I tried a binder bullet journal, here’s how it went

Over the holidays, I realized I was coming close to the end of my bullet journal. Part of me wanted to jump right online and order myself a fancy new one to start 2022 off right. The other part of me realized it was the holiday season, and money was tight. 

I’d purchased a three-ring binder and some paper to fill it some time ago from Russell+Hazel. So, I thought maybe I’d try a little experiment. I decided to set up my bullet journal in that instead.

At the time, this felt revolutionary. Why don’t more people do their bullet journals in a binder? 

After a month, I went onto the Archer & Olive site and ordered some notebooks during their Black Friday sale. I’m in one of those now. 

I wanted to take you through some of the reasons I liked the binder bullet journal, and the reasons I went back to the traditional book format. Maybe this is a system that will work for you.

What I loved

The first thing that I loved about the binder bullet journal was the flexibility of it. I could take pages out, move them around. I could add or remove things as needed. If I decided I didn’t like a page layout, as I often do because I’m indecisive, I could simply remove it. If I had a long shopping list, I could add another page.

I also loved the ability to throw just anything in there. I was limited only by my three-hole punch. I was throwing in cookie recipes, envelopes, all sorts of things. That was a lot of fun. 

Having a binder bullet journal is also a lot cheaper. At least for me, it was. My Russell+Hazel setup was $17 for the binder, $7 for a pack of paper. Archer & Olive notebooks average around $30. So you’re saving quite a bit of money.

Of course, always keep in mind that you can bullet journal just as well in a dollar store notebook and with cheap pens. That’s exactly how I started, with a marble composition notebook. 

Alright, so if it’s cheaper, more efficient, and more flexible, why didn’t I keep at it? Honestly, there’s a part of my brain asking why I don’t switch back right now. And I could. It’s not like I got rid of my binder or anything. 

Well, first off, I’ve already converted it to take notes for my nonfiction novel. But the real reasons are below.

What I didn’t love

The first reason is purely an aesthetic issue. I couldn’t find a quality paper that I enjoyed using that fit into my binder. 

It wasn’t a dot grid. It wasn’t thick enough to hold paint. If I wasn’t careful, I was apt to rip pages out.

It was also a pain finding paper that fit in the thing. As I soon found out, three-ring binder refills almost always have to be bought from the same company that you got the binder from. Unless you’ve got a traditional school-sized one. And that’s no fun to lug around.

The biggest reason I went back to a more traditional bullet journal, though, is this. The binder didn’t feel like as much of a keepsake. 

I love bullet journaling because it keeps my many projects and responsibilities manageable. But there’s also a big memory-keeping component. I can look back in my bullet journals and see when I was going on vacation, what I was working on, what I was loving. Each month I keep a page full of memories, big and small. I doodle and draw all through the thing. I write down little notes about the day. I keep movie stubs, tickets, little mementos tucked into the pages. Every bullet journal is half organization, half time capsule.

Somehow, a box full of loose paper didn’t feel like it would be as nostalgic as a row full of beautiful, hardcover books. 

In summary, maybe converting to a binder bullet journal is perfect for you. Or maybe you, like me, will keep to the traditional method. That’s why bullet journaling works so well for so many people. It is entirely up to you what your bullet journal setup looks like. 

This is not a sponsored post. There are no links to any companies on here, nor do I get paid by any such companies. If you would like to support Paper Beats World, you can do so on Ko-fi.

I took December off. Here’s how it improved my writing.

Today’s beautiful artwork is by Skywalter. Check him out here.

December is usually a constant juggling act. The holidays bring with family obligations, along with the crippling need to feel like we’re doing something festive. And despite all of that, work doesn’t feel the need to slow down all that much. 

So, to take some pressure off of myself, I decided to take December off from writing. 

This took some doing. I had to write and schedule blog posts and reviews for both PBW and Haunted. But after I got those wrapped up, I was free to pursue whatever I wanted to pursue through the rest of the month. 

This may sound indulgent, and in a way it was. But it was also something I feel like I needed to do to be a better artist. And I wasn’t wrong. 

Here are five ways taking a month off made me a better writer.

Rest is always a good idea

This can be hard for me in my little go get ‘em brain. But taking breaks is essential, even in creative endeavors. 

Yes, writing is my life. But when writing is also my job, that puts on pressure to perform at a certain level. A level that I can’t always maintain. 

But when I allow myself to rest, I can reach that higher level more frequently. 

Time to read

Stephen King famously said that to be a good writer you need to do two things. Read a lot and write a lot. 

Alright, cool. Way easier said than done. Usually, if I get twenty minutes in a day to read, I’m doing pretty good.

But when I take writing off my to-do list, then that opens up time to read. And I read a ton in December. Mostly holiday books. I just filled my mind with the works of other authors. And that’s exactly what I needed

Time to write for fun

I’ve talked before about the importance of writing for yourself. Writing not to produce, or to share with the outside world. Just writing for you. And while it’s great, it’s another thing that takes a backseat to writing as a job. It was nice to just sit at my desk and write with no pressure, no plans for what I was going to do with this piece. Just have fun on the page.

As a bonus, this is something I’m trying to encourage more of when I’m writing a rough draft. Both for my own joy, and to increase the quality of my work. It was great to practice that for a whole month. 

Time to experience life

We are not unending wells. We cannot keep putting out work and words if we do not take something in. 

We take things in by experiencing our lives. And the holidays are the perfect time to do that. Try new things, go on fun outings, celebrate with your loved ones. All of these experiences feed into your writing because they expand your experiences. 

Time to learn 

Finally, I was able to take some of my downtime and focus on learning. There are lots of things I want to learn, that I often have a hard time finding the time for. So having this extra time to spend on Spanish, tarot cards and writing studies was a Godsend. I hope I can keep up with these studies as I’m getting back into the flow of writing this month. To be honest, it’s been a struggle so far. But I think I can do it.

All that being said, I likely won’t take a whole month off in 2022. I’ll probably take two weeks, though. And likely a few weeks off in the Summer. 

Spending time away from your work just makes you stronger when you return to the page. Don’t be afraid to take that time. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love for me. If you’d like to support this site, you can do so on Ko-fi. 

My 2022 goals and how I made them

We’ve reached another year, so it’s time to start making some goals. As you know, I don’t do resolutions. I think they’re unhealthy and unrealistic. That doesn’t mean that I don’t take the new year as an opportunity to make some goals. 

Goals are important for everyone, either big or small. And if you’ll recall, in August I committed myself to make better art. This made choosing my word of the year easy.

My word for 2022 is care. 

I want to care more for myself. I want to care more for my husband and my family of fur babies. I want to care more about my art. I want to care more about my fellow man. 

Step one of goal-making is to choose your word of the year.

Choosing a word of the year helps to guide everything else. That’s what the word care is doing for me. If I’m to care more about things, I have to lower the things on my plate. We just cannot commit ourselves to everything. I kept this strongly in mind as I made my goals. When I make too many goals, I become too frantic to get anything done. Or, I get things done but not done as well as they could be.

 So step two of goal making is to be realistic about what you can do, not idealistic.

Next, I make a huge list of all the things I’d like to do. That list is stupidly long and unrealistic. But that’s okay, I’m just brainstorming.

After that, I separate my goals into personal, family, and professional. I tell myself I can only have three goals for each of those categories, nine goals total. This means I’ve got to decide what I care about most. What matters most. After a lot of crossing out, considering, and soul searching, here are my goals for 2022.


Read the entire Bible.

Reach my Goodreads goal of 42 books.

Take 24 Masterclasses. 


Build our emergency fund. 

Plan a Covid safe vacation.

Get the darling husband’s health back on track


Join SFWA.

Make plans to attend a writing con.

Make progress on the two novels I’m working on. 

Now, I have a bunch of other projects I’m going to be working on this year. I want to get out new seasons of Off The Bone and AA. I want to start two brand new podcasts. I want to practice mindful eating, join a proper coven, and about a thousand other things. 

But so long as I get those top nine goals accomplished, this year has been a total win. Everything else is just icing. Though I will say, I love icing. 

So what are your goals for 2022? Let us know in the comments so we can cheer each other on. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love for me. If you find value in the work I do, please consider supporting the site on Ko-fi. 

Don’t Look Up, (not) A Review

Don’t Look Up is a movie that’s been getting a lot of flack. Written by David Sirota and Adam McKay, this dark comedy has been panned by critics and reviewers all over the place. 

If you saw the movie as I did, then read the reviews, as I did, you might have gotten a chuckle from them. Because I swear, they might have come right out of the film. It’s almost like the writers knew exactly what they were talking about. It’s almost, almost like they wanted to hold a mirror up to America in the desperate hope that we might see exactly how stupid and suicidal we’re all being. 

This isn’t a review of the movie. Yes, you should watch it because it’s funny. But you should also watch it because it’s honest. 

The premise of the movie is simple. A comet is going to hit Earth in six months and kill everyone. Two scientists, named Randall and Kate, discover it and try to warn the president. But things get complicated fast. The president, played by the historically amazing Meryl Streep, doesn’t care to do anything about the comet. Until it hurts her politically.

So let’s talk about climate change. 

At this point, I assume most of the people reading this are pretty liberal-minded. So I’m going to talk to you the way I need to be talked to.

We have got to stop being performative and start insisting upon real changes. 

What do I mean by this? I mean attack campaigns against people using plastic straws. I mean believing that buying less plastic on a personal scale is going to save the penguins. I mean posting Instagram pics of the sweet new reusable paper towels you bought. (They’re called washcloths.) All of these things are the product of marketing campaigns intended to prey upon our good intentions. And they do not do a damned thing. 

We don’t do these things because we’re bad people. We do them because they feel like action. Because they feel like something we can control. And the people who are responsible for boiling our seas and burning our forests laugh at us while we do it.

Do you know what’s going to help fight climate change? Electing people into power who are going to fight for real, sweeping changes right now. Protesting companies who pollute our world. Protesting politicians who write laws that let them. Shutting down fossil fuels right now, not in five years. We need to vote. We need to run for offices. We need to educate ourselves about who’s doing the damage. And we need to make it clear who those people are. Call them out on social media. Say their names. Educate others.

While we talk about climate change, let me be clear about who I am and where I come from. I’m from Western Pennsylvania. There’s a lot of coal here. And a lot of fracking here, too. When I say we need to do something about climate change, I understand what this will mean for my community. My neighborhood, my beloved hometown. I’ve compared my town to a racist uncle that never forgets my birthday. I love it and hate it at the same time. But I need to be clear about this. I care about this place. I care about the people who live here. I don’t want them to lose their jobs, their livelihoods, their homes. Trust me, enough broken souls are haunting this place already. I am fully aware that shutting down fossil fuels might very well mean the death of my hometown.

But here’s the choice we’ve got, folks. We can do what is needed to stop climate change, and we can do it right God damned now. Or we can suffer the consequences. And I do mean we

Not our grandchildren. Not our children. We are dealing with rising temperatures right now. You don’t have to believe me. Believe your own eyes. Believe what you can see right in front of you. 

Just look up. 

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