Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Novel in Three Days?

Can it be done?
I wrote my memoir in nine months and really, all that's in place is the scaffolding. Most writers take at least a year, if not much longer, to produce a work worthy of publication. But 3 days? What do you think? Could you write a novel in three days? Would you even bother trying?

These are the questions I have asked myself lately, because registration for the 32nd annual 3-Day Novel competition are about to close. And I am seriously thinking of entering. Just for the sheer hell of it. I mean, could I really complete a work of fiction in three days? Could I write my brains out for 72 hours straight? Am I just mad enough to find out? I think the answer might be yes.

Here's what it's about.

(The info below is taken straight from the 3-Day Novel website)

Can you produce a masterwork of fiction in three short days? The 3-Day Novel Contest is your chance to find out. For more than 30 years, hundreds of writers have stepped up to the challenge every Labour Day weekend, fuelled by nothing but adrenaline and the desire for spontaneous literary nirvana. It’s a thrill, a grind, a 72-hour kick in the pants and an awesome creative experience. How many crazed plotlines, coffee-stained pages, pangs of doubt and moments of genius will next year’s contest bring forth? And what will you think up under pressure?

How It Works: The contest takes place every Labour Day weekend (usually the first weekend in September), as it has since 1977. You can read the rules for complete details, but here’s the basics:

Entrants pre-register by mail by the Friday before the contest. You are allowed to prepare a brief outline ahead of time. (There are no set rules on this, but the briefer your outline, the better the creative experience.) The contest runs on the honour system—this has always worked well because the contest is first and foremost a writing experiment and so, as the saying goes, cheating only harms the cheater. (Plus we can tell if you cheat.)

Entrants write in whatever setting they wish, in whatever genre they wish, anywhere in the world. You may start writing as of midnight on Friday night, and must stop by midnight on Monday night. Then you print up your entry and mail it in to the contest for judging. (Submitting your manuscript is not required, and many entrants do not, preferring to use the contest as a personal creative tool. We recommend you do, though. We like to see what everyone came up with, and it makes it a more complete experience for you. Plus you never know… even if you don’t like what you produced, the judges might.)

You Get Published: Our panel of judges from the writing and publishing community reads and rereads the submissions and picks the winners. We announce the judging results the following January, hand out some prizes, and send a fancy certificate to everyone who delivered a novel. Then we publish the winner!

True Rewards: The prizes are a good incentive, but the contest’s true rewards go to everyone who gives it their all: the 72-hour exile of writers block, bragging rights afterward, an amazing mental kick-start, and a shiny new first draft your novel.

The next contest will take place September 5-7, 2009. If you have questions or want to join our mailing list, send an email to Check it out over at for more info.

So what do you think? Am I completely mad, or does this sound like a great excuse to lock myself away for the entire long weekend and write, write and write some more?

What about you? What's the craziest writing competition you have ever entered? Or if you don't write, what's the craziest 'whatever-it-was' competition you have entered? Come on, I can't be the only Wild Thing out there! My husband is the local ice-cream eating champion! He's still (sadly) proud of that fact ;)


  1. Hahaa! Well, you're more wild than me. I've never tried to write a novel in less than four months. And I probably won't ever try it. I usually feel exhausted after 1000 words, so that's why. LOL

    You'll have to let us know if you do this. :-)

  2. Wow, 3 days?? I'd love to try! But with a little boy, there's no way I could even attempt it. Maybe when my kids are grown, I will attempt it.

    HEre's my question. How can the judges know if the novels people send in are actually written in three days??

  3. Oh boy! Like Katie said, it would be fun to do but I couldn't try it. Not with kids and all the other things in my life right now. I have written a novel in 10 days before. You'd probably lose a lot of sleep if you only had 3 days :)

  4. Without doing any checks, I think the record for a real, published book is about 2 weeks, from Isaac Asimov (of course). I have trouble imagining anyone doing a quality job faster than Asimov.

  5. The biggest thing that's holding me back is that I'm just not willing to pay the $50 entry fee... I'll wait until November and join the next NaNoWriMo instead!

    I would recommend NaNoWriMo to EVERYONE.

  6. Hmmm. Link fail.

  7. 3 days? Wow. My fingers would fall off from all that typing!

  8. This is write up my ally! ;)

    BUT I haven't the time. Dear me. mayhaps next year?

  9. I don't believe anyone can produce a publishable novel in three days, even if the word count is there. The experience might be fun, but I certainly wouldn't submit my work. There's always the chance (no matter how small) that you could win. Do you really want THAT piece of work published and representing your writing? I wouldn't.

    Lynnette Labelle

  10. Sounds like an awesome feat! I'd love to try it if I could outline thoroughly enough beforehand, and my hubby would tend to our daughter for 3 days straight!!!

    This sounds like NANO on steroids, too. I've attempted NANO before, but the month I did it was so weird (I got pregnant towards the end, so lost all my energy!) I didn't finish. :(

  11. I would never even attempt it! Especially on Labor Day Weekend when my entire family will be home. I know someone who is trying to write a novel in three months. That seems hard enough. Three days? Hmm...

  12. A complete novel in three days? I can't even do a complete story in 30 days, even when I do hit the word count goal of nano. Not gonna happen, especially not for $50.

    Although I may write along with the 3-day novelists and pretend.

  13. I couldn't do it. I've read stories of authors who claimed to written great lengthy works rather quickly and I always doubt them.

  14. Wow! Go for it! What do you have to loose! Absolutely nothing!

    I have the lame excuse that I'm a historical writer and I could never write an accurate historical if I didn't stop to research as I write!


  16. gosh, nerve-racking if i have to say so myself, but judging by the way you write, i think you can do it, and win, too!

  17. Go for it!!

    I couldn't stay awake that long to write even if I wanted to!

  18. Wow! thanks for all the comments guys.
    Donna, I agree, I am sure I will need to sleep for three days after writing for three days. Great to have you on my blog.
    Cherie- thanks so much. That comment made me smile REAL big :))

  19. Jessica- I don't know how many words I can out put yet. I have done 6000 in a day without trying. I get completely lost in the writing sometimes and just type away for hours. I am hoping that will serve me well.
    Katie- apparently they say that they know if the novel has been written in longer than three days because firstly a 3-day novel will need heaps revisions! Secondly it won't be that long. One dude submitted something like a 1000 page manuscript! So not possible in three days.

  20. Cindy- yeah, I think sleep would be very low on the agenda.
    Gary-I agree with ya, I am quite sure a three day novel would need heaps of work.
    ckhb- yeah I actually thought I'd do the nanowrimo thingo too. How's that for being a glutin for punishment?
    Stephaine- I may well need fingers reattached.
    Suzanne- why did I think that would be up your ally :)
    Lynnette- No I wouldn't want the first draft published at all. I am pretty sure the editors would work really hard with the winner. I think they judge more on having the bones of a great story in existence. I would hope so anyway.

  21. Lazywriter- that's where I am lucky.We don't have labour day weekend here. I'd be taking a three day weekend just to write. I think that's what attracts me.
    Melody- yeah the $50 is the down side. I don't know if I could actually do it. I am interested to find out though.
    T. Anne- I agree. I doubt them too.
    Jody- thanks for the encouragement. I may just do it.
    Matt- aren't you suppose to be working my man? :) WE ALL KNOW ABOUT YOUR TROPHY! ;)

  22. A novel in three days?! Yikes! I'm kind of curious about whether I could do it . . . it couldn't be a weekend though (husband underfoot and concentrate?! Impossible!).

  23. yeah I know what you mean inkslinger. Husband underfoot makes for no nice writing. Kids underfoot makes for no writing at all!

  24. Craziest 'contest' I entered... last year I auditioned to be one of 300 dancers in an advert for T-Mobile. I did it as a laugh, because I'm not a dancer, but I am a writer and can't resist a dare. Most of the other candidates were stage-school types, and the odds were stupid - they wanted 300 dancers and my number was 11,015. I got the part, and spent two weeks on a crazy adventure, rehearsing and filming, and wondering when I ws going to get found out. Brilliant experience. Not as cool as your boxing, though, Tabitha!