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3Day Novel Survival Guide (Thanks to Pam L Smith)

The 3Day website has its own writer’s survival guide for this coming weekend, but I was tickled pink to be directed to another blogger’s website last Monday. I love this and with her permission, I am able to repost it for my own readers! 🙂 Who knows? Maybe some of you are 3Day Novelists.





For The Writer

  1. Make an Outline! Some people can write without one, most will fail. When you are under pressure and you can’t get the words to flow, your outline will save you.  If you don’t have an outline you’ll spend FAR too much time thinking and not enough time writing.  Either your word count or your story will suffer…possibly both. I know this from experience. Further, an outline will give you the freedom to write scenes out of sequence if you get stuck. This can help free up the creative flow.
  2. Do your research BEFORE you start writing: If you have an outline, you should know what research you need to do before you start.  The same thing goes for characters.  Know them and their motivations before you sit down to write.
  3. Get into the writing and stay there! Don’t stop to look up the spelling of a word or to search for a synonym in your thesaurus.  Highlight the word, or underline it, and come back to it after the story is done. Once you are finished, you can back track and fix it. Trust me, every time you leave the story, it will be harder to get your flow back.  Stay with the characters as much as you possibly can.  At the end of the weekend, if all goes well, you won’t remember what happened on twitter, or on-line, or in your house, or with your friends.  You’ll still be immersed in the story.
  4. Shut off the Internet! Set yourself goals of specific periods of time that you will write without stopping. Some set a goal of 5 hours, others as little as 1 hour at a stretch. My magic number is 3 hours.  I set an alarm and write without stopping until it goes off. I then allow myself 30 minutes for a break to eat, pee, check twitter, and do research (if something has come up that I didn’t catch in the outline)
  5. Sleep! Try to get at least 5 hours of sleep each night or you will crash and burn on Day 3.  There may be times where you keep going into the night because the muse is with you and it must be written. That’s fine…go for it!  However, if you stay awake for 72 hours, what you write in the last 24 hours will be ridiculous and incoherent.  Yes, I know this from experience too.
  6. Stop half way through your sentence when you take a break! When you return to your work, it will be easier to get the flow going again. For some reason, a period is like a stop sign to me. If I come back and try to start writing, it’s almost as bad as starting with the first sentence all over again.
  7. Eat! In particular, have quick easy meals that can be cooked in under 10 minutes.  My favorites were of the frozen bagged meals in minutes kind. Easy and quick to heat up. That doesn’t mean you have to eat crap.  I had meals like portobello mushroom and asparagus tortellini and they were both delicious and nutritious.  For snacks, keep some high energy low glycemic snacks close by and eat every 2 hours or so…even if it’s just a small handful of almonds.  Bananas…another great food.  Sweet and full of potassium!
  8. Have a private space to write!  This is critical.  If you are in the living room with your family, there will be too many distractions.  I have an office at home with a door I can close. On Labour Day weekend when I’m writing, they are only allowed to come into that room to bring me food and water. That’s it.  It’s not important where you write…just that you be alone and relatively comfortable when you do it.
  9. Set goals! The 3 Day Novel Contest has a great breakdown of where you should be at the end of each day.  Read it. Then set reasonable goals for yourself.  Set a minimum goal and a maximum goal.  Shoot for the maximum goal but be happy if you can only get to the minimum. Submissions for this contest can run from 12,000 words to 50,000 words.  The average submission is 100 pages or about 25,000 words. Your minimum goal should be close to that…though 20,000 words will get you that 100 pages if you write lots  of dialogue.  I recommend setting your low goal at 8,000 words per day and your high goal at 15,000 words per day based on what was being tweeted during the contest.  This seems to be a reasonable target.  Don’t give up if you miss a target, either keep writing until you hit it or get some sleep and increase your goal for the next day. Set a goal to finish by 6pm on Sunday.  You will want some editing time to go back and fix those highlighted words and re-read for plot holes before midnight if you can.
  10. Do what works for you!  If all else fails, throw all these tips out of the window and just do what works for you.

For Friends and Spouses

  1. Please don’t make plans or invite people over to visit.  Please also divert any well-wishers who show up unexpectedly. Time is precious while we are writing and every interruption will make it exponentially harder for us to finish.
  2. Please slip food under the door on a regular basis so we don’t starve.
  3. Please don’t comment on how bad we smell. We don’t have time to shower (see point #1 above)
  4. Please don’t come in to kiss us, hug us, or otherwise tell us how proud you are that we are doing something so amazing (see point #1).  We’ll be happy to accept your accolades after the contest is over.
  5. When we wander aimlessly about the house looking for something we’ve lost but don’t recall what it was…just put us to bed and set the alarm for say…4am. Also, please put us to bed if we start talking to inanimate objects…even more important if they start to talk back.
  6. Please don’t plan any activity for yourself between 6pm and 10pm on Day 3. We need you to read the manuscript and point out an gaping plot holes, spelling mistakes and so forth.
  7. Please remember that this is a first draft written in 3 days. Be nice. Do not say ANYTHING other than how wonderful the manuscript is.  You can of course, provide us with the information requested (see point #6)…just be REALLY nice about it. The manuscript is supposed to be crappy. That’s what re-writes and edits are for.
  8. Don’t ask us if we think we will win. We don’t have a magic 8 ball. However, it goes without saying that we WANT to win.
  9. Spouses: don’t ask where the children’s (socks, pants, books, toys, games, cell phones, etc) are.  Keep looking, you’ll find them. Refer to point #1.
  10. Understand that we truly appreciate everything you do for us while we sequester ourselves over the weekend.  We’ll thank you afterwards (refer to point #1)

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