When I first started bullet journaling, I wrote everything (and I mean everything) in pencil because I was afraid of mistakes. It was always my intention to go back over everything with pen later on, but it involved too much time that I didn’t have and I found myself never actually doing it. I didn’t like the way pencil looked and I already had so many mistakes setting up my future log and other aspects of my bullet journal, that I forced myself to switch from pencil to pen one day with the mindset that mistakes do happen and when they do, I’ll tackle them the best I can.
This spread was from October 2 and October 3 (almost a month into bullet journaling) and I was still writing in pencil. I’d go over some things in color, but it was all time permitting. Most days I didn’t really have time to go back and trace over all the pencil, so the first few months of my bullet journal are in pencil with sporadic pen tracings and color splashes.
Mistakes do happen because we’re not perfect and as one of my friends told me, they give our bullet journals character. Day Nine of the #PlanWithMeChallenge was about showing off the mistakes we make in our bullet journal, so in addition to the post you’ll find over on Instagram, I wanted to share some of the mistakes I’ve made in my bullet journal post pencil writing.
Back when I was still in my first bullet journal (a black A5 dotted Moleskine) if I messed up a spread too badly, I’d just rip the pages out. I didn’t really follow too many other bullet journalists and I was still discovering bullet journal websites, so I was at a loss for what to do when mistakes happened. Sometimes, just scribbling over a misspelled word or slapping some white out on top of a stray line or two worked, but other times (like when I was doing my monthly habit tracker or weekly spread) when there was too much white out on the page it led me to just ripping out the entire page and throwing it away. This was so easy to do in my Moleskine because unlike a Leuchtturm, the pages aren’t numbered. I usually numbered my pages as I filled them and on the occasion that I did pre-number, it was easy to just renumber the pages. (As you probably saw from the first post, numbering did me no good as that bullet journal got wet in my bag and most of the page numbers smeared off anyway). I haven’t ripped a page out since I started in my Leuchtturm* because since the journal is pre-numbered, it would bother me if my page numbers were off.
*Okay, that’s a small lie. I have ripped three pages out of my Leuchhturm but a couple of things with that – it was just recently (Friday, actually), it wasn’t because of a mistake, and the last 20 pagers or so are perforated and made for ripping out. I was writing a friend a note and my only options were either the perforated pages of my bullet journal or a yellow legal pad in which the ink of my fountain pen wouldn’t show up, so I opted for sacrificing three pages. (This friend should feel special, because this is actually the second time I’ve ripped out pages from a bullet journal to leave a note.)
Even though I did it in my Moleskine, I would NOT advise this as a method of fixing your mistake, even if you think they are beyond repair. If you use a Leuchtturm or pre-number your pages, they’ll be off if you rip out a page. I also found that in my Moleskine when I ripped out a page, it almost never ripped cleanly. Sometimes it would take off some of the page next to it or, since it was bound, the page it corresponded with (sometimes 20 to 30 pages later) would fall out. In one instance I had to tape in a page of my Spending Tracker spread because it had fallen out after I ripped something out several pages before it. If your mistake is bad enough to have you considering ripping out the page, a few ways to save it include: covering it up with a sheet of printer paper and either decorate the paper or put what you were going to put in your journal on the paper (I have an example of this a little further down), print out a coloring page and paste it over the mistake (you can play with your printer settings to print a scaled down A5 version to fit nicely in your bullet journal), find something you like to paste over it (newspaper articles, a recipe, really anything), or if you’re a Boho Berry Tribe member, Kara has some great printables in the Tribe Resource Library including coloring pages and a mandala starter that would turn any mistake into a beautiful work of art.
This is actually one of my favorite mistakes I’ve made in my current bullet journal. In my last post, I talked about handlettering a number of things to help me through a rough week. This was the original spread for the lyrics from “Fly Away,” but as you can see, I drew a blank and forgot how to spell “than.” Originally, I was going to rewrite the whole lyric on a piece of printer paper and paste it over the top of this but before I even started that, I took a picture of the mistake and sent it to one of my good friends (who is a fellow bullet journalist, so she understands the struggle!). She was the one that suggested, “It’s gonna take more than damn handlettering” and it was perfect. (This is the same friend that told me mistakes give our bullet journals character). Instead of pasting over this and hiding it, I took her suggestion and now this is one of my favorite mistakes I’ve made. Those who have looked up how to improve your handwriting know the only way to do so is to practice, practice, practice so this fits. It also reminds me of my friend every time I see it.
Another way that I’ve covered up mistakes (especially if it’s a really big one or takes up a lot of my page) is to either print something out or paste a blank sheet of paper over it, which is what I’ve done here. I’m not sure what the mistake was (I think I messed up a word) in lettering “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga, but I just pulled this verse and put it on blank paper before pasting it over what I already had written. You can still kind of see the original words peeking up from the upper corner of this page and you can still see them from underneath the page but it does its job well enough. Other things I’ve pasted over past mistakes include coloring pages (you can find almost any type of coloring page if you Google it!), mandala skeletons (that turn into full blown mandalas) and coloring pages from Boho Berry, and beautiful quotes. You can print down anything you find online at a scaled down A5 version and trim it to fit in your bullet journal!
Above is a gallery of some of the other mistakes I’ve made in various spreads of my bullet journal. You can click each thumbnail to see a larger version of the image and see some of the other ways I deal with mistakes when they happen. Some of those methods include: white out (depending on the size of the mistake), scribbling over mistakes (also depending on the size of the mistake and what it is), drawing arrows for things that I place in the wrong spot (you’ll notice this a lot in my habit tracker and Calendex – in the top right image, I have a friend whose birthday is on February 20th and I shaded the 19th on accident. Instead of shading another box on February 20, I just drew an arrow pointing down.), just embracing things and letting them be while also making fun of myself (bottom left and center images… One I accidentally logged my coffee purchase in my fuel tracker – I’m technically not wrong since coffee is my fuel but also not where it belongs – and one I wrote the wrong date – which happens especially a lot with Tuesday and Thursday when I write my days in German for some reason.), or just straight up putting an ‘x’ through things like I did in my habit tracker (in this case I either didn’t do something or shaded the wrong date or box and couldn’t fit an arrow to indicate where I wanted the box to move).
What are you some of your mistakes or favorite ways to embrace them?