Archive for November, 2006

Ten Year Journal PDF File

November 20, 2006 in General | Comments (4)

Most journals fall into disuse because because it’s hard to make the time to write in them, and they usually fill up with depressing nonsense. Who has time to write in a journal when life is good?

I’ve been writing in a ten year journal for the past, well, ten years. I’ve almost completely filled one. A ten year journal gives you one page for each day of a year, with ten stavesrepresenting each of ten years. Every day you write about what happened in your life, but not much because there really isn’t much space. All you can really fit is a weather report about what happened, so you don’t get to wax philosophical or complain, etc. Short and sweet and off to the next day.

The very cool thing happens as you start on the later staves. Each time you write, you can look backward a year, two years, etc. You get a cross section of your life over the past decade. It also becomes a great “tie-breaker” when family and friends come to visit and you start arguing about who visited who when, what year you went on that trip, and things like that. Most of all, it’s just a very interesting chronological record of your life and times.

You can buy ten year journals, but I decided to make may own. I wrote a macro in Microsoft Word that spit out the file, then I printed it on regular bond paper. For the past ten years I’ve been suffering with a couple of crucial design mistakes that I have finally gotten to fix. I didn’t have any place for you to jot birthdays and anniversaries on the pages, there was no place to put a “headline” for a particular stave. The worst one was that, while each stave had the year on it, it didn’t have the day of the week, so I wound up writing them in by hand – often incorrectly.

All of these issues have been corrected in the new file. I wrote a Ruby script to dump out an XML file containing all of the date information, then used an XSL-FO stylesheet I built with Stylevision to transform the XML document into a fully formatted Ten Year Journal in PDF file format.

I suggest printing it with a duplex printer that can hit both sides, otherwise you have the tedious task of flipping each page by hand as it prints – but you won’t have to do it again for ten years. Use a high quality printer setting (600dpi or more) or the gray lines may not render correctly. You can safely ignore the last page. It’s blank. I couldn’t be bothered to try to keep that from rendering – it was hard enough getting the thing formatted at it is. February 29th is an oddity as well. There are still 10 staves, but only 3 have the day of the week for the leap year. The other staves are sort of freebies you can scribble extra stuff in if you want. I considered making the “non-days” not print, but in my current ten year journal it was always kind of fun to have those extra lines to write in.

Printing Tips 

If you’re going to put it in a three ring binder, I would suggest buying some prepunched paper. Myself, I have the Circa paper punch system (Levenger’s branding of the Rollabind product line). Circa notebooks lie flat like a spiral, taking up a lot less space than a three ring binder, but you can still take the pages out and add pages in if you want to. This is handy when you travel because you leave the notebook itself behind and just take the pages for the days of your trip. You can also punch and clip in ticket stubs, pictures, hotel receipts, and other mementos. You’ll need one inch rings to hold a complete ten year journal.

Click here to view the file
It’s free, so hopefully you’ll like it. Save a copy so you can print it later on. I would gladly accept feedback, but it’s not likely that I’ll change it again for the next ten years. Bookmark this page and come back in 2017 to get the new version.

National Novel Writing Month

November 1, 2006 in General | Comments (0)

If you hurry you can still sign up to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Over the 30 days of November you churn out a 50,000 word novel (roughly 175 pages) with the help and support of all the other maniacs who are trying to achieve the same goal. There are forums and local meetups and all sorts of shenanigans to either keep you on track or give you some fun things to procrastinate with.

I was tempted, but I found out about it just a bit too late. I’m not willing to dive in at this point, but don’t let that stop you. I did a little experiment with Microsoft Word… if you start a document and adjust the font to Courier New, set the line spacing to double, and add a half inch indent to the paragraphs, you’d need to write about two and a half pages a day to make the goal. Doesn’t seem like that much, at least if you have an idea for what you want to write. Word also had a word counting feature, and a toolbar item you can turn on to easily check your word count at any time. I hear this is how Stephen King got started, so it’s probably worth doing