3-Day Novel: Writing comes first
All week we've been looking into the 3-Day Novel Contest, a decades long tradition that yearly engages writers in a 72-hour sprint towards a completed novel.
Yesterday we presented a list of survival tips by former winners. We thought if might be interesting to hear from novices as well—men and women who have risen to the challenge and decided to fight the frustration and fatigue in the hopes of coming out with a complete manuscript.
Today we speak with Veronique Darwin about the power of "bum glue" and keeping a place in life for writing.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Véronique Darwin and I am a twenty-four year old writer and French immersion elementary school teacher from Vancouver, BC.
What do you write?
I am two years and six drafts into my first novel. I write a blog called A Novel Journal in which I document my writing process. I also write short stories and do a lot of “notebooking,” which is exactly what it sounds like.
What made you decide to sign up for the 3-Day Novel Contest?
I wanted to use the weekend before I start my first year of teaching to remind myself to keep a place in my life for writing. I love setting ambitious goals, like writing a novel. No wait, writing a novel in three days!
Do you know what you will be writing about?
I’m writing Cleo’s coming-of-age story. It takes place on one hot day in Portland when she meets and subsequently falls in love with a rock star. It’s a fanboy story told by a sober narrator.
Do you have characters in mind? An outline? An ending?
I gave myself a list of things to prepare for the weekend, but I write best with a vague outline (good excuse!). What I would like to prepare are the themes I want to explore and the characters who will explore them. It would also be great if I could have at the ready a brief, cohesive outline, preferably one that makes sense.
What else have you done to prepare for the 72-hour task?
I made a plan to house sit for a dog and a cat in a beautiful mansion with an oval-shaped office. I told the dog he won’t get many walks, and if he does, I’ll be crying on them. I've announced my intention on Facebook and on my blog, and I've paid the registration fee. Then I filled in this Q & A and there’s really no backing out now.
How do you plan to stay focused?
I will make a set of rules for myself (lax rules, ones that allow for a lot of cheating). These may include the amount of time allowed on Facebook and how much cereal I am permitted. I plan to separate my days into 1.5 hour chunks with a goal assigned to each chunk and a half hour break between each one. I will do yoga and meditation and maybe not drink too much.
What do you hope to accomplish by participating in this competition?
I hope to set the tone for myself as I enter a new career: writing comes first. I also hope to gain something in my other novel by writing this one. Maybe momentum, maybe a sense of wholeness that comes from writing something beginning to end in one weekend.
Read our "after" interview with Veronique.
What was the best writing advice you were given?
Bum glue! There is a lot of advice always running through my head, but bum glue is the one that helps me the most. So for one hour a day I glue myself to a chair and “do writing.”
Veronique Darwin is a 24 year old novelist, blogger and teacher from Vancouver, BC who is working on her first novel and taking precious, procrastinatory time off to write this one.