Posted by: oneyearbook | March 31, 2009

Get your novel on

This year’s 3-Day Novel Contest has opened for registration. For those of you who don’t know, the contest is what it sounds like: you get three days (it’s the Labour Day long weekend) and you write a novel during that time. You send it off and each year a winner is chosen and then published. For the writers out there who are always saying ‘I don’t have time,’ or ‘I don’t know if I could get it done,’ the contest is a really good way to both show that a small amount of time can be enough and that yes, in fact, you can get it done. Maybe not all that well, the first time around, but still, it’s done. Winning is not really the point, although of course it’s a bonus.

I did the contest in 2004, the first time in a long time that my Labour Day weekend wasn’t taken up with carting carloads of things to the residences at the University, as I was taking a break from school and saving money to travel at the time. It was interesting – I don’t drink coffee, and I didn’t really drink tea at the time, so I did it without caffeine, which I wouldn’t again – and the end result was so, so messy, a piece of speculative fiction in which the characters were identified only by their defining trait (the girl, the brother, the mother, the grandmother, etc.) instead ofย  a name and which sought to create a believable post-apocalyptic universe without first creating a believable apocalypse. It was called ‘Jam, a novel of the suburban apocalypse,’ and it was about 90 typewritten pages.

Anyway for the last few years I’ve wanted to do it again but have had to work during the weekend in question because that’s when the local agricultural fair happens. Two years ago I applied to be on a reality TV show based around the contest, in which a selected number of contestants would actually write their novels while being filmed and doing a number of side competitions in front of a studio audience. I got called in for a screen test and I’m pretty sure I came across as entitled, mildly bitchy, and not particularly camera-charismatic. I wasn’t chosen to be on the show.

This year I’m definitely going to tackle the contest again – it’ll come at just the right time to give me a break from my novel, which at that point, I will probably loathe – and I am hoping, barring any unforeseen circumstances, to live-blog the experience as well.



  1. This is almost like a miniature NaNoWriMo (which I did for the first time last November). I’ll prod my other writing friends about it and see who’s up for the deal.

    • Yeah, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo – I gather you’re supposed to write a 50,000 word novel in November? That seems challenging … I’m hoping to finish my first 50,000 words in one month, but they certainly won’t be a single, coherent, plotted unit.

      • It’s more like a first draft. 50K or more. I acquainted myself with several others who wrote 100K +. I only achieved 33558 words last year, due to several factors, the least of these certainly not being the matter of procrastination. The fact that I went into it with no prior planning, well… that can work for you or against you, depending.

      • Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants in NaNoWriMo. Amazing.

  2. Only you would consider writing a novel in a weekend a “break” from writing a novel in a year. LOL

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