Are you a “Planner” or a “Pantser” ?

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

I received a clever email from NaNoWriMo (well, actually, from the point of view of my unwritten book) inviting me, on behalf of unwritten books everywhere, to write my book this November.  It suggested that Step One in preparing for National Novel Writing Month is to DECIDE to write a 50k words in 30 days. I’ve already decided that.  Then, the email provided a link to a “Prep” page on the NaNoWriMo site which provided a series of steps leading up to November 1.  Step One is making the commitment to participate. Check.  Step Two is asking yourself whether you are a “planner” or a “pantser.”

According to NaNoWriMo, you are a “planner” if

1. You believe in rigorous preparation.

2. You’ll spend the months before November carefully fleshing out characters, building worlds, and plotting your story.

3. On November 1, you’ll have an outline—or at least lots of helpful notes.

 And, on the other hand, you are a “pantser” if

1. You believe in hardcore spontaneity.

2. You’ll spend the months before November stocking up on inspiration and mayyybe a vague idea or two (if you’re ambitious).

3. On November 1, you’ll have a blank document and your imagination.

It would be interesting to see if NaNoWriMo actually had statistics on the success rates of “planners” vs “pantsers” — in other words, which category is comprised of the most people who have successfully written 50,000 words? Perhaps my guess is based only upon the fact that I’m clearly a “Planner” but I would wager a guess that, statistically speaking, there are more “winners” in the “planner” category.  Being a planner suggests other character traits that will come in handy when trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days, namely organization, dedication, and commitment.  While the NaNoWriMo site says “We think both are equally valid” they clearly don’t, because in the very next paragraph they eschew the very essence of being a “pantser” by saying, “And even if you’re a pantser, we recommend reading through the links below… You never know what might inspire you.”  A pantser wouldn’t do that — that sounds like preparation and planning.

I have already done a lot of planning for my book, Idle Hands, and in the coming days I’ll share those plans here so those of you who are planning on joining me on this writing adventure can see what a “planner” does to prepare for NaNoWriMo.  And I’ll also continue filling out my author profile by collecting more badges…

T-Minus 10 days until NaNoWriMo kicks off….



Categories: NaNoWriMo Tags:

Providing author info to websites

October 20, 2014 Leave a comment

The NaNoWriMo website finally “relaunched” and it became possible to provide author information and information about the book I’m planning to write in 30 days during November (along with hundreds of thousands of other participants).  So this posting will discuss the process of completing the “Author Information” portion of the profile to earn one of the “Participation Badges.”  Here they ask you for your location, your birthday, your hobbies, your favorite music (while writing), your website, your “StayClassy URL” (I didn’t know what that was, and there was no “help” or hint as to its meaning on the website), your occupation, your favorite books or authors, and your author biography.

Over the years at Outskirts Press, we have experimented with asking very few questions of our authors at the initial stages of “getting to know them” and a lot of questions at this initial stage and we have invariably discovered that very few people are comfortable sharing many details about themselves right off the bat, so I was surprised to find questions like these so soon into the NaNoWriMo author process, particularly the birthday, which is a security-risk question that we never ask our authors. I tried to just provide a  month and year for my birthday and it forced me to also include the day (so I randomly picked a number).

Anyway, here’s what I put for my author bio:

Hello everyone. This is my first time participating with NaNoWriMo as a writer, although our publishing company, Outskirts Press, is a previous sponsor of National Novel Writing Month.  Within 30 days, I hope to successfully write at least 50,000 words (I’m shooting for 65,000) of my comedy-thriller “Idle Hands.”

On a professional note, I have published three non-fiction books (Sell Your Book on AmazonSelf-Publishing Simplified and Publishing Gems: Insider Information for the Self-Publishing Writer), as well as an anthology of short stories, and two children’s books (One Wacky Wasp and Aidan’s Shoes).  My personal website is at

As the president and CEO of Outskirts Press, I am actively involved with a number of publishing and writing associations nationwide. I have a feeling time will be in short supply this November, but I hope to have enough left over to participate as much as possible with NaNoWriMo both online and offline. 

supportSpeaking of sponsorship, we finally heard back from NaNoWriMo about sponsorship, and they said they were full, which is strange, because according to the little graphic on their website, they appear to be about $700,000 short of their financial goals.

Next time, we’ll earn our first Writing Badge by announcing our novel to the NaNoWriMo community…

Categories: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo on hold ’til the 20th

According to the revised “notice” on the NaNoWriMo site, and specifically their event calendar, there’s not much going on in regards to National Novel Writing Month until the 20th, when the founder of NaNoWriMo (Chris Baty) is participating in a webinar.  So I’ll check back in a week and then hopefully their site will be updated with the 2014 campaign so I can complete the “badges” involved in registering. Then, in the days that follow leading up to November 1st, I will share some fiction plotting and outlining tips that I will be using for my novel Idle Hands.  These postings will hopefully help other writers as they prepare for November 1st, when NaNoWriMo officially kicks off.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Sleepless nights as a writer

Ncrest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbaNoWriMo is causing me to lose sleep already, and it’s only the beginning of October.  This is one of the reasons I’ve been reluctant to join in on the annual write-a-thon of writing 50,000 words in 30 days every November with thousands of other writers from around the world.  I have a little bit of an … addictive… personality.  That served me well when I was launching Outskirts Press in 2002 because I thought nothing of working 20 hours a day; and in the ensuing decade,12-18 hours a day helping writers successfully self-publish their books.

And now that I’ve committed to writing a book in a month, my mind is constantly abuzz with plot details, character details, even specific lines that specific characters will say at specific moments in the book.  I hope I remain this fanatical throughout November, but that seems like a long way away.

So I log-in to the NaNoWriMo site to attempt to create more of my profile, and see that I still cannot earn any more “badges” (more about that in a future post).

At least they’ve updated last week’s message to something new, which, in essence, says they’re experiencing technical difficulties.    If I remember correctly, they experience “technical difficulties” every year in October.  Perhaps that is the reason no one has gotten back to us at Outskirts Press about sponsorship.  Every year, Outskirts Press donates a percentage of our gross annual revenue to organizations. In the past these organizations have included The Children’s Hospital, the Make a Wish Foundation, the Education & Literacy Foundation, Colorado Humanities, and yes, even National Novel Writing Month. Rob in our Corporate Marketing dept. has been trying to contact them for a week or two now about giving them money this year and has received no response.  When you can’t even GIVE money to a company, you know they’re having difficulties, technical or otherwise…

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The NaNoWriMo book cover

Yesterday I mentioned I would be sharing my temporary book cover for the book I plan to write in 30 days this November during the National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo).  The book is called Idle Hands and the caption I’m toying with including on the cover says: “Two young millionaires. Too much time to kill. To hell with the American Dream.”   That … kinda… tells you what it’s about. And, of course, the title and cover provide hints, as well:


Categories: Uncategorized

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo next month

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbThe NaNoWriMo website still has the message that they will be “resetting” their website for the 2014 campaign this week, but that doesn’t mean I’m sitting idling by… I’ve been working out some character and plot details in my head (it’s keeping me from sleeping), and I’ve started to work on a cover for the book.  Some might say (quite accurately) that is putting the cart before the horse, but I’ve found that having a temporary cover helps me “visualize” the finished book being out there in the world, and that helps me write it.  Whatever, works, write?  I mean, right?   The name of my books is “Idle Hands” and other than a horror-spoof movie from the 90’s starting Seth Green, I didn’t find another creative property with that title, so unless I think of something better, that’s probably going to be the title I stick with.  I’ll have the cover mock-up this week to post.

More good news. Our Executive VP at Outskirts Press, Kelly Schuknecht, has decided to participate in NaNoWriMo with me this November. She “won” two years ago.  (“Winning” is NaNoWriMo’s way of recognizing participants who successfully write 50,000 words in 30 days).  Anyone else want to join us? Sign-up at

Categories: Uncategorized

Completing my profile on NaNoWriMo

Yesterday I signed up for NaNoWriMo, the annual “Write-a-novel-in-a-month” write-a-thon that hundreds of thousands of writers participate in every year.  The next step, according to their website, was:

3. Our user dashboard will usher you through the rest of your account set-up stuff. Click on the grayed-out badges to fill out your profile, say hello in our forums, and add writing buddies.

However, right now on their website, the message is:

From Star NaNoWriMo
Sent at October 03, 2014 10:18
Subject NaNoWriMo 2014 is coming!
Categories: Uncategorized

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