Writing Resource Roundup: Playlists

I love background music when I’m writing. I curate playlists for my projects that I listen to exclusively while I write. Currently, I have two playlists (one for The Pilgrimage and one for a contemporary WIP) using my own music library. The music in them relates back to the projects in some way, whether it’s lyrics, ambience, or a general “vibe” to the song.

I most often use instrumental music for my writing playlists and background noise, since I write more fantasy than any other genre. Video game and film scores are my go-to for picking out mood music in fantasy scenes. However, I’m always thinking of contemporary stories when there’s a really, really good song that comes on!

I only recently started using Spotify, but I know lots of other writers put their playlists on there. I jumped on the bandwagon and made a playlist for THE PILGRIMAGE and a playlist for my CLAMS contemporary project. One thing I’ve enjoyed with Spotify is the ability to find artists and bands that are new to me. Since it’s not the same as a local radio station (and has, I’d say, fewer ads), I can explore music a lot more easily.

I also use YouTube a lot for background music, though I go with a “chillstep” kind of vibe. They’re remixed songs with a strong beat, but not a lot of accompanying harmony and melody. Two of the channels I’ve liked recently are ChilloutDeer and Pulse8 (though with Pulse8, I’ve listened to so many of the mixes that I’m hearing repeated songs more often than not). These have the benefit of being for a set amount of time. I’ll tell myself that I’ll work for the length of the mix I select, which is about an hour, and see how I feel after that!

In my brief exploring of Spotify, I found some great playlists and channels that instantly put me into a writing mood. Browsing the “Mood” section of Spotify might lead you down a road of getting too distracted by the music, but if you can find a good station or playlist, that can help you focus on your writing again. Here, I’ve selected 6 playlists that stuck a writing motivation in me.

(Disclaimer: Since I didn’t compile together the music and can’t guarantee the songs will be the same in the future, there is a bit of hit-or-miss when it comes to how you’ll enjoy the compilations.)


This playlist is similar to the YouTube playlists above, with the heavier beats and more remixed vibes.

Ambient Chill

Another playlist for chilling out, though this one is a lot softer and easier than the beat-heavy tunes I’ve already linked.

Classical Music For Reading

This playlist with classical music (from the greats like Mozart to some newer classical composers) would be great for writing as well!

Cinematic Ambience album

This particular album would be good for fantasy ambience! The artist has tons of albums for different moods, film eras, and soundtracks, so check out The Film Score Orchestra for other collections of songs that might be more fitting for your story’s mood.

Your Favorite Coffeehouse

This playlist would be perfect for writing contemporary stories, poetry, fluffy romance! It’s also a sweet and easy vibe for easy listening outside of writing. (I really like this one.)

You & Me

This is a playlist that I think would be nice for soft romances, though maybe not “fluffy” ones. There’s a bittersweet quality to it that I enjoy.

Not everyone can write with background noise, so if that’s you, consider these playlists as sources of inspiration for when you do get to your writing!

Music is an incredible medium for creativity, whether you make visual art or written art. All art begets more art, so I’m a hardcore advocate for experiencing them together. After all, my stories wouldn’t be written the way they are if it weren’t for the music I listened to while writing them.

If you listen to music while you write, do you make playlists for your writing projects? (Whether or not they’re on Spotify, doesn’t matter!)

My 5 Favourite Bullet Journal Trackers

Although trackers aren’t part of the original system developed for the bullet journal, they’ve become a popular collection among bujo junkies like myself. And for a good reason! They’re handy and contain information in charts that are readily accessible.

Here are five of my favourite trackers that I’ve used at some point in my bullet journalling.

1. Mood Tracker

One of my mental wellness goals from last year was to be more mindful and aware of myself. I started doing that by using mood trackers in my bullet journal. I’ve used a few arrangements, but I love my current set-up for July where I track my moods as they progress through the morning, afternoon, and evening. I’ve also tracked my moods based on a generalisation of the day overall. Having different colours for different moods and emotions will help decorate the spread, too! I like using a rainbow of some sort, so the reds and purples show my more “extreme” emotions (like depression and restlessness). I’ve also incorporated art, like the geode mood tracker, to shake things up!

2. Symptom Tracker

In line with my mental health, I have a tracker for symptoms of my mental illness and side effects of medication! I’ve only use it for two weeks now, and I need to tweak it for the second month of my medication. However, I think after I make changes, I’ll be able to better track my symptoms. I keep a journal alongside tracking my symptoms, so I have more details kept in a separate book, instead of my planner. I think I need a better colour coding system or key to improve the way I keep track of the information, since the current setup isn’t enough for me.

3. Sleep Tracker

When I started tracking my sleep—when I’d fall asleep, when I’d wake up, any naps I had—I noticed that I have awful sleep. My sleeping schedule (or lack thereof) was one of the key components in getting help for my health, and helped my doctor navigate medication a bit better. Alongside bettering my health, I can also see how many hours of sleep I get, so if I have an unproductive or productive day, I can check if my sleep impacted that activity.

4. Habit Tracker

I used to track habits by month, but switched to individual weeks when I started using weekly layouts more often. It’s less of a “habit” thing at that point, and more of a “daily task” thing, but they’re still relevant to keep track of! I find one spot for tracking is easier to write it down once than to rewrite the tasks every day. Tracking habits in a month can also be combined with tracking other monthly things, like paychecks, menstruation, and bills.

5. Bill Tracker

This was so useful when I was essentially the treasurer with room mates in university. I handled all the money for rent, water, electricity, gas, and Internet. Keeping track of bills included keeping track of:

  • the amount
  • the due date
  • the automatic withdrawal date
  • how much my room mates sent
  • the date they paid

Thankfully, we subsidised the costs of utilities by renting out our driveway, so I would also mark down any deductions to the bills. This is also useful if you have multiple properties (owning or renting), or you’re trying to budget your finances. Other aspects you can include are utility usage (the actual amount used) to see your usage habits.

Trackers can be used on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. I tracked bills through the year, and I now track moods throughout the day. How long and the timeline you use for your tracker are entirely up to you and your needs.

Trackers are one of my favourite part about the bullet journal’s flexibility. They help me be more mindful and aware of myself and what’s going on in my life—and those are two of the reasons why I started bullet journalling.

What have you tracked in your bullet journal?

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C25K Journey, Part 3

C25K Journey, Part 1| C25K Journey, Part 2

I know I’m supposed to do C25K three times a week, but the weather is not nice where I live.

Week 3

3 sessions of 28 minutes each, consisting of:

  • 5-minute warm up
  • Two 90-second runs
  • Two 90-second walks
  • Two 3-minute runs
  • Two 3-minute walks
  • 5-minute cool down
June 21: Week 2 Day 3 (repeated)/Run 7

It had been nearly 3 weeks since I last went for a run, so I repeated the last one I did to make sure I could still do it. And I could! It was nice to get out again after being sick.

Runtime: 9 minutes

June 24: Week 3 Day 1/Run 8

This run was later in the day, right before sunset, so it was a little too dark for me to be very comfortable. I did a road run instead of a trail run, and there was a large hill and the distance was more than I thought; so I did more walking than the program calls for, which is okay by me!

Runtime: 9 minutes

June 26: Week 3 Day 2/Run 9

An okay run. I think my stomach was a bit too full from dinner, since I got a side stitch in the last 1/4 of the session. This was a trail run, and it was again too close to sunset, so the paths were dim and my fear of the dark was intense.

Runtime: 9 minutes

July 3: Week 3 Day 3/Run 10

I tried to go before the weather got too hot, but unfortunately had to stop the last 90-seconds of the final 3-minute run. I wasn’t sweating properly—my skin was abnormally dry compared to how it is when I run. I was getting lightheaded and nauseated, and that’s how I knew I had to stop exerting myself so much. Overall, though? It was a pretty good session.

Runtime: 8.5 minutes

July 13: Week 3 Day 3 (repeated)/Run 11

I was so excited I got a run in! I woke up, checked the weather, and managed to get it in really quickly after getting out of bed. Breaking my fast with a granola bar, then going for a run 15 minutes later? It was do-able, but probably not the best. I loved that it was raining, though, since it kept me cool.

Runtime: 9 minutes

I think I need to put the program on hiatus until September. The temperatures just aren’t good for me to be outside running. I can get my exercise in with free weights, yoga, and at-home cardio… I hope.

Bullet Journal July Weekly Layouts

At the start of this month, I did something I normally don’t do: I drew all the weekly spreads for the month. I wanted to test out how productive I am if I just do all of the layouts in one go. When I make my monthly spreads, I have to set out a large amount of time anyway—and if a certain weekly layout design has worked, why not do it for more than one week?

Each layout has the same structure: 7 days, a sleep tracker, and 2 blank boxes. My sleep tracker also has the added function of being a good spot for me to note the time I take my medication, so I don’t forget and so I can see how it affects my sleep.

I don’t think I’ll be using the blank modules/boxes the same way each week. The first week, I had a space for notes and my meal plan and meal log. The notes section looks really messy, and I didn’t have enough space for all my meal planning. This second week, I’m keeping the notes section, and I’m adding a habit tracker again (yay~!). Another week, I might include my goals, too, but this week doesn’t.

The design will change each week depending on the washi tape and colours I use to decorate everything. I recently bought some lovely, soft, watercolour aesthetic washi tape set, and the first week featured some of the rolls. I haven’t decorated for this second week (or any of the future weeks). I want to decorate through the week, just go with the flow.

I’ll admit, I was very relieved this weekend that I didn’t have to sit and copy the last week’s layout, or come up with a new spread. I dove right into planning out my Monday and writing in other notes for the rest of the week. Based off just this first week and my reaction to the second week? I’ll probably do this again for August!

Therapy Diary: Week 1 On Medication

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

At the end of June, I saw my doctor to get referrals and support systems underway for my mental health. I haven’t seen a professional for my mental health since April 2016, and my mood and motivation were all over the place. I know that I need additional help, so seeing my doctor to get a referral to counselling or psychiatric treatment was necessary.

So, I have the counselling scheduled! Sort of. They need to do an intake appointment, which is on July 31 (far away, I know, but it’s pretty speedy for where I live), and that isn’t even like… the start of counselling. My doctor started getting referrals processed for me to see a psychiatrist for a formal diagnosis of my situation, and gave me a prescription for a low dose of medication to help me out. It has a sedative property to it, which is partly why this specific drug was prescribed: I have awful sleep problems.

It’s been 1 week since I’ve been on the meds and… I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if they’re doing much. I’ve kept a journal to record when I finish eating for the day, when I take the pill, when I feel sleepy, and when I fall asleep. I’ve discovered that the sedation effect comes into play when I take the pill on an empty stomach, or 60 – 90 minutes after eating my last meal. I’m still not getting a balanced amount of sleep—it ranges from 5 hours to 12 hours—but it’s still only the first week.

I’ll admit, I like having the routine of taking a pill at the same time every day. That’s something I liked when I had the birth control pill. Having the routine of taking my medicine, then brushing my teeth and washing my face, helps set me up for bed rather than waiting until it’s bedtime to do those things.

My period started the second day of the medication, and with how my hormones affect me, I’m unsure what’s from the medication and what’s from hormones. I normally have a very good day when my period starts (which is really weird, I know; I’m all happy-go-lucky, then oops, menses!) and am either dissociated or lethargic during my period. I have been a bit lethargic some days—as in, I’ve been sleeping more—so it probably was a combination of the medication and hormones.

Since I’m on literally the lowest dose possible of this medication, there’s also the possibility that it’s not doing anything or I’m not feeling it. I definitely felt it the first day I took it, but it’s hard to know if it’s doing anything if I’m not also experiencing side effects.

There are a lot of side effects, as there are with… anything.

One of the less common ones is experiencing symptoms of infection, such as fever, sore throat, coughing, and I started experiencing that on the 3rd. However, my brother was sick, so I could actually be sick (again!)—in any case, it’s basically gone today.

I’m hopeful that medication will help me, though, even if this one doesn’t. I’d prefer if it did, since I wouldn’t have to switch and try new ones. But I know one of the other side effects is weight gain, and I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens to me. I’ve been trying to lose weight for 4 years. I was weighed when I saw my doctor, and I was back at my highest fucking weight again. Granted, I don’t think I’m carrying as much fat as I was 4 years ago—but I’m still unhappy with my body, and how it looks and feels. I’ve managed some workouts this first week (cardio, strength training), but it’s hard to exercise when the temperature is high. I’m susceptible to heat exhaustion and need to be careful doing any exertion in the summer.

Anyway! This first week has been… okay, I guess? It’s still really early on, and I need to be aware of patterns moreso than immediate changes. I’ve also been reading a lot of forums where people talk about their experiences on this medication, and it feels like I’m in the minority. I don’t feel like a zombie, I don’t have a lot of side effects, and my mood seems fine. But I go through periods of “fine” moods, and then experience highs and lows (AKA bipolar, which is what my doctor and I suspect)—which is why I saw my doctor. I need more balance in my life, and all the yoga, jogging, meditating, journalling, and healthy eating isn’t doing enough. There’s something wrong with my brain, and the medication is for my sick head.

July 2017 Bullet Journal Spreads

Since I liked June’s layout so much, I did something very similar for July!

I started medication for my mental health just before the month started, so my biggest change is adding a symptom tracker for that.

I messed up on the calendar and did full boxes for the 7 x 6 dimensions, since I didn’t feel like using pencil and then erasing all the lines. I managed to save it with some artistic lettering and pretty new washi tape! It’s a good thing I had a short perseverance quote that I could smack into the bottom.

This month, instead of putting my goals and projects right into the journal, I’m using sticky notes so I can pull them out. They’re smaller and don’t get in the way like my notebook can, if I’m working at my desktop or my laptop. It’s been okay so far (I say, on the 3rd day into the month)—the stickiness is definitely lessening.

I have my mood tracking in the calendar, where the multiple colours are, and the legend on an index card in the front of my notebook near the key. Since the medication I’m on is specifically for moods (well, and other stuff), tracking my moods is going to be a more important part of my life. I’m glad I started doing it before the medication: it’s helped me reference highs and lows, my behaviour, and all that fun stuff to relay back to my doctor.

One other thing I did differently for July is set up all the weekly layouts in advance! That will save me time and decisions on the weekends now. I’ve enjoyed being able to use weekly layouts, instead of daily ones; it feels like I’m doing less during my day and thus everything is more important.

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Month In Review: June 2017

June… Ahh, June. It’s hard for me to disconnect this month with the end of school, even though elementary/public and secondary school are way back in my history. We got a lot of rain this month. I enjoyed it, even if it was out of the ordinary and interfered with the amount of jogging I could fit in. This last week, the temperatures have spiked and we’re up past my comfort zone like we probably will be for the rest of summer. (I hate temperatures above 20*C.) On to July!

A celebration: My degree came in the mail, so I officially have the documentation that I paid an institution a lot of money and met some credentials.

A change: I started medication for my mental health, and I plan to blog a bit on that.

A conflict: Social media this month hasn’t benefited me the way I’d like it to, so I’ve thought about taking a hiatus from it in July.

A relief: My father secured financing for renovations on the house. He hopes to start them in the next month, so that means I’ll have work to do with him and see changes in the house!!

A regret: I forgot to blog for half of this month, oops!

A random memory: There was a spider in my bathroom that I decided not to kill on the spot. When I went back to the bathroom later, the spider had moved to the sink—a very difficult spot to manoeuver if you’re killing or not killing the spider. Since I had already seen the spider on the wall and decided I didn’t need to kill it (it wasn’t bothering anybody!), I didn’t want to try drowning it in the sink, either. I spent fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes trying to get the spider on a piece of paper and under a container so I could move it. I successfully put it outside near a small anthill, so hopefully it had a good lunch.

I do have blog posts planned for July, and I do want to get them up in a timely manner and not forget about them.