Divine Inspiration

Creative TarotCandlelight flickers and dances across the walls of the room. Wispy, light sounds of Japanese pipes drift through the incense smoke into your ears. A tiny woman, her head wrapped in a bright red and gold turban sits at a intimate wrought-iron table covered with a purple, silk table cloth. A white candle, its flame flickering; a palm sized crystal ball; and a pack of cards, the top card displaying the picture of a giant wheel; lay carefully positioned on the table's top. The woman beckons you to take a seat directly across from her. You take a seat as the woman waves her hand over the deck of cards and begins to shuffle them. As you stare at her, gauging her true intentions, the woman begins to position the cards onto the table in a careful layout. Then she begins to tell you your future as she describes how the cards and what each position relate to your life.

Tarot cards. One of the oldest means of exploring symbolism and your spot in the universe. A simple pack of 78 cards with a myriad assortment of images and cross-culture symbols painted on them, used as divination device by people all over the world. It contains a major arcana of 22 cards that seek to explain higher powers at work as well as a minor arcana composed of 4 suites corresponding to the 4 elements (wands, swords, cups and coins). Of course, there's a lot of tarot history I'm glossing over here but I just wanted to give you a small background on the cards. If you're curious about the tarot and want to learn more about its history, check out and wikipedia's tarot page for more information about the tarot and variety of decks out there.

Talking to Your Muse

Me: Hey Muse... feeling uninspired today. You wanna help me out here and cut me some slack.

Muse: What’s up? Stuck again? How can I help you more? I’ve already given you lots of ideas for stories and artwork.

Me: I know, but I need some advice on how to write this article. For some reason it’s not going the way I want it.

Artistic Planning

My mind churns out a consistent stream of new ideas to turn into artistic works. Typically I have anywhere between 3-4 creative projects in various states of completion at one time. I fall under the "rotational" school of creativity where I'll work on one project and keep on it until I feel I can't progress anymore. Then I switch to the next, and so on and so forth. Being a creative person of this type means that there is some preplanning and organizing involved. There has to be a flexible plan that allows me to rotate between each unfinished project. For each project that I have that does not take an hour or so to create from start to finish, I have a simple workflow that keep my items together with my layout ideas so I can pick up where I left off when I am in the mood.

Quick Tips: 5 Different Uses for the Source template

I’m going to try something new. I’m going to pull a card out of the D*I*Y Planner Templates Kit and give you 5 new ways of using that card. Today we’re going to take a look at the Source template. The way I see this card is that it's an super buff and more flexible version of the Address Card. It's design allows you to either list an individual contact or a grouping of places or people. And with a little bit of imagination you can use this template for the following:

  • A bibliography card for students working on term papers. List the book’s title in the name field, the publication data in the address, the year in the account field, etc. You can list what the source was used for in the Note field.
  • An all in one tracker for your Photography studio. Use the name and address for each person or company contact and the notes area for costs or contract information. The hours field can be used to denote when the store or agency is open for business or accepting calls.
  • Contact tracker for writers. Use this template to list publications you want to submit pieces to or agents to contact. The Notes area can be filled up with works sent to the publications or comments on agency responses to inquiry.
  • A craftster’s guide to getting the best items. Knitters, scrapbookers and assemblage artists can use this template to track their favorite stores or websites on where to get the best fibers or art supplies.
  • PodCasters can use this source card to keep track of potential interviewers. There’s a lot of good podcasts out there and I know a few peeps who need ways to track all the people they want to interview for future episodes. This Source template is perfect for that.

This has been my Quick Tips creative re-visioning of the Source Card. If you liked this type of post, please let me know and I’ll try and integrate more in between my normal creative meanderings and instructions. I know that when version 3.0 of the new D*I*Y Planner Kits come out, I’ll be sure to find new and useful ways to “abuse” the forms Doug carefully plotted out for us all.

What's in a Bag?

I'm always carrying a book or two with me. Whenever I go out, I always have to bring along some bag that is usually filled with books and pens. I've been this way since I was a child. These days, of course, all I really need is a hipster and pen to be entertained, but when I go on vacation or away for the day I need to have a few other things with me. Therefore bags have become necessary extensions of my "writing/artist" kit. Which bag I choose usually falls under one of the following 3 categories: everyday use, computer use, and specialty usage. Depending on where I am going and what I plan to do, I'll select one of these three bags.

The Notebook: Could It Be More Obvious?

Now, I'm just as much a paper snob... er, connoisseur as the next guy, but that can be a problem. For example, I have some nice Moleskines, quality sketchbooks and journals that I keep handy, but hardly ever use. Why's that? Well, I suspect that many of you know the feeling: they're too precious to sully with mere idle thoughts, to-do lists, memos for groceries, and so on. They are, in fact, reserved for "special" thoughts, often during long and dry stretches of no use. And yet, a thick planner can be a little too bulky to carry around absolutely everywhere, and index cards have their problems too: it's hard to shuffle a large pile and find things, and the ones with important and frequently-used notes tend to get lost in piles, migrate under books, or slip beneath a keyboard.

I've rediscovered a certain joy lately, and among all the tinkering I've done lately, it was one of the last things to occur to me, even though I did it for years -- seemingly a lifetime ago. It's the act of keeping a portable, messy, continual-brain-dump device known as a notebook.

The Write Tip

I realize that pens and gel pens aren't the only writing instrument out on the market. While I prefer to write in brightly colors inks, pens aren't the best utensil for designing my D&D characters, erasing quick calculations and drawing or sketching pictures in my sketch books. In these cases, I switch to a pencil. We've all used them in grade schools when learning our letters and doing homework and passing notes to and from each other. However, when was the last time you took a good look at your pencil and thought... what exactly does this writing implement do? Why do pencils get stamped with numbers or random letters? Well, look no further as this week we take a look at pencils, both traditional and mechanical.

Bookbinding Wrap Up

By now you've spend the past three weeks learning how to make single signature books and perhaps have tried your hand at the more intermediate book. Now that you have learned to create two different styles of books on your own, you're probably wondering where to go from here. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are 2 ways to uncover more advanced bookbinding techniques.

Your first stop should be to visit a bookstore to peruse the shelves of books on binding and crafting journals. A quick search on amazon shows over more than 30 or more books displaying instructions on building and crafting different types of books. From japanese stab bound books to crafting leather wrapped tomes. Look at the end of this article for more suggestions on good books to begin your search. However, if finding that reading instructions out of a book seems confusing to you, or you are not quite sure which of the various tomes of instruction seems right to you, I recommend bugging a friendly employee at the art store and see whether or not someone in your community is hosting a bookbinding class or seminar. More often than not, one employee or two just may know of a store in your area that caters to classes on bookbinding techniques.

Writing, and Avoiding Digital Distractions

In the recent stripping down of my life into the essential component parts, I've come to realise how sticking to the basics enables me to create content without distraction. In a way, it's very much in line with my return to a paper planner: eliminate the diversions and leave yourself free to think -- I've written about this sort of thing before (here and here), but in the context of productivity. The act of writing, however, is very much a day-to-day task for me, and the true focus of most of my productive hours, so it's essential to do it efficiently and effectively. That's where the dreaded three-headed hydra of distraction lies, and has to be conquered daily.

Now, I think I've used almost every type of text editor, word processor, mark-up system (e.g., LaTeX, SGML, HTML and XML), outliner, web-based editor, and personal content management system over the past 20-odd years. I'm to the point where I can compare and contrast how various systems and methods work for me. I've learned that --for me to truly write quickly, creatively and well-- the key is keeping things basic and focussed.