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We are a community of people who see the value of paper as a medium for planning, productivity, creative expression, and exploring ideas. We encourage visitors to share advice and inspiration, and we love to see submissions for templates, kit images and story articles. We are also the official home of the free D*I*Y Planner kits. Please enjoy your stay, and make yourself at home!

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!

Review: Lamy AL Star Fountain Pen

I'm not an expert on fountain pens by any stretch of the imagination, having received my first one about two years ago --an amazing and unexpected gift from Robert Lynch, an Aurora Style. Since then, however, I've certainly fallen under their spell. True, they're not always the most convenient, and I almost always have a little splatter of ink in the corners of my fingernails, but there's something about the way that they glide across the page trailing a fine wet line that glistens even in the dim light of my office. Or perhaps it's the throwback to a calmer, less hectic time when we had time to make words meaningful. So, too, the relaxing ritual of filling my pens with sundry types and colours of ink, even mixing my own concoctions, a past-time that merges my wild ambitions as artist, scientist and writer.

But the mystique of fountain pens can also be mystifying for the beginner. I know it was for me. A glance through various fountain pen websites will quickly bring into focus the highly regarded pens that cost thousands of dollars. Wandering through fountain pen listings and forums will baffle you with an arcane lexicon and conflicting statements about pens, nibs, inks, filling systems, pricing, collectability and custom grindings. Alas, these are barriers to entry for the poor newbie who wishes simply to buy a reliable and inexpensive pen that can be used as a daily writer without pain, confusion, financial ruin or the permanent soiling of one's carpet.

Lamy AL Star Silvergreen Fountain Pen

Enter the Lamy AL Star.

Bringing Us All Together

Email Chain Letter
Hey, Steve here. I was ruminating on ideas for today's post and I ran one past Doug Johnston, our resident medieval longbow archery expert, and he said that I might offend all of our readers from Mongolia. This seemed unlikely to me, partly because I don't know for a fact that we have any readers in Mongolia, but Douglas is a cautious fellow, which is a very good quality in someone who practices medieval longbow archery, let me just say. I told Doug that he was being silly and then he reminded me that I've offended people in the past on this site. No I haven't, I thought. That's silly.

Well, o.k., I might have offended a few people, but not that many. I sat down and made a list. Over the past two plus years of writing for this site, I've offended the religious right, the liberal left, Italian people, French people, Irish people, American people, people from Finland, people from Norway, people from Sweden, probably people from Mongolia, Chinese-Canadian Irish celebrants, sellers, shoppers, tech support workers, young people, old people, my mother, my father, my girlfriend, Innowen, Sascha Chow, Dr. Seuss fans, perverts, organized people, disorganized people, women, men and gay female video game enthusiasts. And Doug. O.k., so I've offended a few people! Well then, how about something to bring us all together again, something we can all relate to?

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).

Safety First

Workplace Safety
Greetings all, Henry here today, once again filling in for my son Stephen. Stephen injured himself at the gym and has since given his time over completely to trying to score sympathy from his girlfriend. He reports some limited success.

Out walking this morning I was struck again how important safety is for all of us. As I came by, work crews were cutting down unneeded tree branches and throwing them into one of those chipper machines, which chews up the branch and shoots the chips into a truck. I have always thought those could be very dangerous.

It reminded me that most work is dangerous. Even the relatively sedentary work of the computer 'geek' can lead to trouble. In the bad old days, we had to watch out for predators and natural dangers, but apparently our bodies were not designed to sit staring at a screen hours on end either. Carpel tunnel, back and neck problems, eternal headaches and eye strain are some of the most common complaints.

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:

The Tragedy Of Testosterone Poisoning

Greetings all, Steve here. Ow. My back hurts. Ow! Well, it's my own fault. I've thrown my back out twice in my life and both times were after I lost a fight with a Swiss exercise ball. Swiss people must be very flexible, but I'm not, at least not anymore. Ow:( But it's not my fault. It's genetics. I am just one more victim of testosterone poisoning.

Testosterone poisoning has to do with the nature of the male human creature and his function in society. We used to need lots of testosterone and now we don't, anymore. My girlfriend Meghan and I had a discussion the other day about the nature of men and women. I said that women were overly complicated and she claimed that men are too simple. This seemed unfair to me, but I contemplated her words later that night. Meghan had gone for a night with the girls to share their thoughts and emotions about the challenges of life, both good and bad and unload the stress of the week. I stayed home and are a bag of oats.

DIYPlanner's War on Spam

Editor's Note from innowen: For those of you interested in switching over to the notaspammer account, you NEED to tell us via email. Also, if you've lost posts to the spam filter, let us KNOW right away (as in the day you post it) and if you can, the URL that got eaten, so we can look it up and immediately unlock it. The longer you wait, the harder it is to locate that needle in the haystack. We have dayjobs and are fairly busy, so if you can help us troubleshoot your issues when you have them, the faster we can help make your stay here on the forums happier.

Well, that's overly dramatic, and not at all accurate. It's more like a series of bloody skirmishes involving long-distance projectiles, inadequate armor, and a few raving lunatics wandering among the battlefields looking for adders to bite them. (I'll leave that metaphor there, just for the historians among us.)

Some people are noting that our defenses are poor and that sleazy operators (many of whom actually take the time to become members) are spam-bombing our forums and comment threads from time to time. Other members are complaining that our barricades are a little too strong, and that legitimate posts keep getting caught up in our filters. Both opinions, though completely opposite, are essentially correct. Unfortunately, that's the problem with most well-visited sites (and many which aren't).

So, we have at least a partial solution for you.

Why Your System Doesn't Work... For You... If It Doesn't

[DrGern is in reality one John McCarthy, with a Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology. Besides writing a book on The Psychology of Time Management, he is also a technology policy analyst for New York State Legislature and a student success coach through CampusCoach.com. --DJ]

One of the most important realizations I've had as a father is how different human beings can be. Sure, my training as a psychologist gave me the theoretical and practical underpinnings for that concept, and, frankly, my wife seems to be my polar opposite in terms of effortless effectiveness, a Superman to my Clark Kent. But until you become responsible for molding another person's behavior, you don't realize how incredible it is to have one method work for one person and be counterproductive for the next.

Human beings are different. The situations they find themselves in are different. The behaviors that work in one situation for one person, may not for the next. These elements of your personality and situation interact with the time management system you use to make it more or less effective, so they become an important part in deciding what to use and how.