It's That NaNoWriMo Time of Year

My picture nameThe leaves are turning brown. St. Helen’s has a fresh cap of snow on her rim. And students are returning back to college. All this means one thing to me. No, not the start of autumn. NaNoWriMo is almost here. For those of you who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. And for the past 6 years, the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, has been getting would-be writers out of their funks, writing complete drafts of novels. 50,000 words in 30 days.

This is my 4th year participating in the event. Each October, it’s the same. I make a mad dash to sign up for the event and then spend the next 20-25 days trying to come up with the slightest inkling of a good story idea that could carry me through writing 50,000 words. I bug everyone I know with my talk about my possible novel. I get my family and friends involved, I toss ideas out about possible stories to forums and on IMs. I even collect scraps of interesting news tidbits and cool sounding random generated plot ideas to get my imagination going. And lucky you, this year I’m going to share with you my ideas on how you can prepare yourself for drafting and writing a novel. Who knows, maybe this is enough to convince you to join me in the NaNoWriMo madness this November.

Confessions of a Gel Pen Addict

massive pen collection All my writing books, creativity books and journalling books start off the same, "Get yourself a blank book and good pen that makes you happy and WANT to write." The idea behind this is that if you get a book and pen you like, that you'll be compelled to write often with the item you purchased. While it seems a bit capitalistic, I have to agree. As a matter of fact, I am making a public confession. I am addicted to gel pens. Gel pens are my ultimate writer's tool.

A Box Full of Inspiration

The Kit"You can only learn to be a better writer by actually writing."

That is Doris Lessing expressing the rock-bottom truth about writing. Read any book about writing, enroll in any writing course, browse any 'how to write' web site and you will find the equivalent. The exact phrasing will vary, but the meaning never does.

So most writers resolve to write every single day. Often this is easy. Other times it can seem as if your muse has vanished into a witness protection program. However if you are willing to invest a little time now and then, you can create a priceless treasure: a bottomless well of personalized inspiration to draw on whenever your mind is as blank as your paper.

Music Manuscript

9 staves of manuscript for jotting down your musical thoughts on the hoof.

Usage advice: 

I print this out with Acroread the same way as the main diyplanner hipster PDA templates are printed so, hopefully, no problems for you.

Paper size: 
Index Card (3 x 5)
Applications required: 
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader)

Planning to Have Fun

If template designers were scientists, I'd be a white-frocked and absent-minded head of research at a university lab. Guest-poster John Norris, on the other hand, would be the wild-eyed and frizzle-haired loony hoisting his creation up to the array of lightning rods atop the castle roof. We all should have such checks and balances. -DJ

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy"

Pushing the Envelope

OK, OK, obviously is all about productivity. However, there are many spheres in which one may be productive. For corporate work, it's meetings, to-do's and contacts. However, maybe you're a poet, choreographer or sculputor and need to be productive artistically. These areas would have corresponding templates that may be quite different from corporate work.

Let's push further. "Productivity" is not merely efficiency: it commonly brings with it a positive, qualitative, meaning. Hipsters can address quality of life issues. Games, ice-breakers, puzzles, etc., can add to one's simple enjoyment of life. You're carrying it everywhere, so why not include enough distractions so you will Get Nothing Done (TM), but have fun anyway?

Surfing the Alpha Waves

Hokusai - The Great Wave at KanagawaLong before Covey and Carnegie and other gurus stuck a pin through highly successful people and dissected them, many people (equally as sensible) long ago uttered the essential truth that success was a by-product of three different character traits: drive, discipline and imagination. Now, drive is something spawned by desire, a perfectly natural human urge -- you feel it, don't you? And every productivity maven out there tells you how to be disciplined: use a calendar this way, an action list that way, a project outline here, a QA/QC process there, a mission statement on the top, and a project post-mortem/ evaluation at the bottom. Thank you very much, and you can buy my workbooks for a mere $299 to increase your efficiency another 14.8%!

But where does imagination come from? Well, that's the hard part, isn't it? Nobody can tell you how to be imaginative. There's no tricks, no special lists, no simple steps leading 1-2-3 to a highly-developed right brain hemisphere. You either got it, or you don't, right?

To that question, I'd answer a firm and unequivocal "Wrong!" We all got it... the question is how to find it. And one of the best ways to find it? Surf your alpha waves.

Making Creative and Inexpensive Covers

wishing jar collage, by jaymi elfordPlanners are like personalities, every single one is different. Taking a trip to OfficeMax or the grocery store shows you all sorts of planner styles; from leather bound books with colorful forms made by famous artists, to cheap, plastic notebooks. While these planners all have a personality of their own to match any lifestyle... they all share one thing in common. They cost. And sometimes, it gets expensive refilling and buying new ones yearly. Of course, learning how to create your own planners and forms is why we’re here and what D*I*Y* Planner is all about.

So put away your wallets. I’m going to share a few ideas on how to take cheap planner binders or packages and turn them into one-of- a-kind artistic expression of yourself. The suggestions contained in this article are easy and don’t require a whole lot of artistic knowledge or a creative MBA. I believe that making things should be fun, cheap and can be done in small, passionate bursts of time and energy. And now, let’s get busy.

Free Your Mind

Books, chai and a fergThis week I planned on setting some principles and guidelines to help free your mind and get ready for the ideas and crafty bits of what I hope to show and teach you. However, someone beat me to it in the forums. Her post Nurturing creative energy and productivity captured a lot of the things I was hoping to write about. So instead of doubling up on those ideas, I thought I'd add to what she started there and share with you 8 more thoughts on the things that help and nurture my creative spirit and process.

Scribbles, Scraps and More

Tools of the Trade

The feel of leather under your finger tips. The sound of the spine creaking, the binder snapping open and shut, the paper smooth and cool under your fingers. Sounds like you've purchased a new journal, sketchbook or planner. It doesn't matter what the flavor is, we've all been there, in the store... thinking, I should write more, draw more, get more organized. And that's when the store conjures up the book, that perfect tool. Driving home, bits of images, creativity fills your head on all the things you'll do with the book. The appointments, the perfect sketches, stories. And then, the book sits in the dark corners of your office.