In 2015, Doug Diaczuk did what he once thought was impossible – he wrote a 40,000 word novel in only three days.
His book Chalk went on to win the Three-Day Novel Contest, which takes place each year over Labour Day weekend, and was published by Anvil Press. The Thunder Bay-born writer, who has a Master’s in English, an HBA in English and History, and a minor in Philosophy – all from Lakehead, offered some advice for aspiring writers.
“You cannot write only when you have free time or when you feel inspired,” he said. “You have to make time for writing and writing takes practice, so it has to be something you work at every day.”
“It’s also okay if what you write is not very good - that’s not important. In fact, you should write as though no one will ever read it because that takes away some of the fear and self-doubt. Just write for you.”
Doug said the knowledge he picked up at Lakehead University helped him write his novel and his time writing for the Argus student newspaper helped prepare him to work as a reporter and photographer at the Thunder Bay Source.
Lakehead prepared me for my future in a variety of ways,” he said. “On the academic side, I learned proper research and critical thinking skills through reading and analyzing texts, conveying a clear and concise argument through essay writing and presenting seminars, how to take on a substantial project through the completion of my Master’s thesis, and assisting others through my role as a Graduate Assistant.
“My role outside the classroom with the Argus provided me with hands-on training in the many aspects of journalism, from conducting interviews, writing stories, editing, to layout and design.”
He applies these skills daily in his role at the Source. But, how exactly did he write a 40,000-word novel in three days?
“I didn’t really go into the three-day novel contest with much of a plan,” he said.
“I knew how the story would begin, how it would end, and I had some ideas for what I wanted to happen in between, but I didn’t have an outline or any notes prepared. I was basically making it up as I went along, which made the writing process a lot more interesting and exciting.”
Doug wrote approximately 13,000 words per day. By the end, he felt physically and mentally exhausted.
“Basically, every moment of that weekend was spent either writing or thinking about writing. I did take breaks for meals and I did sleep at night because if I didn’t, I would have burnt out after the first day,” he said.
Synopsis for Chalk
"You" and L, a mysterious third gender runaway, hit the road on a mission to find the meaning of life. Travelling by plane, bus and car, You run into trouble with the cops, mourn a family tragedy, smoke hundreds of cigarettes, attend a retirement party, come to terms with a broken heart, and discover that all roads lead back to where You started.