July reading journal set-up

My July reading journal set up video is posted on YouTube! If you want the flip through, the video is linked below.

Because this is going up so late in the month, and I neglected to film the final July cover page and outbox spreads until today (!), I end up revealing the first two books I read this month at the end of the video. Just skip that part if you don’t want spoilers for my end of month wrap-up. But really, does anyone care about spoilers for a reading wrap up? I can’t imagine that’s an actual thing.

If you don’t want to watch the video or if you just want the non-spoiler version of my July cover page and don’t care about my Hugo nominee spread or the weird little TBR pockets I made, here’s a photo for you.

While I didn’t really mention any specific reading plans in the video, I did mention my plan to read the Hugo nominees for best novel and best novella. I also showed how I’m going to track and rank them. I just never said when I planned to read them.

I don’t plan to fill my entire TBR with Hugo nominees this month, but I do want to make a large dent in that reading list before August.

Roughly, these are my reading goals for July:

  • Don’t waste time on books that are bogging me down! If I feel like I *have* to finish them for some reason (like the Hugo nominees), then set a daily page count target and alternate with something fun and fast paced at the same time.
  • Finish reading Project Hail Mary and A Master of Djinn since I’ve already started reading both.
  • Read In An Absent Dream and Come Tumbling Down so I can get caught up on the Wayward Children novellas. (The one that comes after these is on my Hugo nominee for best novella reading list.)
  • Start working through the nominees for best novella, starting with the shortest one (Fireheart Tiger) and moving through them in order of shortest to longest (Across the Green Grass Fields).

It’s an ambitious reading plan, but I think I can work through the novellas pretty quickly, and I like quick wins.

If I can manage to check off all my goals this month, then I’ll only have two best novel nominees left to read in August. One of those is kind of intimidating, but it is the novel I think I will end up liking best of the bunch. The other is one I definitely expect is going to drag for me (given how I’ve felt about other books I’ve read by that author). So the more I can read this month, the better.

That said, the priority for the month is that first goal. I want to be immersed and enjoying what I’m reading as much as possible. The theme for the month is beach vibes after all!

What are your reading goals for July and/or the second half of this year?

Planning for a productive week

It’s the first Monday of June!

Did you know I love the start of a new month? I’m all about that monthly goal reset, and I’m always making tweaks to my productivity systems whenever I feel like I’ve stopped making forward progress.

I love my bullet journal for making lists and taking notes, but sometimes the bigger projects (like writing and editing a novel) get lost in the day to day grind. It’s way too easy for me to get distracted by crossing admin tasks off my list and forget about the big stuff. Especially when it’s just one bullet point among many.

So I came up with the idea to use a little dry erase board on my desk to keep my project tasks top of mind.

Each week, I load it up with all the bite-size tasks that make up whatever project I’m trying to complete that week. Each task is meant to be something I think I can do in thirty minutes (aka, a “sprint”). Then, each morning, I pick four tasks to move to the “Today” section of the board. Once I start a task, I move it down to the “Started” section. And once it’s done, I move it to the “Done” section. At the end of the week I toss the “Done” tasks and reset the board for the new week. It’s very satisfying.

This week, I’ve set up my board with one task sticky for each chapter of Petals and Runes. The project goal for this week is to complete my read through and collect all my revision notes. Ideally, I’m going to focus on reading and making notes, not on actually revising.

I’m not really sure if it’s going to take me a full week to get through this, or not. Every book is different. Sometimes this process goes really fast. I suspect that, since I haven’t been back in this world for a while, this is going to be pretty slow. I think I’m going to have to stop frequently to make notes as I read.

Also, this isn’t the only thing I’m doing this week. In addition to this writing project, I have a lot of other publishing admin tasks to do related to the Ash of the Fae release on the 21st, plus my usual household stuff to do. I’m keeping track of all that stuff in the weekly spread in my bullet journal. So, I think allocating a whole week for this part of the revision process is a realistic estimate.

How about you? How are you keeping track of your to-do list this week?

June reading journal set-up

My June reading journal set-up is live!

Below is the link to the full video on YouTube…

In the video I mention the four books that are on my TBR for June. They are:

  • Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon — my current in-progress read
  • Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin — a writing craft book to help me with my current project (which I promise I’ll talk more about in a future post)
  • A Dance With the Fae Prince by Elise Kova — my pick for International Fairy Day on 24 June
  • How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole — a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time that keeps getting put off

I also mentioned that there are a whole bunch more that are at the top of my TBR, I just didn’t have the covers printed out. So I didn’t add them to the pocket. One of those is the book that I’m planning to start this weekend: A Master of Djinn by P. Djรจlรญ Clark.

The SFWA Nebula Conference was a couple weeks ago, and I was reminded again how much I’ve been looking forward to this book after reading the novella set in the same world (The Haunting of Tram Car 015). They’re basically mystery novels set in a sort of steampunk alternate Cairo. I really loved the novella and can’t wait to read the novel.

So that’s my plan. Now it’s your turn. What are you reading this weekend? What’s on your TBR for June?

March 2022 Reading Journal Set-Up

We’re already several days into the month of March, but don’t worry. I didn’t forget about posting my reading journal spread. This post just took a bit longer than usual to write. You’ll see why in a bit.

I have been messing around with my friend’s Canvas lamp. (Side note: She’s awesome and you should go check out her art!). I saw an ad for the Canvas lamp (which is like a ring light that has a phone holder and clamps to your desk), and I was considering buying one when I found out that Zoe had recently received one as a gift. So she’s letting me test it out while she’s busy with other stuff. I have mixed feelings about it so far. I think I can take better photos without the lamp (the one above was taken with the lamp, then “enhanced” a bit on my phone before uploading). So if that’s all I am going to do with it, I can buy a cheaper desk lamp for my office. But…

I did play around with making a video flip-through of my reading journal set-up. You can check that out below.

It’s a little rough, but I don’t think that’s the lamp’s fault. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think I need more practice if I’m going to make more videos like this. But I’m willing to give it a few more tries. If you want me to make more set-up and/or flip-thru videos, please let me know by liking my video on YT, and/or subscribing to my channel, and/or just leaving a comment over there or on this post. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a March wrap-up flip through and a set-up video for April where I actually film the me-doing-art part.

If you watch the video, you’ll get to hear me talking about my plans for the Mini-Magical Readathon in March. I made a few spreads to help me keep track of my reading prompts and options. I have to read a minimum of two books. One to earn my magical conduit and another to determine my legacy. I’m putting off picking books to go with the prompts until closer to the start of the event (14 March).

In addition to participating in the Mini-Magical Readathon, I have a few other reading goals for this month. I didn’t make specific pages for these in my reading journal. I am just sharing them here for accountability, and so I can remember to report back on how I did when I do my wrap-up post at the end of the month.

  • Aggressively DNF! — I really need to stop feeling guilty about not finishing books that just aren’t clicking with me. Usually, it’s not the book’s fault, which makes it even harder to just put it down and pick up something else. The problem is, if I’m forcing myself to read a book that I’m not clicking with, it takes me at least 2x as long to read it, and I risk putting myself in a slump. So, this month I’m going to be aggressive about DNFing anything that I’m not enjoying. If it’s not a “hell, yes!” then I’m setting it aside and saying “maybe later.”
  • Read at least one non-fiction book — I have a stack of non-fiction that I want to get through this year. The trick is going to be picking one that doesn’t violate my “aggressively DNF” goals.
  • Read at least 60 pages of one book from my physical TBR (then finish or DNF/donate) — This goes nicely with my “aggressively DNF” goal. I set myself a sixty page evaluation point because most of the books in my physical TBR stack are around 300 pages, and if I’m not into a book by the ~20% mark, then it’s probably not happening. I don’t need to horde books that I’m not interested in reading anymore, especially ones I got from subscription boxes. So, the goal is to pick one, read 60 pages, and decide if I want to keep going. If yes, I’ll try to finish it before the end of the month. If no, I’ll donate it, pick another, and repeat until I find something that sticks.

So that’s what I have planned for March. What are your reading plans? Are you participating in the Mini-Magical Readathon? If so, which guild did you get sorted into? Any fellow Mind Walkers out there?

Setting up my reading journal for the New Year

We’ve been having a week of cold and stormy weather where I live. So I’ve been home, hanging out by the fire, and working on setting up my reading journal for 2022.

Despite my ongoing love/hate relationship with my reading journal, I’ve decided to continue using it next year. Some of that decision has to do with the fact that I’ve only filled half the pages in this notebook. But also, I am starting to prefer tracking my reading in my journal to tracking it on Goodreads. Plus, I think I’ve finally figured out how I want to use it to track notes about the books I’ve read.

So, keep scrolling if you want to see how I’ve set things up for 2022 and what I’ve kept and changed from last year’s set up.

2022 Reading cover page with a stack of books

I don’t like the placement of that quill and ink bottle sticker on my cover page, but other than that I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Like this year, the Tombow marker color I used for the genre is marked on the book spine, and I’ll be using this color coding when I draw in books on the book case in the following spread.

Books Read in 2022 with three empty bookshelves

I liked the year overview bookshelf that I did this year, so I decided to do it again. I only made a few changes. The stripes of black that serve as the base of the shelves are a bit wider this time, and I wrote the month under where I’m going to draw in the books instead of above. Also, I figured out that one of the rectangles on the ruler / stencil combo that I have is the perfect size to use as a book spine. I doodled some in on the May / June shelf just to test it out, and then I added a sticker for decoration.

2022 Reading Stats table with one line per month to fill in total books read and other relevant stats about my reading, and list of 2022 Reading Goals.

I haven’t quite finished this spread, yet. I’m still working on what data I actually want to keep track of (aside from number of books read). This year I kept track of things like book format, age category, and books written by BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ authors. I will probably do something similar in 2022, but I’m going to wait until I have my reading goals sorted out before I draw in any more columns. For example, what’s the point of tracking what format I read in (ebook vs. print vs. audio) or where the book comes from (owned vs. library vs. gift) if I don’t have a reading goal associated with that data? I mean, it’s interesting information. But maybe I can just make a note of that on the page of book notes and not track it here? I don’t know.

2022 Read Harder Challenge from Book Riot printed out and pasted into my journal

I’ve always enjoyed Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. I’ve participated on and off every year since the first one. But in 2021 I pretty much ignored the challenge completely. I put the prompts into my reading journal at the start of the year, just in case I changed my mind part way through and decided I wanted to participate. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t do any of them, even accidentally.

I’m putting the prompts in again for 2022, but this time, after looking over the prompts, I think I may end up participating at least a little bit. And maybe on purpose? We’ll see. I do think it’s a great list of prompts if you’re looking to diversify your reading (which is always one of my reading goals).

I love all the read a genre book by a BIPOC and/or LQBTQIA+ prompts, especially the “read a book in any genre by a POC thatโ€™s about joy and not trauma” prompt. Possibly my favorite of the prompts for 2022 is “read a romance where at least one of the protagonists is over 40.” My least favorite of the prompts is definitely “read an award-winning book from the year you were born,” because I think it’s going to be very hard for me to find a book I’m excited about reading that fits that prompt.

Aside from casual participation in the Read Harder Challenge, I don’t plan on doing any other official reading challenges, and I am not making a “22 books to read in 2022” list because that was an utter fail this year. I think I read maybe three of the books I put on that list?

I do have a couple of reading projects that I’ve set for myself. The first is a re-read of all the novels and novellas that I’ve published to date in my Modern Fae series. I want to complete this in January, if possible, before I dive into developmental edits on book five. So I made this spread to track my reading progress.

The Great Modern Fae Re-Read with cover images of the four novels and four novellas published to date and a check box next to each.

I also have a selection of writing books and a short list of non-fiction books on anti-racist and social justice topics that I want to read in 2022. Those are going to be incorporated into my goals, I think. I may also make a spread to track them. Other than that, I’m going to continue to resist the urge to make TBRs in 2022. Instead, I’m going to try to follow my reading whims where they lead.

I have one more book (maybe two?) that I want to try to finish before the end of 2021. Then I can do my December wrap-up and my 2021 reading stats posts. I also need to set up my cover page for January, once I decide what sort of cover image I want. And finish my 2022 reading goals. So stay tuned for more reading journal posts, coming soon.

And if you want to join in my Modern Fae re-read, I’m starting with Eve of the Fae on the first of January, and I’ll be posting progress over on Instagram.

In the meantime, do you have a reading journal or are you starting one for 2022? Are you setting any reading goals for 2022? Are you participating in any challenges or setting any reading projects for yourself? Let me know in the comments.

Writing Process Insights From NaNoWriMo

We’re just about halfway through December, and I am still working on finishing up the first draft of the novel I was working on for NaNoWriMo. I’m down to the final two chapters, and I’m dragging my feet about finishing them. Seemed like a good time to recap what I learned from this year’s NaNoWriMo.

I’m breaking this post into three parts. Part one includes the new things I tried to incorporate into my writing process in November that worked better than I thought they would. Part two is the stuff that did not work as well as I thought it would. And part three are the things I have carried over into December.

Things I tried this month that worked better than I expected

  • At least one sprint “first thing” in the morning — This was possibly the one thing that worked best for me and made me the most productive. By “first thing” I don’t mean that I got up at 5am to write. I’m not naturally a morning writer, and the 5am writers’ club has never really worked for me, even when I worked full time. I can exercise early in the morning, but it takes a while for my brain to wake up. This month, I decided to let myself wake up at a normal time for me. I ate my breakfast and drank my tea like I usually do. But instead of letting the morning get away from me, I tried to get into my office to write at least one sprint by 9am. I didn’t always succeed, but the days that I did, it was so much better. At some point, I realized that the longer I wait to write during the day the harder it is for me to sit my butt down and get it done. The resistance builds to the point where I start to think “meh, I’ll just do more tomorrow.” But if I write for even just thirty minutes right after breakfast, even if I ignore my project for the rest of the day, it’s so much easier to go back to it in the evening and finish my sprints. I have no idea why this works, but it does, and it’s become my new thing.
  • Alarm on my phone — I set an alarm for weekdays at 9am to remind me to get my butt out to my office and get to work. This allowed me to relax a bit more while I ate breakfast, checked my email, read, or listened to a podcast. I knew I could rely on my alarm to remind me to get to work (more so than a calendar reminder, which did NOT work).
  • Reprioritizing my “to-do” list — This goes along with writing “first thing” in the morning. Normally, I have all these little tasks that fill up my to-do list that I think are only going to take a few minutes and end up taking an hour or more. Since I like the satisfaction of checking things off my list, I do them first, even though I know I shouldn’t. Giving myself permission to basically ignore all that until December (or at least until I got my writing done for the day) was magic. All of a sudden I was doing what was important to me first instead of doing a bunch of admin stuff that was not time sensitive. And, I still got the satisfaction of checking things off my list because of the next two items.
  • Sprint log — I have never used one of these before, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to use it, but I thought I’d give it a try. It turns out that I found it super motivating to have a place to jot down my word count after each sprint! I don’t even care what the number was. Just the act of being able to write it down (and color in the box on my sprint summary log), gave me that boost of “yay! I did a thing! Let’s do it again!”
  • Word count progress chart — When I set this up, I thought maybe this was overkill, but I ended up really liking the visual progress tracker aspect of being able to color in boxes for each 1k words written. The stuff in the middle was a little redundant and unnecessary, but the progress chart was really helpful.
  • Limiting social media and other online distractions — I do this by using the digital health controls on my phone and allowing myself only five minutes (each) on Instagram and Twitter. Those are the only two social apps on my phone. I don’t log into any social apps on the computer in my office. Limiting the amount of time I could spend on an app made it so that I knew I could check it whenever, but I couldn’t get lost in the infinite scroll. Once my five minutes were up, they were gone for the day and it was time to get to work.

Things I tried that didn’t really work for me

  • Scheduling time to write on Google calendar — I thought this was going to help, but I didn’t even look at these time blocks once during the month. This method of time management just does not work for me.
  • Having consistent rules about what distractions were allowed and when they were allowed — I had this idea that I was going to outlaw all social media and gaming until after my writing was done for the day. That didn’t really work. I found that I was much more productive when I allowed myself to play some MtG Arena, or watch a YouTube video (or three), or even watch a full episode of a serial between writing sprints. Sure it delayed how long it took me to get my writing done for the day, but it also made it so that I never really felt like my creative well was going dry. This refueling became especially important on some of those days leading up to 50k when I only had to do two thirty minute writing sprints, but I was already pretty drained from writing so much in such a short amount of time. Honestly, this is the least burnt out I’ve felt after a NaNoWriMo, and I think that flexing this rule is why.
  • Crockpot meals — This one surprised me. I love crockpot meals. But unless the recipe was just “dump these four ingredients into the crockpot and turn it on,” preparing a crockpot meal used up valuable morning hours just to free up less valuable pre-dinner hours. Since getting out to my office and getting at least one sprint in turned out to be the most important thing I needed to do each day in order to get my writing done, I realized it was a lot easier to pick recipes that allowed me to do all the cooking in the evening.
  • Any cooking that required a lot of steps or prep — This one I underestimated. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal, but we have this one recipe that we eat all the time, and it’s pretty easy to prepare, but it involves a LOT of vegetable prep time. I had already purchased the veggies and they were going to rot if I didn’t use them, so I went ahead with my meal plan. But, after that first week, I decided that this recipe is not for NaNoWriMo, or at least not for days when I need to get a LOT of writing done.

What I’m doing for December (since I’m still finishing this draft)

I’m still using my spreadsheet to manage and tweak my daily word count goals, but I’ve combined what I think were the most useful and motivating parts of my various trackers into one layout. I’ve got the progress bar on the outside like last time, but this time I moved the daily word count and sprint tracker to the inside. The calendar is a Midori blank calendar sticker. The little unicorn sticker is from Procrastiplanner. The little arrows were supposed to mark reward milestones, but I decided not to do rewards this month. Each day, I’m putting my daily word count above the little line in the calendar box, and putting stars for sprints below the line. One star is equal to one sprint, or thirty minutes of writing.

I’m still using the sprint log to jot down when I’m writing and how many words I wrote in my thirty minute sprints. It’s become a bit less important now that I’m really only trying to get two sprints in per day instead of three or more like I was doing during NaNoWriMo. For that reason, I’m not sure if I’ll keep using this outside of periods like NaNoWriMo where I’m making a focused push to fast draft a first draft.

As you can see from the picture, I’ve changed quite a bit of the pre-printed tracker from Sarra Cannon’s NaNoWriMo Prep workbook. I’ve adapted it to fit better with what I actually want to track. Specifically, what time did I start the sprint, how many words did I write, and what’s my new total word count. If I decide to use a sprint tracker again, I’ll probably just make my own and either draw it directly into my notebook or make something that will fit the page better when I paste it in. That way I don’t have to keep cutting out headers and Frankensteining together the cut up bits of the original tracker.

I have big writing plans for next year that include a lot more fast drafting, but I’ll talk about that more when I do a post on 2022 goals. So we’ll see how much of this new process stuff sticks in the New Year. In the meantime, let me know in the comments how your NaNoWriMo went. Did you learn anything new about what does and doesn’t work for your writing process?

NaNoWriMo Update With BuJo Word Count Tracker

It is day four of NaNoWriMo, and so far the month is off to a great start. I decided to work on completing the first draft of a project that I had already written over 11k words on. I guess that makes me a NaNo Rebel this year. But, my first drafts are always at least 60k words. So I think this starting early strategy is going to be a really good thing for me. Instead of reaching the end of the month (and of the challenge) but not getting to write “the end” on my draft, this year I may actually hit 50k words written in the month AND get to the end.

I promised in one of my NaNo Prep posts to post an update with photos of the final version of my bullet journal word count tracker. So, let me show you how that turned out and how I’m using it.

The progress bar around the outside shows my progress toward the 50k word goal. I marked each 10k milestone with a sparkle star to remind me that reaching that point qualifies me for one of my rewards. The boxes inside that progress bar (one for each day of the month) are divided in half. I debated what I wanted to put in those. I ultimately decided to go ahead with putting the total words written that day on the top and the total words in the project on the bottom. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it that way because my total words in the project are not going to align with that 50k progress bar (because I started early). But, I decided that didn’t matter since I’m keeping track of the math in my spreadsheet. I didn’t need to do it here, too.

I also created a rewards plan, and a more detailed word count log on a separate spread.

I struggled to come up with rewards and ended up with a mix of new movies / shows I want to watch and fun stuff I want to purchase. I’m rewarding myself for hitting my daily word count with Magic the Gathering Arena, YouTube, and re-watches of favorite movies and/or shows. But there are several new movies and shows coming out in November and December that I’m really looking forward to watching. So, I decided to use those for three of the goals. The release timing worked out to have two movies as rewards for 10k and 30k, while saving the big Wheel of Time series watch until after I’m totally done with NaNoWriMo).

I filled in the other two slots with minor purchases of fun and frivolous stuff. I went with $20 as my wish list spending limit because it’s the reward for hitting 20k words. And I decided on four stickers for the 40k word reward so it would be like one for every 10k words. Neither of these are things I would probably just buy anyway because neither of them are things I really need. I mean, I already have a TON of stickers. But it would be nice to get some new ones for my 2022 BuJo and for my 2022 writing goals planner, which I will probably start setting up in December.

I just hit the 10k words milestone this morning, so technically, I could go watch that movie now. But I’m going to wait until I after I do a few more sprints and hit my daily word count goal.

Speaking of sprints, I added a sprint tracker to my word count log so that I could mark off progress throughout the day. I’m keeping track of my actual word count per sprint on a loose sheet of paper. I may decide to glue that into my planner at some point, but for now I’m keeping it separate. I decided that my daily minimum was going to be three thirty minute sprints. I would need more than that for the first two weeks in order to hit my reverse word count goals. But, if I was really just not feeling it after three thirty minute sprints, I was going to let myself call it a day.

The first two days were great. Day three was a little tough, and today got off to a little bit of a rough start. But, very little of the that had to do with the writing. Plus, once I got going, hitting that 10k milestone gave me a boost of added motivation. Also, I’m in the middle of a big dialogue scene with lots of conflict, and I’m building to this twist that I am really excited about, so that all helps.

If you’re also participating in NaNoWriMo, I hope your writing is also going well! I’ll try to post another update mid-month. In the meantime, happy writing and/or reading!

Starting a Reading Journal for 2021

A little while back I asked for advice on what I should do to streamline my reading tracking for 2021. After posting that, I spent some time thinking about why I track reading metrics, and what metrics, if any, were most important to me. My hope was that, if I could reduce the amount of data I want to keep track of, maybe I could eliminate the spreadsheet, at least.

Then, because I knew that journaling about what I was reading was important to me and something I definitely wanted to add, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos where folks showed off how they set up their reading journals. Turns out that there are a LOT of really inspiring reading journals out there.

Many of these reading journals have extensive artistic collage layouts with lots of washi and stickers, and most include some sort of tracker for “days read.” I’m not sure how artsy I’m going to get with my reading journal, but I did decide to incorporate a few of the more popular spreads, with my own personal twist, of course.

My plan is to use Goodreads as my book database since I’ve already got all my shelves set up so I know what I own and haven’t read yet and if it’s on my Kindle or on my bookshelf. I also use it to keep track of what books I have on hold at the library, and what’s on my TBR. Plus, it’s easy to sort things by number of pages or title or author or whatever. But… I don’t review stuff there.

That’s where the reading journal is going to come in.

Step one: I took a plain (not dotted) Leuchtturm that I had in my stash of blank notebooks, and started covering it with bookish stickers.

Next I took my list of ideas from the YouTube videos I watched and started laying them out in pencil. Once I was happy with what I had, I started inking things in and adding color.

I started with a title page that also serves as a key for my “year in review” bookshelf on the next pages.

I divided the two pages into three “shelves.” My plan is to draw books on these shelves in clumps that correspond to the months of the year, starting in the upper left where you can see that I wrote “January” on the black strip that serves as the top of the shelf. If you look closely, you can see that I’ve penciled in some books on the shelf as placeholders.

Once January is over, I’ll go draw in the appropriate number of book spines in some combination of horizontal and vertical, leaving space for February on the same half of the page. Depending on how many books I read in January, I may just hold off on drawing these in until after February. I’ll add the titles to the spines and then color them in according to genre, adding a little red heart on the spine if the book is also a romance.

Once that was set up, I spent some time drawing a grid to track my reading stats, and making a page for my 2021 reading goals.

My plan is to capture my reading stats each month and then enter the data here. In general, I decided that I wanted to track the following things:

  • Total books read (goal is at least 52, or one per week on average)
  • How many books I read that were published in 2021
  • How many Indie published books I read
  • How many books I read in each format (audio, ebook, and paper)
  • How many books I read that I own vs. that are from the library
  • How many books I read that are written by Black authors and/or other non-white (goal is 12 by Black authors and 12 by other non-white authors)
  • How many books I read with LGBTQ+ main character(s) and/or written by an LGBTQ+ author (goal is 12 books) — Note: I decided not to just make this about the author demographics because, while I strive to prioritize Own Voices books, an author’s sexuality is none of my business.
  • And finally… how many books I read that are YA vs. Adult

I know, it’s still a lot to keep track of and maybe in 2022 I’ll decide to streamline it more. I tried to only keep the metrics I wanted to set goals for, but a couple more (like YA vs. Adult and Indie pub books) snuck in there. I couldn’t help it. I like data.

Underneath my very short list of goals, I added a “21 in 2021” book cover collage. These are the books that I’ve been meaning to get to for way too long. They either get buried on my Kindle, or I’ve walked past them on my bookshelf so many times that I’ve forgotten they’re there. I tried to pick only the ones that I am most excited to read and not focus on stuff that I feel guilty for not reading.

You may also notice that there are only twenty covers pasted in right now. I’m still debating on what book gets that final slot. It somewhat depends on what book(s) I manage to finish before the end of 2020. If you have a book you want to make a strong case for, let me know in the comments.

Finally, I added one more spread for the year before diving into my monthly pages.

I couldn’t resist adding the 2021 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks. I am not going to be actively participating in that challenge this year, but I wanted to add the prompts just for fun. If I do happen to read a book or two that check any of those boxes, I’m planning to write in the page number that corresponds to my notes on that book.

I left the opposite page blank to be filled in with books that I buy in 2021. I’m not sure if I’ll do another cover collage or if I’ll just make a list of titles and authors. I may start off by writing a list in pencil and then going back and adding covers in batches, once I have enough that it makes sense to print them out.

After that, I started a spread for January.

This one is still in-progress. I got a little crafty and used bits of a cute wrapping paper to dress it up a bit. I’m still working on my TBR. Again, it kind of depends on what book(s) I manage to finish before the New Year. I’m thinking of this like a bullet journal, but for reading. So that would make this my month cover page and goals page.

The two pages after this will include a list of what I read in January, plus my January book stats (kind of like a “month at a glance” spread if this were a bullet journal). That will be followed by entries for each book I read with at least a page of notes (and favorite quotes, etc.) from each (sort of like “daily pages” in a bullet journal).

Is this a lot more work than keeping track of my reading in a spreadsheet? Maybe…. But it’s also more fun. Plus, I am attempting to move to using a “regular planner” in 2021, so this will fill the bullet journalling hole in my life.

What do you think? Do you keep a reading journal? If you do, is it artsy? Or do you keep it pretty minimalist? Let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas for me in the comments.

Happy reading!

Tracking My Reading in 2021 (advice needed)

It’s the end of the year, and I’m reconsidering how I track my reading… again. I’ve decided to move away from bullet journaling in 2021. I know. I’m shocked as well. But, I need something with a little more structure that can help me stay on track with several different goals and projects next year. So, I bought a Passion Planner Weekly.

My idea is that I’ll use my weekly planner to keep track of what needs to get done each month / week. Then I’m going to have a separate journal for daily (or semi-daily) journaling, doodling, and general brain dumping. I could use that journal for keeping track of my reading, or I could keep doing something more like what I’m doing now.

Right now I keep track of “book logistics” in Goodreads. Things like: what I’ve read, what I want to read, what’s on my Kindle, what’s unread on my bookshelf, what’s on hold at the library, what’s on my must-read TBR, etc. But I don’t review books on Goodreads. I give books I read a star rating, which is almost always four or five stars, and that’s it.

I also have a reading spreadsheet kind of like this one, where I keep track of my book stats. Things like: how many books did I read by authors of color, or by queer authors, or how many books were fiction vs. non-fiction, and how did my reading break down by genre, etc. I like data. I like having quantitative information about what (and whose) stories I put into my brain each year.

I recently added a few columns to the end of my reading spreadsheet where I can rate the book I’ve read on a few different factors (characters, world-building, plot, enjoyment, etc.). The ratings on each element compile into a total score for a book. This allows me to have a more definitive ranking of which were my favorite books that I read, and why. But, I don’t write down my thoughts about a book there, either. It’s just a bunch of numbers.

So here I am, thinking about why I keep track of what I read and what I want to change (if anything for next year). I feel like I need a place where I can write down my thoughts about a book, uncensored and not to be published for public consumption. Something like a book journal. But, I’m hesitant to add yet another method for tracking my reading. It already seems like way too much.

Tell me, what do you think? How do you track your reading? Do you have a book journal or do you just post reviews on a blog/vlog? Do you even differentiate between public and private thoughts about a book? Are you still using Goodreads or do you use a spreadsheet? Or are you using both?

Post a comment and let me know what you think. And if you have good resources that you would recommend for this sort of thing, let me know.

January 2020 Bullet Journal Set-Up

And now a break from the reading summaries, stats, and updates to share my bullet journal spreads for 2020. Unlike most, I don’t bother starting a new notebook at the start of a new year. If I still have pages left in my current notebook, I just keep going.

Before diving into my 2020 spreads, I used almost ten pages planning my 2020 writing schedule and goals which I’m not showing here. In general, I laid out a future log for the entire year, four months to a page, divided horizontally so I had space for mini calendars on the left and notes on the right in each box. Then I used pencil (not normal for me) to start putting in rough plans for what writing project(s) I wanted to be working on each month.

In addition to that, I came up with two major writing goals for the year. One is a revenue goal and the other is to “build my backlist.” After that, I made sure my Q1 goals and projects tied to my 2020, and that’s it. All that’s left is to set up some sort of Kanban board to track my tasks associated with those project and make sure it all gets done. With that more or less set up, I moved on to my reading goals for 2020.

I’m keeping it pretty simple with this two page spread. On the left side, I can keep track of new books that I want to put on hold at the library (or add to my wishlist). There’s an 8×8 box for each month, and I’m writing the release date and title in each box for the books I’m excited about. On the right side, I’ve listed my reading goals for the year (which I’m going to talk about more in a separate post). Then I’m using the bottom half of the page as a tracker for the books I’ve purchased to make sure I’m buying and reading books rather than buying and hoarding them.

Next up is my month at a glance. I like the traditional line-a-day view for this. I’m putting my regular life events on the left side and my writing business stuff on the right side. I also have a little habit tracker on the left side for the four habits I’m tracking in January (vitamin, meditation, cardio, and stretching).

The right hand side also has a mini habit tracker because I have a goal of writing 1000 words every day in January. They can be in any of the three Modern Fae projects I’m currently working on, but blog posts and outlining and brainstorming don’t count. It has to be part of a story scene, even if I eventually end up cutting it from the finished product. Ultimately, I want to see if I can keep this up all year, but I’m going to take it one month at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed by my ambition.

On the next page, I have a big blank page for capturing what I read that month and any favorites from my “culture consumed” (like podcasts, music, movies, tv shows, etc.). I’m not sure exactly what this will end up looking like, but I’m intending to try to make it a bit of a collage. I’m thinking of printing out mini book covers to paste in, or maybe doodling the covers of the books I’ve read. I’ll probably add ticket stubs from movies, if I go to any. I’m leaving plenty of space to be creative and have a bit of fun.

I’m also trying something new this month. I’ve never done a mood tracker before. I thought it might be helpful to be able to visually compare my mood to my movement, so I came up with the idea for this chart.

The days of the month are across the bottom. Number of steps are on the vertical axis alongside a very basic mood scale from “no good very bad day” to “everything is awesome” with “meh” in the middle. I’m using some symbols to track what kind of movement I’m doing for my daily cardio (for me this means at least 30 minutes of continuous movement). I’m really curious to see how this turns out.

One of the reasons I wanted to try a mood tracker this month is because I’m not great at being mindful about how I’m feeling. I’m hoping this will force me to stop and think about it at least once a day. I suspect I’ll feel better on days I move more, but who knows. Maybe I won’t. It will be interesting to find out.

The final new thing I’m trying this month is this reference page just before I start my daily pages where I can do some meal planning and write down admin tasks that need to get done but that I don’t want to add to my daily log for whatever reason.

I have these little post it flags that happen to be almost exactly 3×10 squares. So, I made a week and then started writing some of our regular meals on the flags. This way I can move them around and re-use them throughout the month. The lime colored ones will be crockpot recipes and the blue ones will be for everything else. That way if I know I need a crockpot recipe on a certain day (because I won’t be home until late, for example), I can see at a glance that I’ve got myself covered. I’m hoping this will also help me stay on top of groceries for the week.

And that’s it. That’s my set up for January. I don’t like using weekly spreads. I keep trying them and then hating them for a variety of reasons. I like the flexibility and the focus of daily logs. So, that’s what I’m sticking with for January. I definitely lean more towards the traditional bullet journal method rather than the “instagram friendly” bullet journaling that gets featured a lot on YouTube and elsewhere. But, if you like this sort of thing, let me know in the comments, and maybe I’ll do more posts like this.