Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone

I'm off and getting ready to have my house invaded by 6 of my good friends. I just wanted to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. May the holidays this year (no matter where you live) be filled with good food, warm friendships and laughter. Make sure to count your blessings and gifts this year.

For everyone in the United States, eat lots and enjoy the one or two days off! I'll be back next week with more creative goodness. I have a lot of good articles backed up to write, so keep watching this site!

The Care and Use of Plot Ninjas

Last week, I went to the local coffee haus for the first of many NaNoWriMo write ins. Imagine a crew of caffeine induced writers sitting around tables with their laptops and brightly colored and mismatched coffee mugs, chatting about their stories and generally having a good time while writing. That is what the typical write in looks like. But my favorite part of write ins are the times when we toss out plot ninjas to one another in a desperate attempt to help push novels forward and pad the word count.

What's that you say? A plot ninja? What the heck. Well, a plot ninja is an idea intentionally vague enough to fit in any genre and setting and provides you a random moment in time that forces you and your characters to wake up and explore the realm of the weird and unusual. Best used when you are stuck, they come to your aid when you need advice from the muse or the writing gods but they have hung the out to lunch sign on you. Plot ninjas come in (sometimes quite literally) and give you a reason to continue writing. And anyone can learn to use and invoke the power of the plot ninjas for any of your writing (or creative needs).

Listening to Writing Wisdom

Happy second week into NaNoWriMo everyone! Just like everyone else participating in this seat of the pants writing competition, I've (that should have been written as "I have") been busily working through a steady word count of 2,000 (that is two thousand) words a day.

November leaves me with hardly any time for reading. I do more writing this month then I do in a normal month and sometimes I get a little "writing stir crazy". It gets hard to keep doing something over and over again without being lost to the shiny. Sure, I listen to music while I write to help break up the monotony of hearing my fingers quickly dart across the keyboard; but sometimes, I need more. That's when podcasts become my personal savior. I love podcasts. Especially writing ones. They inspire me to tackle on my word count with vigorous joy and remind me to go crazy and try new things with my story lines and characters. And the best thing about them is they're free and I can listen to them whenever I want.

Here's a small list of the current podcasts that have been inspiring me this November:

Create Your Own News

When I was in high school, I learned to watch the nightly news. Every night, I'd turn on the news and watch what was going on. I quickly learned that all the news really focused on was negative thinking and fear tactics. Disasters, deaths, sickness, financial sadness was all they showed. Wednesdays always bore the special interest pieces on children or animals. But these were shown only after all the "headline" news.

I stopped reading and watching the news because of how it affected me. It's depressing. And I find this statement to be true even now, with war going on around the world. When I need to know what's going on, I use newsfeeds like or where I can pick and choose what stories I read. Instead, I allow my life and the events in it to become my own news.

Slow Down, Take Care of Yourself

One of my work mantras is: If there is no you, then your work cannot be done. For some, this is common sense. But for many of us, me included... it's hard to remember that you are the best asset you can give a company. Sometimes, especially these days, we forget this idea and work longer hours and harder to get what we need to get done.

Companies hire us to do the best job we can. They give us shiny computers, small domiciles (cubes) to adorn with Corporate Zombies and rubber ducks, and a whole host of fun and exciting challenges. We set about working on these tasks. And sometimes we get lost in our work and loose track of time. However, working hard is much different than making overtime a standard.

Overworking makes you sick. It reduces your ability to think, brainstorm and perform at that best you can be. So what does this have to do with paper, productivity and passion? They're three aspects to taking better care of yourself so that you don't get trapped at work.

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day. Like many other blogs across the interwebs, D*I*Y Planner is happy to participate in this global event. Today's topic is on the environment and I thought it appropriate to repost an old article I wrote a few months ago on alternatives to recycling your old planner pages. Of course, you could avoid recycling paper and waste by using electronic capture devices but if that were the case then D*I*Y would cease to exist.

Who says your art and journal entries need to be clean and messy. You now have permission to reuse those forms, save them from the landfills and go make art with them. Recycling forms to make creative and original paper art is easy and fun. It focuses on the bits of papers that you aren't planning on keeping because they're not important enough to archive in a shoe box or scan into DEVONthink. I'm talking about using the daily forms that we commonly think of scrap papers. You know, those sheets that we find ourselves with more of and are constantly tossing into the trash. Yes, I am now telling you that you don't have to recycle those forms. Instead, you can use them to:

NaNoWriMo 2007

Once again NaNoWriMo signups are upon us. The site is up, sporting new Drupal digs, and accepting new novelists who will once again brave the exciting race that is 50,000 words in 30 days- all November long. 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. Two years ago, I gave you ideas on using the D*I*Y Planner Story pack. Last year I helped you brainstorm ideas for outlines and plots.

This year, you get advice from last year's first year winner, iScribe. She's compiled a list of things that helped her achieve her first time victory. I've reprinted her ideas with her permission as they are some of the best advice anyone can give returning wrimos (and especially first timers) as they attempt to draft their first novel in 30 days. Read on to learn more about what worked for her.

Last year (2006) was my first year doing NaNo and I won. I crossed the finish line two days before the deadline with 55,000 words and a finished novel. This is what worked for me:

Make a Life-map of Achievements

Looking back at my life, I sometimes get so bogged down in the day to day activities that I forget all the good and wonderful things I have done in my life. Sometimes, I need to be reminded of my accomplishments to help get me out of a funk. That's why I sometimes keep a list of all the accomplishments laying around. However, while playing with my mind mapping software, I came up with an alternative idea for visually keeping track of my accomplishments. I call it my Life-map of Achievements.

Keeping such a list can help improve a blue monday mood as well as can also give your life meaning and focus. Have you ever wanted to see a roadmap of all your achievements? To hold in your hands a single representation of every proud moment in your life? In creating your own Life-map of Achievements, you can take stock of what you have done so you can get ideas for what all you could do tomorrow, next year and in the rest of your life. All you need to make one of these tools is your memory, some pencils, pens or crayons, a big piece of paper for space and a little working knowledge of how to create a mind map.

Hand Drawn

Hand drawn and stamped planner pages!

4x6 Index Card- includes 'this book belongs to,' info page, daily record, weekly plan, appointments, contacts, goals, ideas, lyrics, to-do and monthly plan. Could be resized for 3x5 as well.

Hope you like it- and if there's a template you'd like to see in this style please ask and I'll see what I can do!

Usage advice: 

Just like you would use 3x5 index cards, just a little more room!

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Adobe Acrobat