My 2019 Bullet Journal + January Spread

Over the past couple of years, I have begun dabbling in bullet journalling. I’ve always loved stationary and keeping a planner in school. I’ve also always been highly reflective, creativity-inclined, and goal-oriented, so bullet journalling felt like a natural fit for me. I’m also attracted to the fact that it is something I could make and hold in my hands since so much of my time is spent online.

In total, I had created three monthly spreads before this month, for June 2017, September 2018, and October 2018. Each time felt like an experiment. When I was first starting out, I didn’t know what page elements I would want or need during the month. I didn’t know what was practical and or what would work for me.

I’m not going to lie, I did not complete filling out any of these previous spreads, abandoning each project at some point during the month. But each time I started a new one, I got closer to the right layout and elements for me.

In this blog post, I will share my inspiration, my January spread, and my rationale for what I decided to include in my bullet journal this month.

My Method

I was recently watching AmandaRachLee‘s 2018 Journal Flip Through for ideas when I came to an important realization. While I love her artistic style and creativity in spreads, I do not feel motivated to make my bullet journal a planner. I don’t have many important dates to remember each month and prefer to keep an actual paper calendar on my desk for quick reference.

Rather my aim with my bullet journal to track progress on my projects over time, to brainstorm, to keep a log of the things I want to do and actually do. Some people also make their bullet journal their diary, but I personally am keeping that in a separate notebook. I treat my bullet journal more as a physical manifestation of a online blog, highly selective and curated towards what I want to share and remember.

If you’re interested in starting a bullet journal, I highly recommend:

  1. Immersing yourself in the bullet journal communities in the blogosphere, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on YouTube. There are a lot of fun ideas to parse through and only you know what spreads will work best for you.
  2. Practicing first in journals you already have. You don’t need to buy special notebooks or pens when you are just starting out! It will most likely just psyche you out anyway if you have perfectionist tendencies; you will be too anxious not to make mistakes.
  3. Using sticky notes to organize your layout. Some people like to create story board-like rough drafts before they start putting pen officially to paper, but I find sticky notes work just as well. After I list all the page elements I want, I go through my journal and figure out where things will fit most naturally.

I went back and forth with the idea of buying a new notebook for my bullet journal this year. The specific one on my wish list was the Scribbles That Matter A5 dotted notebook. It was only $20, but money was tight over the holidays and I wanted to buy gifts for my loved ones instead. *le sigh*

Also, the more I thought about it, I realized using a regular notebook would work just as well. It would be my gimmick if I started dedicating more of my blog-space and focus to journalling. So I looked through my small collection of notebooks I had collected over the years and decided to use a more recently acquired journal, my Target decomposition notebook. It’s a nice size and makes me happy every time I look at it.

One negative to this notebook is that my pen ink (Pilot G-2, fine, ball-point) bleeds through the pages quite easily. My current solution is to tape pages together so I do not need to worry about the visibility of the ink marks. It feels a little wasteful of page space, but I figure I might find better solution later on this year. I know there’s liquid paper I could paint over the back, and I could also start gluing in loose leaf.

My January 2019 Spread

I decided to make clouds my January theme because it’s been a very rainy winter in Texas this year and because I always feel like I always have my head in the clouds, especially around the new year. Clouds carry a lot of symbolic meaning.

I did not come up with this theme on my own. My spread is heavily inspired by my bujo idol AmandaRachLee‘s April 2018 set-up, from the distinct cloud design to specific page elements like the mood tracker. Where I deviated was primarily in the actual layout. I don’t love drawing out calendars, so my spreads have elements that lend themselves better to list formats and brain dumps.

Directly after the main page, I have a page for my mood and habit trackers. I find it enlightening to be able to see at a glance how happy or unhappy I was during a month, particularly since I generally end the month without remembering everything that went on. I’m still working out how I want to visually depict my mood (e.g. via size of rain drop, length dropped, or color shade of blue-grey).

I used to make my habit trackers a simple table that would take up half a page. I decided to try out this mini-calendar design to better be able to see how consistently I was sticking to the daily habits I wanted to nurture.

Next up is my two-column January event planner. I break it up into personal and blog categories for better spatial organization. Personal plans might be related to work, appointments, or social events. For the blog section, I like to keep track of the blog posts I plan to write. Once they are complete and published, I go over the final titles in ink so I can see at a glance what went up that month.

Next to my plans, I like to be able to see the specific goals I set for the month. The ones shown in the picture below (see page on the right) were ideas I had last week before I hurt my back. I plan to get to them once I’m 100% again!

I also like to keep space for brain dump. Here I record any special ideas I might have regarding writing, blogging, or any number of my projects. It’s not a lot of space, but I do find that it’s enough room key ideas that remind me what I was thinking at the time.

The newest addition to my monthly spread a place for weekly notes and to-do lists. Many people allot space for diary-like notes they want to remember. I personally see myself just writing to-do lists and short life highlights. I folded a page in half to reduce the number of times I would have to draw the side-bar calendar. 

I have still been thinking about how I want to use this space, so I’ve not applied much ink beyond the side-bar calendar. I do think it will be a place to keep track of what I end up doing each day or maybe job positions for which I apply.

 ☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙

I hope you liked this blog post! I have been wanting to start talking about bullet journalling on this blog for a long time. In case anyone’s interested, I think I will try to share a flip through this spread at the end of the month with some more commentary about how well my set-up worked. I’d also like to start doing more focused posts about the set-up of my bullet journals.

I will be back this weekend most likely with a writing update + 2019 writing plans. I have a post on my recent reads that is nearly complete, but I think that I will not be able to finish the last book I want to talk about until after this weekend.

Do you bullet journal? How do create your monthly spreads? Is your set-up organized entirely differently?

 

July Notes ➴

July is the month I feel like I finally became a true blogger.  I’ve never been prouder of the blog posts I’ve made and how successfully I’ve balanced being both a blogger and a blog reader. Additionally, I started up two new weekly series: Novel Progress (in which I share my writing updates + topic discussions) and Weekly Reviews (in which I summarize the week’s blog posts and reading progress).

That being said, I did feel like I was edging towards burn out. Exiting July I came away with ideas for how to make things a little easier on myself, but I’ll save those ideas for my August Goals + TBR ➹ post, which should go up tomorrow!

Revisiting My Goals

This month all my goals had to do with my blog. I’ve started to take my blog more seriously not just as place to share my bookish thought but also a portfolio of my writing and individuality. I have wanted to treat my blog a little bit as a job to see how I like it.

Here are the goals I set for June:

  1. DEDICATE M/W/F TO WRITING BLOG POSTS
  2. DEVELOP A UNIQUE BLOG THEME
  3. CONDENSE MY BOOK REVIEWS

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is decide to dedicate specific days to blogging. I didn’t stick strictly to M/W/F, but for the most part I think I kept the spirit behind this schedule alive. I didn’t want to feel like my blog was taking over my life, so if I felt like I did a lot of blog work one day I didn’t do that again the next day. I’d like to increase my productivity on these blog days so that’s something I’ll be working on next month.

So this month I wanted to create a unique blog theme for Betwined Reads. By that, I meant blog imagery, meaning reusable blog headers, featured images, and blog logo. Basically, I wanted to work on my blog identity, the stuff that people remember when they think about the blog. I feel like I got a good foundation started. I have some color schemes I like a lot and my use of special characters has become something of staple. Also after writing my blogger aesthetics post, I have an idea of the stuff I can focus on in my future designs.

As for my final goal, I feel like I did find a book review style that I like. However, I’m not really sure I condensed them. Instead I feel like I just broke them up a bit more attractively so they’re less intimidating on the surface level. I think I’m satisfied for now, but I will keep an eye out for cool ideas on how to make them both useful to readers and satisfying on a personal level.

June’s Blog Posts

||      BOOK REVIEWS     ||

||      BLOG TAGS     ||

||      NOVEL PROGRESS     ||

||      MISCELLANEOUS     ||

What I Read

In July I only managed to read three books. I’m not someone who reads a lot during the week, and this month I took a lot of time in between reading books to work on other things. I would like to make reading a better part of my day next month. All the books I read this month had me thinking a lot in between reads, so I don’t feel too bad about how seemingly little I read.

  1. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter | ★★★★½
  2. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko | ★★★★
  3. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene | ★★★½

My favorite read was definitely Vassa in the Night, but that was a reread! So I guess I’ll go with Ceremony. I walked away from that book each time thinking about Tayo and his pain. I also felt it was a very spiritual in a way that anyone from any culture could appreciate. My least favorite was probably Summer of My German Soldier, even though it was a perfectly fine read. My biggest critique is that it didn’t resolve everything that goes down in the book in a way I found personally too satisfying.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

Sorry this post is coming late! I was out of town last weekend and didn’t prepare much in advance, as I explain in yesterday’s A Quick Update | August 9th. Tomorrow morning I will publish my August Goals + TBR ➹, where I’ll talk about some of my goals for the month and the books I plan to read.

I feel like this year is winding up pretty quickly and I’m excited to see where I take the blog by the end of the year. Fall is my favorite time of year, so I’m getting really excited for what fun opportunities and reads that life will have in store.

Thank you for reading!
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The Follow Up to Blog Hopping in June

At the end of May, I decided I was in a good place with my book blog and the posts I had been publishing that I felt like it was time to up my game. I realized that if I want to build an amazing blog with a modest following, then it’d be smart to know the lay of the land and become more active in the community. These were my major reasons for deciding to prioritize Blog Hopping in June.

I had a really grand plans for the month. I really thought I was going to be able to quickly and easily integrate blog hopping into my daily routine. What I did not realize was:

  1. How much time is required to read and comment meaningfully on others posts
  2. How many of the blogs I already followed read/reviewed books in genres I don’t like or posted content that I do not find remotely interesting

I didn’t want to unfollow anybody, but I did find that it was hard at first to find any posts I could comment on. A lot of blogs I followed in the past produced a lot of blog tour/blitz posts or ARC reviews for contemporaries or romance (neither of which are my go-to genres), which is to say: posts I most likely won’t click on. I’m not here for that. (Although, I will say, I’ve become a lot more interested in contemporaries over June!)

I eventually realized that a lot of these blogs I must have only followed because I liked something about their aesthetic or blogging style and my “Follow” was utilized more as a “Bookmark” for blogs I, at one time, thought I might want to reference again for reasons long since forgotten.

So the first thing I realized I needed to do was discover new blogs! Here’s how I did it.

*  ⁎  Method ⁂ ⁎ * 

Since it was the end of a May when I started, there were a lot of monthly wrap ups and TBRs in my WordPress Reader and Bloglovin’ feeds. These have traditionally always been my favorite kinds of posts to read because they cover a lot more books (increasing the likelihood I’ll recognize a title on their lists) and most often got more personal, which I have always found really appealing in blogs I want to follow. I like to feel like I know more about the bloggers than just their bookish thoughts/opinions.

From these posts, I have a few trails to follow:

  1. I could investigate the blog I was on, finding out what kinds of books they reviewed/liked, look at their most recent posts to see if I anything interested me enough to post a comment.
  2. I could follow shout out links provided by the bloggers of any noteworthy blog posts they found worth reading and, therefore, sharing. I discovered a lot of new blogs this way! (Reason why I want to start doing this on a more regular basis.)
  3. I also could investigate the blogs of people who commented on the original posts. It felt great finding blogs I liked this way because I knew these bloggers were more likely to respond to my comments, making the blog hopping all the more satisfying.

At the beginning this all took a lot of work, taking more than just couple of hours depending on the quality of my leads. I was really looking for blogs I liked a lot, so I was going through older posts to get a better picture of what these blogs had to offer. Once I had a good number of new blogs that I was following based on how I connected to their content, my feeds became much more reliable sources for blog posts I could reasonably expect to enjoy during the month.

Although I ended up discovering a lot of new blogs that I really admired, it didn’t necessarily mean that I found it a lot easier to comment on each post I came across. From the outset of this journey, I knew I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time with quick, generic comments. I also learned, just about myself, that I like I try to read the comments that come before I write mine so I don’t comment the exact same thing. And sometimes even if I enjoy reading a post enough to “like” it, I don’t always find myself having something new or meaningful to comment.

A big surprise for me was learning how engaging some blog tags and memes (like Top Ten Tuesday) could be. Over time, I had come to dismiss these kinds of posts as filler posts of little substance. I still come across blog tags where people don’t elaborate on their answers, which seems like a big waste if they go through the effort of making the blog post I will click on. But there are bloggers out there who I can tell spend a lot of time on them and it was really fun to start conversations from their answers.

•     Before June     •

I did not look at the blog posts in my WordPress Reader or Bloglovin’ feed on a regular basis at all. When I did, it was when I was in need of inspiration. and it was rare I saw a post title that caught my genuine interest. Most of the time I would click on posts, it was because it was the a monthly wrap up or TBR (I still love the broader picture of a blogger that is painted by posts) OR because it was a book review for a title I’ve already read and liked/disliked and wanted to see if my thoughts were confirmed or challenged.

I don’t think I ever commented on anything.

•     After June     •

There are a handful of blogs that’s names come to mind when I think about blogs that I love reading. When I see their blog posts in my feeds I can remember things about these bloggers and am interested in staying up-to-date with everything they post. I better appreciate tags and memes, especially if they come from bloggers I like who I know will put time and thought into these posts. I may not blog hop every day, but it’s a pleasure when I’m all caught up on my blog posts to open up a bunch of tabs and catch up on everything I’ve missed.

❧ ☙ End Note ☙ ❧

I’m sorry this post is coming out a bit late. I had a lot of trouble writing this post. At times, it took a few detours that I had to omit by thinking about what I wanted this post to be. Essentially, I wanted to come away from my experience last month with something that recorded what I did in case I ever take another break from blogging or feel that I’ve started to slack in being a good blog reader.

Up next immediately on Betwined Reads the list of some of my favorite (book) blogs at the moment. I’ll be up late tonight working on it, because I know it’s something that’s been highly anticipated. I did not expect so many people to want to see what blogs I love, but I guess it speaks to everyone’s desire to follow blogs that are doing awesome things. I worry my favorites are not going to be very new discoveries to anyone else!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

Blog Hopping in June

It’s been a personal goal of mine since starting Betwined Reads not only to share and record the books I read or my personal writing progress, but also to connect with other bloggers. My mission is to discover more up-and-coming bloggers who are making things that inspire me or simply just make me happy, whether they be specifically bookish or innovative in how they blog.

As I’m finally happy with the direction my blog is going and in my own personal blogging style, I’ve decided blog hopping might help me better put myself out there for others to discover. I also think I will become a better blogger by becoming a better blog reader, in the way that good writers must also be good readers.

Since I’ve found I’m more successful at completing goals when I have established metrics for success, I have established some challenges for tracking my progress as I blog hop this June. In case anyone else decided they might want to embark on a similar journey with me, I’ve also decided to share the specific challenges I’ve set for myself!

  1. Blog hop daily!
  2. Comment on at least five different blogs daily
  3. Shine a spotlight on the new blogs I’ve discovered and love in a weekly compilation post (primarily blogs with less than 100 followers)
  4. Write discussion posts each week for timely topic, citing others in the community who have inspired me by sharing their two cents

End Note

In the comments, let me know if you’re a regular blog hopper. Also, let me know if you would like to join me on this journey this June. As for me, I expect to try integrating blog hopping into my daily life this final week of May so that my first compilation and discussion posts will be on time next week.

This will be an exciting week on Betwined Reads! I have posted scheduled every day starting Tuesday with my book review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I hope you enjoy!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

The Return

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 4.04.58 PM

In which I explain why stopped blogging and announce my hesitant return.

Hello, everyone.

I’ve spent the past week plotting my return to blogging here at Betwined Reads. I spent some much need time thinking long and hard about what I want this space to be, what I have to offer, and for whom I am writing this blog. A necessary question I had to ask myself was what has kept me from blogging, and that was the hardest to fully nail down. Especially since it feels sometimes that I have nothing but time.

I used to think that I could not blog if I wasn’t reading or writing, that there’d be nothing of value to talk about. But recently I have been both reading and writing and I have still been hesitant to hit that “Write” button and start new posts.

So what else?

Blogging can be hard work. Dedicating time to sit down and write. Editing your words to make sure they’re as clear and concise as possible. Working on the presentation of the blog post (i.e. featured images, banners). It’s easy to get burned out! Especially if at the end of the day, you are not happy with what you are creating. And I have not been happy with my most recent blog posts.

When I would go back to reread my posts after I published them, I often felt that words rang hollow. It’s not that I have ever lied about my thoughts or opinions in my blog posts, but I have realized that I’ve censored myself.

Censored, how? you might be wondering. Well, I feel like I’ve kept you, my blog readers, at an arm’s distance, if that makes sense. Too a degree I think it’s something we all do, and that’s not the problem in itself. But I feel that what I’d censored has been an important part of what makes me me. And it has made me feel like a phony.

I’ve felt lost ever since graduating college in 2015, and even though I went straight to grad school that fall, I’ve felt like a paper bag floating in the wind. I’ve got no roots anywhere and feel directionless, especially since I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I feel at such odds with the optimism of the young book bloggers filling this space and the young housewives and mothers who have stability and peace of mind to build and run their book blogs.

This is feeling of inadequacy is what I’ve been hiding. It’s scary. I often vacillate wildly between feelings of confidence/insecurity and optimism/hopelessness. Looking back at the past year’s posts, I don’t recognize myself in that false optimism.

So when I was thinking about how I might get back into blogging, I realized that I needed to abandon these subconscious desires to portray myself as someone who has it all together and figured out. I needed to stop looking at how other book bloggers write and find something that was authentic to me.

I thought about what I personally look for in a blog. In many ways, I realized that there are no bloggers (that I’m aware of) that really fulfilled what I was looking for. So my goal is fill that void with the blog posts I create moving forward.

I’m not faking optimism this time when I say I want to start posting regularly to this blog. I want to write blog posts about the books I’m reading and the things that are making me happy at the moment. I also want to help others who might feel as lost as I do. I’m going to start writing with the target audience of myself in mind.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who made it through this entire post. And I’m sorry if I’ve in any way let anyone down.

If you are still on the fence about whether you want to be subscribed to this blog, I recommend checking out my recently updated About page that has been renamed The Girl & the Blog. My hope is that it does a good job of explaining what I like and what you can expect from the blog. I have many posts in the pipeline and can’t wait to start making things of which I can be proud.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.