February 26, 2009

A Pre-Registration Check-In

A Note Before You Register

The 3-Day Novel Contest is an intense experience and often leads to intense emotions, particularly as the results are announced. The hard truth is that our judges read hundreds of great manuscripts but can only pick a handful for the shortlist, and only one winner. Many, many worthy and excellent novels must be cut over several judging rounds. We also do not offer feedback on your novels. The volunteer judges cannot give that kind of time, and we do not feel it is our place to tell entrants what to do with their novels, as the contest is first and foremost a personal creative tool.

Writing is very personal, and not being mentioned in the results can be tough. (We’re former entrants ourselves, so we know!) We’ve discussed doing away with judging, like NaNoWriMo, but in the end we decided that submitting your novel to be read is an intrinsic part of the contest, as it has been for more than 30 years. It’s motivation to finish, it completes the experience, and frankly, we think the winning novels are an important contribution to the literary universe.

So, before registering, be sure that you’re entering for the right reason—for the experience, not the prize. Remember not to put too much weight in the judging results, and give your novel the chance to be developed to its full potential regardless of its placing or not placing. Many 3-Day Novel entrants who did not make the shortlist went on to publish their novels or new versions of their novels, or they used the ideas to create something new. This is what the contest is about!

The Right Reasons to Enter

So if entering to win isn’t a good idea, why should you register? Here are a few good reasons to try the 3-Day Novel Contest:

  • To, in effect, “buy” yourself up to 50 hours of uninterrupted writing time (factoring in sleeping, eating and bathing—or getting even more hours if you do none of these things). The contest gives you a framework to put other commitments aside, turn off the TV and tell everyone to leave you alone.
  • To use the deadline pressure to kill writer’s block and kick out a first draft of that novel that’s been living in your head.
  • To take the kind of creative risks that you might not otherwise take in a normal writing project.
  • Just to see what will happen.
  • To have fun. (Even if it’s that kind of painful, body-breaking, marathon-running kind of fun.)

Stick with motivations like these and you’ll come out with a great experience under your belt and an original first draft to work with. And we’ll continue to have fun running the contest, because you won’t be sending us hate mail. Everyone wins! Long live 3-Day.

Ok, ok, I’ve heard your lecture. Now let me register!

Nerts to you. I’m doing NaNo.