Three Little Words

If only I could make his mouth move and make what I wanted to say come out. But, what would He/I say?

If only I could make his mouth move and make what I wanted to say come out. But, what would He/I say?

We—I—joke how my husband, Curtis, has a set allotment of spoken words at his disposal each month, so he doles them out sparingly. It’s how I explain his silences. Everyone laughs when I say it. But, now, the laugh seems to be on me…

I’ve recently come to the long-delayed realization that, like Curtis, I must have a set allotment of words at my disposal, too. But…while Curtis’s is a monthly quota, mine is a DAILY quota. And, while, to my knowledge, his quota is only on spoken words, mine is on written words.

My writer friend Marty, gave a talk, recently, about Chaos. She noted how, in picture books, chaos is triggered by someone or something breaking a rule. For me, rather than chaos ensuing it’s blah-blah blah blah blah blah bluckkkkkk

Unlike Curtis, it’s not my words—written or otherwise—that run out. It’s my ability to use them creatively. I have this newly adopted Bullet Journal to thank for the realization.  

My last Fishbowl post, “Shot Myself in the Foot with a Bullet Journal, chronicled prats and pitfalls I encountered while undertaking to begin Bullet Journaling. Now a one-month veteran of the process, I have come up with a system that works for me. And some Don’ts (Or Donuts if you prefer):



  1. Donut #1 Do not Spend Too Much Time on It
  2. Donut #2 Do Not Try to Make it Look Pretty or Neat
  3. Donut #3 (with sprinkles): Do Not Write too Much

The realization that I was wasting precious words by writing too much of the wrong things too early in the day came about expressly because of this bullet journal.

Don't get me wrong. Bullet Journaling is fab-u-lous! This past month’s Bullet Journaling has done exactly what it is intended to do. It has:

  1. Helped me prioritize tasks and keep track of to-dos
  2. Provided a space to keep all those lists & notes (i.e. movies to see, books to read, things to fix, notes to write, passwords that I think I will only need once, misc.)

And, maybe most importantly of all, made me keenly aware of why I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write: CREATIVELY!

BTW: My sole purpose in writing this post on The Fishbowl now is as a caution to you, Dear Cherished Reader.

On Leap Day, as per the official Bullet Journal instructions, I reviewed my February monthly and daily task lists. What I realized was that each daily list had 3 or more tasks that required writing—and I was doing them before I got around to what I wanted, really, truly, wanted to be doing: creative writing.

Since all those other Bullet-Journal aficionados share theirs, here's mine.

Since all those other Bullet-Journal aficionados share theirs, here's mine.

These included:

  • ·         Bullet-Journal updates of yearly, monthly, daily task-lists
  • ·         Free writing (to clear the cobwebs)
  • ·         E-mail check and response
  • ·         Word-play exercises
  • ·         Facebook post on my author page
  • ·         Calendar update on my website

This past week, in response to an interview invitation from writer/musician/blogger David Alan Binder, I have been answering questions.(He sent a list of about 40.) Yesterday I stopped at this one, “What do you do when you are not writing?” (Clearly intending that in this context "writing" referred to "written-in-hopes-of-publication writing)

Yes, Curtis and I (with help from friends) glued all those beads, feathers and bling onto our Trini Devil & Angel costumes.

Yes, Curtis and I (with help from friends) glued all those beads, feathers and bling onto our Trini Devil & Angel costumes.

Part of me--the uncensored part, wanted to respond: “Glue beads and feathers onto costumes & parade through Port of Spain limin’ and whinin’.

Or turn on my Jack Nicholson’s Col. Nathan R. Jessup

                               “You want the truth? . . . YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.”

Because truly, what kind of "professional writer" would David and his readers think I was if, in response to his next question: “What are you currently writing?” I sent the above list?

Having written the above—and hyper-aware that I have used 628 of my precious daily quota (not counting deletions and revisions) to do so . . . 

Also keenly aware that because, in this post I discuss my mis-use of creative energy I prefer saving for "writing," some of you have already Fooled Yourselves into thinking this post doesn't apply to you. Yoo-hoo: Creative energy is "energy for creating, being creative, making, doing _Fill-in-the-blank_  

. . . I just want to say:

If you decide to create a Bullet Journal (or any variation on a task list). . . 

And If you prioritize the items on said list. . . . 

Do not do as I did and prioritize them in terms of “importance” to others, or with an eye to crossing-off-as-many-items-as-possible-because-it-feels-good. Prioritize them in terms of “important” to you! 


  1. Select for Creativity. Use your creative energy to create—don’t waste it on trivial/menial tasks

  2. Select for Joy. Be sure to put tasks that bring you joy at the top of the list

(Note to readers: As of March 1, Bullet Journal Task Lists will be made the night before, email and responses, posting on Facebook, etc. will be written in my down time. If this results in a lack of liveliness in above-mentioned writing, I apologize in advance.)

Word Counts Playlist:

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Shot Myself in the Foot with a Bullet Journal

You and I have often talked about how to maintain goals we set. And those we don’t keep…

Click on the journal for a peek at so many images of Bullet Journal pages...

Click on the journal for a peek at so many images of Bullet Journal pages...

 This month—beginning Monday, Feb. 1stI pledged to begin an intensive picture book study, committing to at least 5 hours a day studying/reading/writing picture books. I’ve “pledged” before, but life…especially “important” family and work commitments keep getting in the way. Sound familiar?

This study commitment will require fortitude and organization. A writer friend of mine, Cindy Faughnan, recently set herself up with a Bullet Journal. A tuck it into your purse or pocket paper-pen-ink-no-battery-required journal. In support, she sent me a link to a basic How-To Bullet Journal U-tube video. Here's the link: The Analog System in the Digital Age.

After viewing, I bought my journal—bright pink—selected “the” pen, and following the step-by-step instructions, began setting up my journal. But I had a few questions…  

Turns out this Bullet Journal video is not a one-off; it’s part of a cult-er…craze…er website. There's a library! A Blog! A Store!!!! And slews of videos featuring other bullet journal aficionados showing & explaining their particular journaling styles. Too many . . . 

My excitement over this simple little system turned to angst.

  • Was I numbering correctly?
  • Bulleting, dashing, circling, arrowing appropriately?
  • Were my squares large enough?
  • Too large?
  • Should I color code it? Is that twee? Or just one pen? If one, which?
  • Should I write my goals on the front cover or first page?
  • Should my Future Log go across or down?
  • Should I copy a calendar and tape it in. Or create my own.
  • How many pages would I need for my monthly/daily task lists?...
  • How many other pages—books, movies, words, ideas, goals, writing project, house projects…what am I forgetting?
  • What if I mess it up?!!

                         I can not have an ugly Bullet Journal…

 After ripping out and starting over a few times,  I quit. I had to. My Bullet Journal was on the verge of being pageless.

BTW: This study includes returning to writing Morning Pages ala Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way.  Here's a link to a video explaining Cameron's Morning Pages.

 Feb. 3. was a dark day. I woke worrying about how I was going to continue my planned picture book intensive study if I couldn’t even manage a Bullet Journal?  

In the wee hours before morning I laid in bed driving myself crazy thinking about this Bullet Journal and all the other to-dos on my list, when It dawned on me how instead of mentally agonizing, I could agonize on the page and thus at least accomplish something…my Morning Pages!

Trouble was, I couldn't find any paper on which to write my Morning Pages. The last notebook I'd used to write Morning Pages was full. And I couldn’t find another one…anywhere. Was I destined to fail at this, too??

I’ve often thought these Morning Pages should be called Mourning Pages,’re saying farewell to life as you knew it.
— Julia Cameron on how morning pages should we whinny, petty, grumpy...

Then something one of the gals in one of those “Let Me Show You MY Bullet Journal” videos popped into my head. She’d been sharing how she had refashioned her weekly task list from the previous year and then, after all that work, said: “I’m going to try it. If I don’t like it, I’ll do something else next month…”

  Hallauah!!! (Que the Choir!)

 This is MY Journal. There was no rule saying it could “only” be a Bullet Journal... Or that it had “last” for a year... Or more than a month…Or be pretty...  

There was only one rule: If it’s going to work, it has to work for me.

I flipped half-way back and begin my morning pages there.  Done.

. . . Minor problem. The page number? (Every Bullet Journal has an index to each section.)

Click on the pic to see more

Click on the pic to see more

Very handy, but . . . Should I count all the pages so I could number the page about half-way back, I’d designated Morning Pages 1? Or write my darn Morning Pages?

 I made the tough decision: I stuck a post-it sticky on the first Morning Page—so I could find the spot again, took a breath and especially pleased to know that everything I needed to begin my days—my new Bullet Journal, pen, stick-notes & designated Morning Pages pages all in one tidy book—I began to write…

 If you’ve stuck with me through this entire post, I have no doubt you’re thinking—boring… tedious...if this is the worst of her worries… What a waste… a waste of time…hers and mine.

It’s tedious for me, too. That’s my whole point.

 Agonizing, doubt, questioning, beating myself up, aka “worry” is, in the words of Ben Franklin “Interest paid on trouble before it is due.” 

 But, “worry” is what I do.  If I'm going to play, I have to payfirst. That's how I roll. I have to circle before I can begin anew.  I have to get to that place where I am willing to allow myself to tear out a few pages, let go, make mistakes. Only then can I find my way in. This time, it was creating new routine. Next time, it will be something else…

 Trust in the Process. (I’m writing that in my Bullet Journal.)

...On a new page, that I'll number, and add to the index, so I can turn to it easily P.R.N.