How to Make a Giant Calendar

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I love practical how-to posts, so I thought I would share how I made something useful recently. I want to emphasize that word, “useful,” because Martha Stewart this ain’t.

Last year I found a really interesting calendar at Hanji, my favourite paper shop. It showed the entire year printed on a single large page, with boxes that were actually big enough to write in. It was made in Korea and embellished with cute animals and things. (I think there were also some instructions on the back about how to use it, in Korean, but really, the concept was straightforward.) I bought it halfway through the year, and actually didn’t end up using it much. However, in December, wanting to follow some advice from Joanna Penn’s excellent writing podcast and set some goals for the upcoming year, I went back to Hanji to pick up a 2013 calendar, only to discover that the company no longer produces them. This threw my goal-setting plans into complete disarray. How could I make plans for the year if I couldn’t plot them on a giant poster with cute Korean animals on it?? (Yes, this is a silly problem. Just take my word for it that it was a problem for me, okay?)

Well, what I ended up doing was drawing a giant calendar myself, on a sheet of packing paper. It’s not beautiful (the paper was a bit wrinkled to start with), but it has colourful stickers, and I have found it helpful to see the whole year laid out and to plot goals on it (in pencil, because I know what I’m like). If you invested a little bit of money in a nice sheet of paper, you could make it look really lovely.photo

Here’s what you need to do:

  • You’ll want a piece of paper that is at least 77 cm by 45 cm. Mine, as you can see, was bigger than it needed to be. (I figured I might want to write things in the margins, so I didn’t trim it.) You’ll also need quite a long ruler, or straight edge of some kind. If you had a T-square, you could do a much better job of this than I did.
  • Rule out a grid of 12 rows and 36 columns, making each row 3.5 cm tall, and each column 2 cm wide. I did it first in pencil, then went over it again with black pencil crayon. You could of course use ink. (See how I’m assuming you are going to create this beautiful thing? I’m so excited for you!)
  • Label the rows with the names of the months. I numbered them with some stickers I happened to have, but wrote in the names underneath.
  • Label the columns as follows: Starting with a Sunday, mark off 5 weeks + 1 extra Sunday. If for some reason you prefer to start your week on a Monday, mark off 5 weeks + 1 extra Monday, i.e. end on the same day you began on. Now, you may note that I didn’t do this; I added an extra Sunday and Monday at the end, but it turns out I didn’t need the extra Monday. Once again, your calendar is going to be better than mine.
  • Write in all the dates! This is the fun part. 2013 started on a Tuesday. Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November; all the rest have 31, except for February, which has 28 this year, but you knew that. And that’s all you need to know; everything else should fall into place.
  • Now write in some lofty goals, and then try not to panic because things coming up next month look like they’re due next week when your year is laid out like this! But that can be good motivation. 😉

2 Comments

  • Brilliant. I have some giant packing-paper charts on my wall for story plotting, and since I’m nearly done with one of them I thought I would do some goal-setting charts for myself instead. However, I was just going to do separate lists, and this seems far more fun. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement, and it’s lovely to have you back posting!

    • ajdegan says:

      Giant charts for plotting are also fun! At one time I had one wall of my carrel in Robarts covered in index cards that I was using to plot a story… which I never actually wrote — I think the plotting was really the most enjoyable part of that one.

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