Loosening the Grip

First off, I wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends out there in the USA. Here's hoping you count your blessings and give thanks for all the wonderful things that have happened to you over the past year.

I finished NaNoWriMo 2006 with 50037 words and 11 days to spare. On schedule and before Thanksgiving. Huzzah! Go Team NaNo. However I noticed something interesting happening in my writing style this year. And it distresses me a bit. My writing has gotten much more rigid and focused. I try and keep a certain pace, making sure I hit every "plot" point in my outline or... create a new point that sounds and works better than the old. Unlike past years where I had an idea for a story and a start and an end in mind and then tried to meander through some world to tie the two ends together so they became a novel.

Compact (4.25x6.75) size dated daily notes pages for Dec. 2006

Dated daily notes pages with mini-calendars.

Usage advice: 

I've gotten into the habit (being a Franklin Covey expatriate) of keeping my planner as a journal. So when I started using the DIY templates instead of those overpriced Covey things, I wanted to hang on to the two-pages-per-day format for my day keeper pages.

Enter the DIY-style daily notes. This is my second attempt at a custom form. It includes a mini-calendar on every page, and each page is dated. You'll notice that these forms don't perfectly match the style of the official forms, but they're close enough by my own comparison.

The procedure I use for preparing these pages is simple: print as many left-handed DIY day keeper forms as needed for the month, then on the front of those pages, print the daily notes forms from this document. (You'll have to use scaling on the official forms, as I haven't included those in this file. Fear not, I'm working on it.)

As noted above, these forms are made to cater to the "compact" size 6-ring users. The margins aren't terribly narrow, so you can probably fudge it with different page sizes (and you can always make them bigger with scaling functions.)

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader, Mac OS X Preview)

Review : Wabi Sabi for Writers

I was at one of my favorite book stores which also catered to the new age crowd a week ago. My friend, corie was in town and wanted me to drag her to all the hot-spots in Portland. She's also a book freak and she must have purchased about 10 books on a shoe string budget during her stay here. We wandered in and out of the aisles looking at all the books, and knick-knacks when my eyes ran across Wabi Sabi for Writers, by Richard Powell. I also have on my shelf (and started to read a long time ago, but never finished) his other book, Wabi Sabi Simple. I was amused and amazed that here was a book on a subject that I am growing more and more interested in, encapsulated inside a well written, personal account on writing.

According to Powell, writing lends itself well to the ways of wabi sabi. For it is through exploration, simple natural elements, connecting and sharing with others the passion for writing, and the test of time that turns an item into something wabi sabi. The same can be said about writing. Good writing, has to have certain universal elements, explore some "element of nature" (natural or humankind), and withstand the test of time. Writers also need a reader, for without the act of sharing, the story cannot be complete. The rest of the book, then, uses inner dialog with the haiku poet, Basho; personal tales of experience that help to illustrate how one achieves points while being on the path of wabi sabi; and examples of writing, contemporary and canonical, that he considers wabi sabi to show writers how to apply this to their own works.

Review : No Plot? No Problem!

Before any of you can ask me, yes I finished today's NaNoWriMo word count with 2502. Which leaves me with a perfect segue-way into my first review for November is D*I*Y Planner Review Month or DIYPlaRevMo. *ahem* Okay, sorry... I'll try and refrain from the jokes. But it should come as no surprise that the first book I'm reviewing this month is Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem!. Not only is the book a wonderful companion to this month's NaNoWriMo excursion but it's also a great stand alone writing book.

For those of you who want to try the NaNo experience but have way too much going on in November, I whole heartedly suggest that you get this book. It's jam packed with the same sass, intensity, whimsical prose and gentle prodding that makes participating in this event fun. Baty doesn't really help you write better prose, per se. Instead he focuses on the culture, the things that help you produce writing, give you time and help you turn off your inner editor and write uninhibited prose. Fast and uncensored. His goal, and it works as I can attest to this, is to help you write a full first draft of a novel, in little time. No Plot? No Problem! contains lots of suggestions, pep-talks, exercises and humor to help you get off your butt, silence the inner editor and learn to love counting words.

The Authentic Voice

I just started reading a book on wabi sabi and how writers can use it to uncover authenticity and truth and make their writing better. I'll review this book here later, when I'm finished with it. This idea of an authentic voice appeals to me. I see the authentic voice, as it relates to writing as being the one voice that speaks harmony and truth about the topic you're writing about. It doesn't have to polished or perfect to the standards of the English language, but rather it should be a reflection of yourself and how you see the topic. You want to connect to your readers on a deep intrinsic level and want them to walk away with the feeling that they learned something about themselves, the world or you. Whew, what a mouthful, eh?

Five for Five? Plotting a path to victory

Raise your hand if you knew this post was coming? That's right, in 2 weeks I join the zombie horde of writers, furiously typing purple prose to reach their 50,000 word word goal. I will once again be, a NaNoWriMo novelist. To recap, NaNoWriMo is a month long journey where people around the world attempt to write a complete novel(la) in about 30 days. By the seat of their pants. Some people go into this "competition" with no plot or characters to write about, others like myself, create a loose plot and maybe a character or two before we start writing. Last year, I introduced you to the D*I*Y Planner Story pack and all the goodies that are on those index cards. This year, all year long, I've used the cards to collect plots and snippets for use during NaNo. This year, I'll explain how many multiple brainstorming sessions not only helped me hone in on a plot but helped me create endings and a working outline.

Book of Countings

When I moved into my home, fondly referred to as the Perch, I had to make a tough call. Do I get cable modem or cable television. It was a hard call to make but also an easy one for me. I'm a net junkie and I needed to be connected. So I opted for high speed internet. While television works great for background noise, the biggest reason I switched my tube off was due to news programs. Honestly, they're overwhelmingly negative. And after September 11, 2001... things seem to be even more depressing. Almost a full 20 minutes of the nightly 10 o'clock news seems to get filled up with sad and depressing stories. Occasionally, tales of happiness and joy get shown but to me they're few and far between. This was not what I wanted to see or fill my life up with; and it was something I have not missed.

Instead I learned how to make my own news. I found a use for a journal a friend in college gave to me. She filled the spiral bound journal with a cat on the cover with inspirational quotes and messages. It took me almost 10 years to figure out what to use it for. Taking this book out I decided that it was time to put it too good use. I call it the Book of Counted Blessings and Gifts and for the past 6 years, I've written down (almost daily) the blessings and gifts that life and my travels have given me.

Building Rapport with Words

Some days, when I type to my friends, I don't feel like they're getting what I say. They seem argumentative and don't really "listen" to what I am saying. Of course, other days, it's like they're psychic and truly get everything I'm writing to them, with very little explanation. We mesh on the same wave length and our communication and ideas flow like we share one brain. I'm sure you've had days where you felt this way too. Want to know a secret to making this connection happen all the time? It's actually rather easy and I'll let you in on the secret with the admission price of reading this article. It's all about rapport.

10 Ways to Alter Your Planner

Altering books is a new art form that appeared a few years ago. In it, you breathe new life into an old or unused book by collaging, writing, painting and drawing or crafting niches into the book itself. In essence, you turn it into a piece of art. If artists can turn books into a work of art, it stands to reason that you too can alter your planner to match your personality more. Planners make great altered book projects because they track your progress over a year as well as your personality in one book. Instead of throwing out your planner pages every year, why not change them into wild works of art that become keepsakes and scrapbooks of your lives.

In honor of my birthday which coincides with today's post, I thought it'd be fun to list out 10 different ways you can spice up or alter your planner or journal to make it match your personality more. Even though I may sometimes act only 10, these are some fun and fast things you can do to add a bit of creative fun into your planners and journals.