Building a Custom Middle Way Planner

Editor's Note: Hey gang, sorry this article is late in posting, it has been done for awhile but since it features a huge nine-book signature upload, we've been having a hard time locating server space to host the files. We're putting the files on Jordan's site for now; so go easy on his web server. Thanks for your patience!

My Complete SystemLast month, I introduced you to the The Middle Way Method, which is a productivity system I made up that works for me. Today I'm going to show you the kit that I made for use with that system. One of the reasons I created this system was because I wanted to ditch the binder. I've been wanting to create my own books for a while now, and this gave me the perfect opportunity to show off my creative skills. I'm currently using the first book I made as a journal; and my second, third, and fourth books become the basis of my planner.

As you can see from the first photograph, my kit has three parts: a 9-signature planning book, and two single signature sub-notebooks: a Weekly Diabetes Tracker (containing 6 weeks of data) and an address book. I also keep a stash of index cards inside the kit, when I need them.

Before you set about to create your own kit, I suggest you read the following articles:

2010 Hand-drawn & Typed

Includes: at-a-glance, blank daily, blank monthly -- duplicates of pages pushed to left/right sides of page to make room for 3-hole punch on 2-sided printing:

Very minimal and light to inspire creativity and leave room for your own notes and doodles to shine!

View photos here


Usage advice: 

I use nice textured/thick paper for my planner and always print on both sides — depending on which side you’re printing you’ll want more space for a 3-hole punch! For that reason, the download contains duplicates of some pages pushed to the left or the right side of the page… I also recommend using the ‘fit to page’ printer setting which will make them a bit smaller but keep it from being cut off on the edges.

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Adobe Acrobat Reader

Me, Myself and I: Visually Speaking That is

This week Jordan gives us some history and tips on logo design. Download and use his Logo Development Sheets to create your own logos.

With the advent of television and the Internet, and online communities, we have all become a unique brand. In this article I’m going to show you how you can create your own personal, or familial, logo. A logo is important in branding. It is a visual communication that helps people associate you and your services with a picture.

Communicating visually has been an important part of human history. Dynastic Egypt used a symbol known as a Serekh. A Serekh was created for Royalty. These rectangular hieroglyphs were used to distinguish each ruling family apart. Egyptians placed the god Horus on the top, the name of the reining King in the middle, and the palace of the rule on the bottom. Serekhs were used to relay the necessary message of royal power. Later versions added an epithet within each glyph.

NaNoWriMo 2009: Once More Into the Breach Good Friends

NaNoWriMo 2009 ParticipantIt’s October and that means only one thing. The NaNoWriMo site relaunched and the forum boards opened to a flood of new ideas and discussions. It’s time to sign-up and explore the depths of your inner writer. Those familiar with this site and my column know that I am a 100% rabid devotee of NaNoWriMo. I’ve been participating in this madcap writing adventure for eight years now. As of this post, I have no idea what I’ll be writing about. But I’m confident that when the clock strikes midnight, signaling the beginning of November 2009, that I will be off and running, and writing until I reach 50,000 words.

Usually, I’d spend this post sharing some tidbit of wisdom or knowledge to help those who have joined in the fun learn how to be triumphant in this challenge. However, I’ve become insanely busy this year; so instead this post sounds more like a NaNoWri-cap or "best of" listing, rather than me sharing something new. Let the list of links below refresh your memory and spark new ideas for this year’s crop of noveling insanity.

  • NaNoWriMo 2008 Last year’s post talked about how I went analog and gave you all some ideas on how to join in on the fun with me.
  • NaNoWriMo 2007 Advice from a first time participant on what helped them achieve greatness.
  • NaNoWriMo 2006 The power of brainstorming and how it can help you uncover plot ideas and generate outlines.
  • NaNoWriMo 2005 Using D*I*Y Compact Planner Story forms to plot your way to victory.
  • Review: No Plot? No Problem! A review of the NaNoWriMo companion book written Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo.
  • Cheer Me On: Writing Buddies How you and your friends can cheer each other on as you write, write, write all through November.

If you’re gunning for novelizing glory come join us! Add me and the other members from D*I*Y Planner who take on this challenge to your buddy list. To all the official (and un-official) NaNoWriMo 2009 participants, good luck and I hope your muses bless you with many, many words.

A Peek in the Pack

Day Runner + D*I*Y Planner

So, a few people have emailed me about my current productivity tools. They want to know if I'm using Circa, if I've given up on fountain pens, if I ever use software, and so on. One even deduced that the reason for my absence from DIYPlanner was because I had crossed from analog completely into the digital world. The latter is certainly not the case, and my forays into the land o' ones and zeroes have typically resulted in my throwing up my hands in frustration, wondering how some people live without paper. (Keep in mind I'm an IT professional and gadget freak, so I don't say this lightly.)

So, read on for a little summary of my daily gear at the moment....

Review: Scrivener for Mac

I've been searching for the perfect writing software for awhile now. I know that this mythical software won't improve my writing skills per se. But having the right type of writing software does help keep what I write and its structure organized while I work on choosing the precise words and setting them down onto the virtual page. As such, I've used several different applications geared towards writing professionals, and I think I have found the right application for both my writing needs and style. It's called Scrivener and it’s published by Literature and Latte.

Over the years I've found that writing a book or novel requires much more than just starting at the beginning and working your way to THE END. Writing the first draft gets messy and sometimes authors don't want to write the whole piece from the beginning. Instead we may want to focus on character sketches, world building, or we may just want to get the most exciting climatic scene written first. Using a traditional word processor where everything is entered into a single document, containing multiple non-linear thoughts on a myriad of subjects, is hard to do. MS Word was not designed for creative, chaotic writing that jumps around; it doesn't conform to non-linear thought patterns. If I were using Word to do heavy writing, the moment I decide to skip 100 pages into the text to first revise a scene and then move somewhere else to jot a note about a character, I'd end up spending more time searching for the two locations than I'd spend actually typing in the text itself. That's where modular writing and Scrivener come into play.

Review: The Creative Entrepreneur

Recently I've had a growing interest in finding books that help creatives grow their own business. They seem to be few and far between. I reviewed Craft, Inc. last year and found it a great resource for starting your own business. However, while it covered many aspects of running a business, I found that it wasn't good for actually teaching you how to set-up and create your own business from conception to reality. Enter Lisa Sonora Beam and The Creative Entrepreneur. Billed as a "DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real", this book not only teaches readers the fundamentals of building a business to match their creative dream, but it presents the core business concepts in a way that makes them easy for creative personalities to understand.

The Creative Entrepreneur developed out of workshops that Beam created and offered "creatives" who wanted to take their craft and turn them into viable business opportunities. She does not believe that artists need to starve in order to succeed. This book is her legacy; it shows artists that they, too, can grasp business concepts that turn their artistic visions into concrete and functioning business plans—no matter what they are. At first glance, this book looks more like an art technique book than a business fundamentals primer. Don't let the shiny fool you; The Creative Entrepreneur packs an informative punch. Beam introduces the book by explaining how the visual journalling process aides in the process of business creation. She encourages readers to follow along with the exercises in this book, just as if they were sitting in on one of her workshops.

The Case of the Missing Editor: Announcing Ravens in the Library

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. In January, I got asked to participate in a special limited edition anthology to help benefit musician SJ Tucker, who had medical issues in 2008. I accepted the offer and prepped my story for publication. For awhile now, most of my time has been focused around helping market, publicize, and spread the word about the book. Last Thursday the editors (Phil Brucato and Sandra Buskirk) announced that the book arrived from the printers and on Saturday, I drove to Seattle to help box books with 16 passionate people.

Many of you who have visited my personal website already know about this book and how excited I've been. For those of you who do not, I'd like to introduce you all to RAVENS IN THE LIBRARY. A compilation dedicated to SJ Tucker, born out of love for music, magic, and the muse. This special VERY limited edition book has been compiled to defray the medical expenses and recovery of musician S.J. Tucker. The anthology will NOT be released in stores, and it is NOT downloadable! It will be available only as long as those expenses remain unresolved. After that, RAVENS IN THE LIBRARY will disappear. Along with my story, it features stories written by many of my favorite writers including Newberry Award winner Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Holly Black, and Francesca Lia Block. Order your copy today and help a good cause!

This is big news for me and for my writing career. I'm excited to have been apart of this anthology and hope that it's the first of many new works published by me. This is also the reason why I've sort of disappeared from this site and have not been regularly getting posts or reviews up for your enjoyment. I have a quite a backlog of reviews that I am working my way through, so expect more from me as soon as I can get things written. Before I wrap this plug up, I'd like to also announce that I will be signing copies of RAVENS in Seattle this Wednesday, March 25th, at The Dreaming Comics in the University District. So if you are local to the Seattle area (or even Portland, Oregon) come on up, meet me (and many of the other authors/artists) and get your own copy of Ravens.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support to D*I*Y Planner and for being patient with me as I struggle to find the balance between the publication, writing posts here, and editing my first novel.

Review: Tarot for Writers

Those of you new to D*I*Y Planner in the past year or two may or may not know about my tarot love affair. I'd have to say it goes beyond the metaphysical. I use the cards for more than divination: journaling with the cards and involving them in my creative writing, for example. In 2006, I wrote about how tarot can help generate story ideas. Rkfoster also wrote about tarot and paper-based planning.

I consistently tell people that the cards are an excellent writer's companion. The pictures speak to the imagination, the cards weave stories when set side by side in a reading. In addition, the symbolism just begs to be written about in a narrative form. I've always wanted to write a book on tarot--one that goes into detail on using the cards for creative inspiration. However, Corrine Kenner beat me to it. Her Tarot for Writers demystifies tarot and shows writers how to use a deck in fueling their creativity and writing practice. Tarot for Writers is jam packed with techniques, writing samples, and reference sections on both the meanings and symbols found in tarot.

The book has three main sections. Part one gives you the low-down on what tarot cards are, their history, and how to use them. Kenner introduces tarot in a way that doesn't confuse or scare people who have never worked with a deck before. Part two gets to the fun stuff. These seven chapters discuss prompts, games, spreads and general information on applying the tarot to every aspect of the writing craft from plot to characters to setting and more. There's even a chapter on using a tarot deck as your own Writing Coach. Part three takes you on a card-by-card tour of what each card means, its literary connections and archetypes, and gives a list of prompts to kickstart the muse. Finally, Kenner ends with a glossary of tarot terms and symbolism--which for me was a nice touch. I tend to use a lot of symbolism in my own work and I can see myself using the symbolism glossary as a handy reference guide.