Friday, September 2, 2011

If You’re a Writer NOTHING is Unimaginable


How to survive the 3 Day Novel Contest & Other Impossible Deadlines.

When I tell people I’m doing the 3 Day Novel contest, the typical reaction goes something close to this: They start by sharking their heads, and then follow up with, “I can’t even write a book in year—month—week—whatever.” Even from other writers, that I know for fact have written other books.

Since I have done the 3 Day Novel Contest before, I can tell you that it really is impossible—if you think about it too much and don’t just write. Don’t get my wrong, I spend a fair amount of time on the color coded outline (that I am still not done with) but I don’t obsess over the writing process, that would make you insane. That would make you quit before you ever even start.

Let’s break it down.

Make and outline or don’t make an outline?

People tout one or the other as the way to go, but I can tell you it’s really both. Go with which one you are most comfortable with, or the way you get the most success with. If you *never* outline, trying to make yourself stick to one now will only waste time and give you a serious headache. No matter how many people SAY you should do this even if you don’t normally you know what works for you.

Sleep, or don’t sleep?

Sleep, at least Saturday night. Want to maximize your hours? Take a nap after an early dinner Friday night, and wake up at 11:45 PM (earlier if you have trouble rolling out of bed) and don’t sleep until a slightly earlier bedtime on Saturday. In your coffee induced, adrenalin rush haze you might be tempted to just stay up, DON’T! It’s always easiest the first day. Plan on sleeping a normal amount of time on Saturday night. That way if you need more time you will be in better shape to stay up Sunday night.

Make a plan, or wing it?

If you are making an outline, even just a very basic one, you need a plan. Otherwise you can wing it. Note, a plan is not the same thing as an outline. You need to think of your book in terms of the beginning, the middle, and the end. Now since the 3 Day Novel Contest is 3 days that sounds like it’s almost perfect. Only you need to expect to be most productive on Saturday than any other day, and Monday being the day for playing catch up.So your numbers should look more like this as opposed to being 1/3, 1/3, 1/3


<-----Beginning------><-----The Middle-----><-------The End------>

Drink water, not wine.

Or you know, drink wine in moderation, but don’t forget the water. I tend to drink an unhealthy level of carbonated beverages while doing the three day novel contest. Then I follow all those down with my weight in coffee. All that drinking usually makes me forget water until I am already dehydrated.

Change your scenery, or live in a cave?

Live in a cave until you can no longer take the stench of it, then change your scenery. If I get stuck, I don’t sit there staring dumbly at my notebook—or computer screen. I change the song on the playlist, and if that doesn’t work I pick myself up and go somewhere else. That might just be to the living room sofa or the dining room table—but it might be to Starbucks or In n’ Out Burger… it depends on how stuck I am. Usually by the time I get up then get back on track I have come up with a solution or I forgot why I was stuck to begin with.

To Tweet, or to NOT Tweet?

I ask that question a lot, and for me the answer is always YES, TWEET. But if you have any doubts at all, don’t do it!

Stay calm or freak out?

There is never any need to freak out. I will even be shelling out some last minute alternative endings Monday if you run out of time. (Unless I run out of time)

Unplug from the Internet, or keep up with Angela Write Now for all of your 3 Day Novel Contest needs?

Trick question.


Anonymous said...

WHOA really awesome advice for any type of crunch writing...I do this "Write a play in 48 hours" thing and actually a lot of your advice is applicable (and will be utilized).

Thanks so much for writing and sharing- and best of luck (um totally wanna read that novel when it's written and ready).

The Writer said...

Wow, chica! There's no way I could do that! You are brave. lol

Lauren Smith said...

Is there any statistics on novels written in 3 days that actually get published ?

Angela Kulig said...

Lauren, I know it will be better than 1 in 550--because that is about how many entrants there are in the contest this year and the winning manuscript gets publication! So better than that. I know agents who get far more query letters than that a month so I consider it to be pretty good odds ;)

Anonymous said...

You're braver than I. I have problems with doing NaNo. I'm not sure I could do the 3-day Novel challenge. :)

Deborah Walker said...

I guess you're busy today. What a marvellous idea.

erica and christy said...

i didn't even know there was such a thing! and i thought nanowrimo was nuts! fellow campaigner who is finally making the rounds! i've not finished a novel in three months, let alone 3 days. go you! christy

Melissa Cunningham said...

Love this post and the look of your blog. Very fresh. I may have to try the 3 day approach. That might be kind of fun!