National Novel Writing Month is a well-known contest that challenges authors to write 50,000 words during November.
But Canada has been holding a similarly-themed writing challenge since 1977.
The 3-Day Novel Contest takes place every Labor Day weekend and challenges writers to produce a masterwork of fiction in 72 hours.
If this sounds like an insurmountable task, here are a few tips from past participants and winners of the contest whose winning books have been published by a series of small publishers, including Arsenal Pulp Press, Anvil Press and Blue Lake Books:
- Two-time winner Bradley Harris, who advises participants to pay attention to their writing process
- 2010 3-Day Novel Contest winner Jennifer K. Chung who thinks that adding a few sharks is the key to a good win
- Brendan McLeod, 2006 winner whose advice is to actually try NOT to win
- 2011 winner Kayt Burgess who believes in the importance of sleep to contest success
- Jason Rapczynski, 2008 winner, to provide some solid tips on how to mete out your writing time
- Mark Sedore, 2010 winner, offers tried and true methods for all authors
It isn’t too late if you want to get on the madness of the 3-Day Novel Contest. You can still register before the deadline, August 30, 2013, 11:59 p.m. PST. There is an entry fee of $50.
Author Bradley Harris successfully won the 3-Day novel contest in both 1998 (Red Ruby) and 2012 (Thorazine Beach).
He feels that by looking at your own writing process and determining what works and what does not work for you, you can successfully complete the contest.
“Just determination, a little sleep, and awareness of the parts of your process that make you produce the most and the best in tight time.”
Jennifer K. Chung
Jennifer K. Chung won the contest in 2010 with her novel Terroryaki!. Her solid advice includes keeping any distractions such as social media breaks and status updates to a minimum, such as after you’ve completed a specific amount of work.
It is also Jennifer’s belief that sharks are the new zombies, so if you can work a shark or two into your manuscript, you may strike literary gold.
2006 winner Brendan McLeod, the author of The Convictions of Leonard McKinley, thinks authors may be more successful in the contest if they try not to win and instead, set achievable goals that they can be proud of when the end of the contest rolls around.
“Something ambitious to keep you going, but not too ambitious that you’ll despair you can’t get it done.”
2011 winner for her novel Heidegger Stairwell, Kayt Burgess describes her experience as “Caffeine-soaked and ecstatic”.
Although she says the experience of writing her novel was intense and emotional, she feels that added to the raw and rough tone of her book, which is a faux biography about the rise and fall of an indie rock band from small town Ontario as written by their self-proclaimed muse.
“Winning forced me to finish a book in a short period of time and helped me overcome some of my anxiety.”
Author Jason Rapczynski won the contest in 2008 with his novel The Videographer.
He feels that preparing yourself, both with a solid outline that will help you know where your story will begin, and food, coffee, and using the deadline to your advantage.
He also offers some good tips on how to manage your time with the suggestion that you should try aim for an average of two pages per hour. He also suggests having 2 6-hour blocks of sleep over the weekend, with three hours left over for other breaks and after the first day, to adjust your remaining time and schedule accordingly.
Mark Sedore, the author of Snowmen and winner of the 2010 3-Day Novel Contest, sticks to some tried and true basic tips as a way to succeed.
Setting goals and meeting them (while taking breaks when you meet a goal), during preparation and research beforehand, and taking breaks and eliminating distraction when you get stuck or always does he was able to reach his goal.
“Always turn off your Internet; but turning off your brain while leaving your fingers on is maybe my primary piece of advice.”