Three Day Novel Contest

The  Three Day Novel Contest is a great experience.
The Official Survival Guide has many good tips, so I offer these additional ones from my own nine years of entering the competition.

Make the contest work for you, with the maximum creativity and the least amount of stress.


I used them the first three years and later discontinued them. They were never more than 1 line per chapter.

The reason that I stopped was because halfway through the novel, the characters would develop in unexpected directions, and you have to let them – they know themselves better.

I start each contest with a clear idea of the roughed in character and what obstacles they are going to overcome and what the underlying message/theme is of the story.


Make food the day before, potato salad, chilli, or plan to eat canned soup, hot dogs, as balanced as you can, fast to prepare and consume.

Better yet, have a second person in the house to cook for you so you can wolf down good food and go away, but make sure they understand what you are doing and that you don’t have time for chatting, visiting, sex or anything. And they can’t be noisy. They must love to do quiet things. Like fan you and feed you grapes.

Avoid sugary and/or fried foods and keep caffeine to a minimum. These will make you dopey, stimulated and you will not be able to sit and write. Fresh fruit, veggies and low fat protein.


Take a break every two hours. Your second person comes in handy to make you. You must get up and move – just 20 mins, around the block, to get the juices flowing in your body. You need to stretch and increase your oxygen levels.


There’s no sense starting midnight on the Friday, just go to bed early ans start Saturday morning. Do not muck with your normal body patterns.

The goal is 120 pages by Monday. You can also do 100. Set a specific page count and divide the time.

Each day there are three major writing sessions, so, using 120 pages=

Breakfast to lunch = 12 pages

Lunch to Dinner = 12 pages

Dinner to bed = 18 pages

= 40 pages in 1 day x 3 days = 120 pages

Now, if you get more than the quota, it’s bonus time, but don’t stop because you will experience:


I had this down to a science. the first couple of years, this could take most of Sunday, usually from 10:30 to 7 pm.

The last time I wrote the contest, I had this phase down to 10:30 to 11:15.

Dealing with the I’m a hack – well. … you have to accept that you are not, otherwise you wouldn’t write the contest or care about writing which is really about communicating with other people. You are a writer, and that’s because you have something to say, not because you’re chasing the Hollywood dream bucks.

Don’t edit your writing. This usually brings on the I’m a hack – just write.

If you have a second person, their job come mid-Sunday is to read your writing – edit for typos, story arcs, character – let them go away and do this, in between cooking for you and feeding you grapes.


This is actually a fun thing to do. Just remember, eat well, get your proper sleep, and pace yourself.

And, at the end, you will have a major bit of writing, that you can use to turn into a screenplay, or flesh out over the next year into a full length novel.

It’s the best kick in the pants a writer can get.

8 thoughts on “Three Day Novel Contest

  1. This is certainly a nice way of looking at the novel writing process. I do like the concept of writing a novel in 3 days, and it actually is possible as you have shown,will definitely try it. Thanks for sharing this, November is the month when all writers are at over drive indeed…I love it!

    • Anything is overwhelming, until you break it down to it’s component parts.

      It wasn’t until the third year that I started to plan out how to do the writing and stopped planning what I was going to write.

      When I managed the process of writing, it all fell together and the writing part turned out to be the easiest part.

  2. Wonderful guide. With plenty of great advice. It don’t ever write that quickly, I generally am happy to achieve three to five chapters a week, but even so a lot of those hints actually point me towards idiotic things I do without realising it. Of course then I hit a writers block and badness ensues. Anyway thank you.

  3. Holy crap. And I thought a month was going to be a challenge. Three days?? I’d have a coronary. Great tips too. Except the caffeine one. If I didn’t have that I’d be face down on the keyboard with the letter pressed permanently into my face. 🙂

    • My shortest novel for the contest was 87 pages and my longest was 153 pages. The last two years that I wrote, I completed what I wanted for the novel before the deadline of Monday midnight, just sticking to my page count breakdowns and letting the characters take the lead.

      I drink coffee and tea as well, you just need to be careful when you’re going to be less physically active to not over stimulate yourself with sugar, caffeine and fats – they all impact your brain’s functioning.

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