Bullet journaling started as a simple organization and productivity tool. But, it has evolved into a massive creative community, which can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are 5 tips for every bullet journal newbie.
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Every day there are hundreds, if not thousands of people joining the bullet journal community. And what those people are seeing is not what I saw when I first started. Now, there are beautiful, artwork spreads plastered all over Instagram and Pinterest. There are collection pages be thought up all the time. It’s wonderful and I am constantly in awe of the talent in this community. But, for the beginner, it can be overwhelming.
So, in an attempt to make bullet journaling less intimidating, I wanted to share five tips that I believe could change your perspective. Remember, bullet journaling isn’t ALL about having a beautiful and perfect journal. It’s a place to plan, organize, and track the important events and goals in your life. But, that’s not to say that I am disregarding the importance of creativity.
The bullet journal system has allowed me and many others to embrace our creativity and find new ways to relax. Creativity is not meant to be pressuring. It should be fun and done without expectations. Easier said than done, I realize. So, instead of telling you to suck it up and keep practicing, I have some useful tips to get you where you want to be.
5 Tips for the Bullet Journal Newbie
1). Don’t Buy ALL the Supplies
Having a wide variety of supplies won’t make you any better at doodling or brush lettering. It will drain your wallet and leave you with tools you rarely use. Trust me. This is first-hand knowledge. But, buying the RIGHT supplies can help you get closer to your goals.
Instead of buying every pen or highlighter you see some Insta-famous person using, find what works for you. Just because someone else uses Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens doesn’t mean that they will fit comfortably in your hand. Maybe you won’t even enjoy writing with a fineliner pen.
Take your notebook to your local craft store, like Michael’s, Joanne’s, Hobby Lobby, etc. and try out some different pens on one of the back pages. Write words, not just scribbles. Try doodling. These exercises will help you find what fits best in your hand and what feels most natural to write with. Your pen should feel like an extension of your arm– I’m starting to sound like an art teacher. But, truly, part of being successful in your journal is finding writing tools that you love.
2). Find Your Style/Inspiration
This tip takes time and won’t happen overnight. But, once you have found your style, it’s a lot easier to work on perfecting your skills. So, for instance, if you really enjoy drawing florals and want to incorporate them into your journal, you may pick up the book, How to Draw Modern Florals or enroll in a free course on Skillshare. Or maybe you prefer a minimalist design and really want to focus in on perfecting your serif and sans-serif lettering.
To find your style, you’ll have to do some trial and error. Try out different designs. Decide how much time you want to be dedicating to your journal, and be realistic with how much time you can dedicate to it. Then, look on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. I have an entire Pinterest board for bullet journal inspiration with nothing but pictures of spreads, here.
3). Laze Around with YouTube
How many productivity coaches are going to tell you that? Not very many. But, there is a huge selection of free information on YouTube. From drawing cute headers to florals, lettering, and simple doodles. Spend 15-20 minutes here and there watching and following along with these videos. Often times, a video will be a better guide than a blog post or a book.
For some quick suggestion, I highly recommend the following accounts:
- AmandaRachLee: Amanda probably has one of the largest bullet journal centered accounts on YouTube, and for a good reason. She is very talented and has a great personality and teaching style. Plus, her videos are high quality and easy to watch.
- Erin Elissa: (yeah, that’s me and I’m self-promoting). While my YouTube channel is still realtively new, I am working on putting out new material as often as I can.
- ChristineMyLinh: Christine’s videos are beautiful. She has a soft and inviting voice, and definitely attempts to cater to all skill levels with her videos.
- Loveleigh Loops: I had the chance to work with Jillian and Jordan briefly and go through one of their brush lettering courses. They are incredibly talented at calligraphy and modern brush lettering. And they truly know how to instruct in a non-intimidating manner.
- Doodles by Sarah: Want the best in doodling? Sarah is kind of like my role model. Her doodles are adorable and she does a lot of simple designs that are easy to follow along with and gain inspiration from.
4). Trace Doodles and Lettering
Yes, my friend! There is no shame in tracing. For a long time, when I first started I traced over brush lettered words I created and printed from a Word document. I did the same with simple doodles.
If you were going into a gym for the first time and wanting to squat, you wouldn’t try to just squat 350lbs. on your first go, right? Well, I hope not. You might start with just the bar, which weighs 45lbs. This may seem small and insignificant, but it’s a great starting point to work your way up to heavier weights. This all related to the tracing tip. You can’t just jump into a detailed drawing or complex lettering style without trying the simpler version first.
So, find images or make words in a Word document, print them out, lay them under the page of you journal, and trace them. If you can’t see the page through your journal paper, try the transfer method. This is where you scribble graphite pencil all over the back of the image you want to trace. Then you lay it down over your journal page and using a ballpoint pen, trace over the lines. When you’ve finished, you can lift the page and the graphite will have transferred to your bullet journal.
5). Commit to One Project
At the time of writing this post, the #100DayProject is currently going on. The idea behind this is to pick one project and do it every day for 100 days. At the end, you’ll have established a new habit and surely improved your skill in your particular project. While 100 days may seem a bit daunting right now, you can always start with a shorter time frame. Say, two weeks. And for each day during that two week span you do one small project to work towards a specific skill.
This skill could be in brush lettering, print handwriting, cursive, doodling, floral drawings, banners, headers, etc. You can make your topic as broad or as narrow as you want. The big secret is that you have to make this task a priority. If you want to improve you skills and get better at a specific subject, you are going to have to commit that time.
The good news is that this is fun way to broaden your knowledge on a topic and explore ideas that you haven’t previously tried. For my project, I’m doing 100 days of floral drawings. I’m doing both realistic and doodle style florals. Already, I’m having to push myself to try things that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise.
Are you a bullet journal newbie? Do you want to fast-track you creativity? I created an e-course called Rock Your Journal. This course was designed with the beginner in mind. Every doodle and lettering style taught in the course is done in a step-by-step video format. You’ll also gain confidence with a lesson in confidence building, and inspiration for collection pages. There are over 400 raving students already enrolled and rocking their journals.
You can enroll with a 20% discount now with code: BLOG20. You’ll get instant access to over 3 hours of video content, an interactive, printable workbook, and a Facebook community of supportive and encouraging peers. Plus, there’s over 7 hours of extra video lesson available inside the Facebook group. And I do a Live Tutorial in there often to help you continue on your journey, even after you have finished the course.
Want access to all of my Free Printables in the VIP Resource Library? You can sign up here and get instant access.