February 7, 2014

Survival Guide: #1

Attitude: Correct and Self-defeating

First we must address the “mindset” or psychological condition of the potential contestant/author. This includes the conditions of the emotions and, as importantly, that of the spirit. 3-Day Novel Contest experience has shown the importance of proper balance and health in all these areas.

You should, as presumably you would for any marathon, be healthy physically. This includes being free from common colds, active allergies or even healing bones that are painful.
Pain may be a vital part of a poet’s life but not a novelist’s. As a novelist you are forced to simply remember more as the plot invariably lengthens and new characters are introduced. It is not uncommon for a character to die at the beginning of a 3-Day Novel only to attend the tension-filled wedding climax in a much later chapter.

Perhaps the most important part of attitude when approaching a 3-Day Novel Contest is that of humility. It is not, as one might understandably and mistakenly expect, aggression or verve or toughness or (as it has been known) a sheer murderous intent to complete a 3-Day Novel (of this latter approach it is almost always the entrant who dies and not the contest). Let’s face it, what you are about to do, really, defies reality for most people. As when in foreign lands, a slightly submissive, respectful attitude generally fares better for the traveller than a self-defeating mode of overbearance.
As one rather pompous contestant confessed after completing the contest: “I’ve been to Hell, and ended up writing about it.”