section for the plot hole name, notes on what I need to include when filling the hole and a section for “filled” (this is where I put the name of the chapter):
Another thing: Always save your outfit games, mini-games, AND every other template (like a pub scene or something like that – spotting the characters is a pain in the *ss, you don’t want to do it all over again just because you haven’t saved the template, do you?).
To sum up, being organized does not only save time but it also saves you from not getting insane. You stay happy and orientated. I personally recommend by heart getting started with using either a digital planner, an analog one or a Bullet Journal – it’s up to you what it will be! And don’t get demotivated at the beginning, it’s a long process of finding the journaling system that works best for you. But don’t forget: With practice comes mastery!