I don’t know about you but when I was a child the summers were magnificent. Long hot days spent out in the yard, playing in our sand box and on the swing set my daddy built. He also built our sandbox which had a second floor with a tire ladder to climb up. There was also a circular arrangement of logs he stood up on end and held together with a chain that made a spiral staircase. He painted the tops of them different colors. We’d play “Cops n Robbers,” chasing each other through the tall grass, June bugs slapping against our shirts. We drove our Hotwheels in the sandbox, wetting the sand with the garden hose so we could build things out of the wet sand. We chased butterflies, followed ants, captured caterpillars and begged mom for a Styrofoam cup or a jar to put them in. We rode our Big Wheels, our bikes, and our scooters. The sun set late. If we were playing down the street, we’d come home when the street lights came on. This later time of the day was the perfect time to find what we called hoppy-toads. If you’ve never gone hoppy-toad huntin’ in the waning of a summer day, then I implore you to take up your bucket and give it a try. Enjoy this ode to the hoppy-toads that lived in our yard and brought me great joy as a child.
Hoppy-toads grow fat
tucked behind cool gray
stones and fragments of brick.
A yellow bucket nestles
I take up my bucket
The white plastic handle
Digging into my arm.
I set out.
I lift each rock carefully
Disturbing the grass
Unveiling worm and cricket.
I search for them
In the cool, dark places.
The edge of the driveway
No stone unturned
But to no avail.
I set my eyes on the
Row of bricks beside our house.
Finally, a fat one leaps
But I am fast.
I scoop him up and
Plop! He squats into
The corner of my bucket.
Hoppy-toads like friends,
I think, and search for him
A mate. A companion.
The third brick hides her.
Plop! Into the bucket she goes.
Ever feel as a writer that your vocabulary has become a bit….well, stagnant?
This is an exercise that I do ever so often to hit the refresh button on my vocabulary bank.
It is simply called : Word Search.
So, get out that pen with the fuzzy unicorn or the jingle bells on it or open a sticky on your screen and get ready to type…we are going on a word hunt.
This time I want you to go down a wormhole on the internet. Or in an old book of poetry. Or, *gasp* the newspaper.
Look through poems and prose of other writers
but do not READ them…
Look through anything that interests you (STOP LOOKING AT THE PICTURES AND HEY…HEY…CLOSE YOUTUBE!) Ok, look. Look for words that reach out to you. Focus now, you are on a word hunt!
Make a list of interesting and new words, any words that may have a new sound, new meaning, new richness.
Look for words that inspire you. Collect these words into a list and shovel them around into twos or threes.
Look for words that don’t seem to belong together or that present juxtaposition or friction. Also look for words that seem to be working together to go in a direction you can follow.
Perhaps divide them into nouns, verbs and descriptive words that you can go to when you are struggling for a word. (And never, ever write without a Thesaurus…but that’s another day, another blogpost.)
Keep this list for times when you struggle to find something new to write.
breastless teacups sunken
If you’ve noted that these aren’t super-fancy words, be reminded that while schistosomiasis may be one of my favorite words, I rarely get to use it in my writing. It’s the smaller words we tend to build with and they must not bore us. I also keep lists of words that I have never seen before. See a word for the first time? Snatch it up!! Look it up!! Taste it. Use it.
Feeling inspired to find your own words? Your own breadcrumbs to the next sentence to be written?
Happy word hunting!!
Coffee/tea? CHECK. Motivation? CHECK, well, mostly check.
Blinking cursor? CHECK
Now what. That blinking cursor is doing its thing, so why aren’t my fingers moving? Come on brain! Fingers! Type something…anything?
WHERE ARE MY WORDS???
It has happened to the best of us. We follow our routine, settle in for a good few hours of writing
and…nothing. I won’t say those awful words. The term used to describe this condition, but you know them.
Disgruntled. Dismayed. BAFFLED. This has never happened before. What do I do? Am I a good writer or not? I am a FAKE. Or maybe you are more seasoned in dealing with these episodes and you know that all you need is a little inspiration. You turn to Google. Old friend, old pal. And go right down a wormhole of inspiration until it is 4 hours later, your left butt cheek has developed a cramp, and the cat is drinking your coffee.
Remember those college assignments? You know, the weird writing ones…write about a giraffe, a unicycle, and a teddy bear…um, ok? Well, your writing didn’t necessarily go in the direction you thought it would, but your limits were pushed, your pen challenged. Your mind a purple explosion, but alas, words.
Writing prompts can be the key to getting you off the giraffe unicycle, out of the laughing baby and viral videos, and into the right frame of mind to START TYPING. Writing, at least for me, is a bit of a physics lesson. Take Newton’s first law, the law of inertia, for example…bear with me, I have a point here….which states basically that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and subsequently that an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.
If your writing is at rest, let writing prompts be your outside force. There is no shame in this. We all need mental stimulation sometimes to get the creative juices flowing.
Now, I promised you a freebie…see the link below as my personal thank you to YOU, my reader (is a writer without a reader still a writer? Hm. Prompt #1.) and enjoy the writing prompts that I have compiled for you.
Shameless plug: the FOLLOW button is GREEN.
Happy writing y’all!
I decided to start a bullet Journal after seeing it come up in conversation on a penpal group that I frequent on Facebook. Well, if there is a buzz about anything in a crafty department, then I MUST INVESTIGATE. I have been thoroughly obsessed with looking through Pinterest, Instagram, all sorts of Google searches so that I can see what the buzz is all about and I am HOOKED. What an insanely great idea!
After exploring this unique form of self-expression, I have come to a few conclusions regarding how this journey is helping MY MIND. It appeals to all of those little OCD corners of my brain that shout when something isn’t quite right and urges me to make a list, clean a room, organize a bookshelf or stay up all night jotting down ideas. It allows me to reign in my SQUIRRELY BRAIN and put it into little neat boxes that helps me feel grounded. I look forward to being able to compare my sleep patterns to the patterns of my headaches, compare my exercise patterns to see if on those days I notate better sleep or happier mood… organizing my pen pals, and notating some of the harebrained ideas that bounced around in my head. You never know when those ideas may come to fruition!!
First, let me detail the parts of a personality that bullet journaling would appeal to and a few benefits of starting your own Bullet Journal…so that you can decide whether or not this could be THE THING for you. I will make a few suggestions for pages as well. Feel free to comment pics of your favorite pages if you are a fellow Bujo-er.
* Bullet journaling is super ORGANIZE-Y. Seriously who doesn’t need a little bit of help keeping their schedule organized? Yes, I do keep a calendar in my cell phone, and I am not knocking our super-techy norm, but one day this week my phone wouldn’t charge and there was a brief moment of absolute panic. It helps to have a calendar in my cell phone but there’s something very special about writing an activity down that makes it real for me. I am often saying to someone that if I don’t write it down, it does not EXIST in my world.
* Bullet journaling appeals to your inner list-maker. Is there anything more satisfying really than to check off a box on your to-do list? The feeling of accomplishment when you can scratch off an item from your to-do list will continuously feed your self-esteem, while the list-making itself will help you organize those racing or disorganized thoughts. If you are a list-maker like me, then get your pen (or in my case multiple pens, containers of markers, metallic, gels, etc.) ready! Because the bullet Journal is yours… designed by you and for you. Your list can be whatever font, length, or topic you choose. And it won’t get lost in the car, buried in the bottom of your purse, or misplaced in your stack of mail as easily perhaps as your phone. And let’s face it, your phone already has UMPTEEN tasks going on and doesn’t give you that nostalgic, smell-the-paper experience.
* Bullet journaling helps you take a look at your life and set goals. Your bullet journal combines several things in one place to help you compartmentalize, and look over your life stats according to YOU…not according to likes, comments, and the often unkind online community. It is an organizer, a tracker for anything that you would like to keep track of, a creative outlet, a reference tool for all sorts of important information that you want to keep track of, a dream journal, A Prayer Journal, a mental health tool, a scrapbook, a memory keeper… the list goes on. It a place to organize both your life and your thoughts into one awesome place where you can go to get your head together. It is helps you to achieve your goals and focus on your strengths. It is an excellent resource to use for self- improvement in any area of your life.
* Bullet journaling is, quite frankly, the cheapest hobby I have ever adopted. All you need is a blank journaling notebook of your choice and your favorite pen and you are all set! I would suggest a few other things… but I will get to that in a moment.
* Bullet journaling allows you to be your own best cheerleader. Encourage Yourself, be good to yourself, collect favorite scriptures and quotes all in one place. Does the color yellow make you happy? Do yellow! Whatever inspires you, fills you, and makes you do YOU more fully…embrace it in the pages of your Bujo.
* Bullet journaling is perfect for the obsessive mind. If you are a worrier or over-thinker this is the perfect hobby for you. It helps you to simplify things that you are mulling over and over into something that looks organized, neat, and efficient. I have often told my children that worrying is a symptom of mental boredom, and that getting creative is the perfect way to relieve that boredom. Worry is merely creativity gone wrong. Capture that mental energy in the pages of your Bujo and organize those wandering thoughts into charts, or doodles, or plans.
* Bullet journaling is easy and can be personalized to your taste. It can be as simple and minimalistic as you want it to be, or it can get crafty, go all out and be covered in washi tape, polka dots and accordion style pull outs! (Warning here…looking up bullet journal page ideas on Pinterest is a WORMHOLE).
* Bullet journaling allows you to work on your handwriting,possib ly learn some new fontsor doodles, or maybe learn to do calligraphy. It gives you an excuse to use those fun colored pens that you’ve been storing up in your desk drawer. (Another warning here, new pens can become an addiction!).
* Bullet journaling DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT. And neither do you! This is YOUR LIFE IN PROGRESS so make your journal any way you want.
* It is created BY YOU… FOR YOU!!! THERE ARE NO RULES!!!
Does any of this appeal to you? Well it certainly does to me. It appeals to all of those little OCD corners of my brain that shout when something isn’t quite right and urges me to make a list, clean a room, organize a bookshelf or stay up all night jotting down ideas. It allows me to reign in my SQUIRRELY BRAIN and put it into little neat boxes that helps me feel grounded. I look forward to being able to compare my sleep patterns to the patterns of my headaches, compare my exercise patterns to see if on those days I notate better sleep or happier mood… organizing my pen pals, and notating some of the harebrained ideas that bounced around in my head. You never know when those ideas may come to fruition!!
So with that as a brief introduction to Bullet journaling, here are a few notes about how you can get started with your Bullet Journal.
° Step 1: Get a notebook. You can use a plain journal with no lines on the pages, a gridded journal with a dot grid (which seems to be popular in the bullet journaling Community), or a plain old spiral notebook that’s been sitting in the back of your desk for three years. It doesn’t matter what Journal you choose to use as long as it’s one that you like! I, personally, will not be carrying my bullet journal with me as I will continue to put my appointments into my cell phone calendar, for later relaying into my bullet Journal. But if you choose to carry it with you, as a lot of people do, keep in mind the size of your bullet journal and the weight so that it will fit in your purse or your pocket or your computer bag/book bag. (My first Bujo was a vintage Journal given to me many many years ago by my mother and it is covered in a floral fabric.)
° Step 2: Writing supplies! Collect your favorite pens in the house and get them all into one place. I have all of mine in one of those $1 baskets from the Dollar Store with a couple of organized sections in it. I have them sorted by regular pens, gel, metallic markers, highlighters and markers and fountain pens. Some markers, colored pencils or fountain pens may bleed through your Bujo pages so you may want to use a test page in the back of your Bullet Journal. Use this space to write with each utensil before you use it to make sure that it does not bleed through the paper too much and it looks satisfying to you on the paper. I keep my pens together because if you set up a color guide on any of your pages, you will want to make sure you stay consistent with the colors of pens that you are using throughout that “spread”. Some people create an elaborate color scheme and then later minimalize it to use less colors. The good thing is if you don’t like the way you’re doing something, YOU CAN CHANGE IT!! If you absolutely lose your mind over mistakes then you may want to have a pencil and eraser to map out your pages before you put them in ink. Also if you are a Washi tape junkie… this is the thing for you!! Other supplies include a small ruler for making straight lines, clear tape if you need it for attaching little inspirational card, etc. I would suggest some stencil sheets. I have some left over from scrapbooking days and I use them on nearly every page.
° Step 3: Create an index in the front of your Journal. You will want to notate every entry that you make into your book and what page those entries are on so that they can be found quickly. ( If your Journal does not have numbered Pages, then you will want to number them.)
° Step 4 Create a key. There is a way to use the standard original symbols that are recommended for bullet journaling, however I just made up my own. Put a key in the front of your book so that you can reference it and pretty soon you will remember all of your symbols and colors and dots and you’ll know what it means. This gives you a way to prioritize your notes, find things quicker, and relocate to-do items to other days if you need to carry them over.
° Step 5: Create a year at a glance page if you choose. I did not do this. If you think it would be helpful you may do that in the beginning of your book. You will want to create month at a glance pages, and I would just do the month you are entering… don’t skip ahead and do a bunch of months at one time. That way you have the option to change your format if you like. Make sure to leave space for notes and to-do lists. I did not do a year at a glance but I just went straight into some collection pages and then my month at a glance page and weeks at a glance pages. These are the pages you will use to stay organized in all of your activities and keep up with your to-do list for each day, possibly your dinner menu list, and shopping list for each month and week. There are many, many ways for you to set up your calendar. I did Google searches and look through Pinterest and Instagram and found lots of ideas on how to do this. If you are not a super busy person and don’t have many appointments, you can do a monthly spread and then just have fun with customized pages. Mine is a lot less appointment oriented and a lot more personal growth oriented.
° Step 6 Get creative with your pages. Are you a shopping fanatic but can’t remember what you buy and where you buy it? Make a shopping page! Are you a pen pal-er and want to keep up with your pen pals? Make a pen pal tracker! Make a page to track your exercise program or smoking cessation program. Make a page to brainstorm ideas for birthday presents for your spouse. Make a sleep tracker page to track how much sleep you are getting and how well you slept. Create a mood tracker system with cute little doodled emojis! The possibilities are endless.my favorite spreads are my books to read spread, gratitude Journal, prayer list, and helpful scriptures for areas I am trying to improve in my life. This is called a collection. It is a certain topic that you make a page on that you are collecting information about or listing about Etc.
Make a Brain Dump page!! This is exactly what it sounds like. On those days you have too much running around in your mind, dump it out on your Brain Dump page. The good thing is you can make as many of those pages as you would like!
Get creative and Bujo your life.
I hope you’ve learned something new or found some inspiration. If you love Bujo, share what you love about it and how it helps you stay sane. Share pics of your favorite pages or ideas. Thanks for stopping by!!