How many unfinished manuscripts have you got in your desk drawer or secretly buried somewhere in a filing cabinet? When was the last time you worked on your book? Was it so long ago that you spent your writing time re-reading instead? And then once you started re-reading you ended up editing? And then revising? And then changing? And then more revisions? Until finally you just gave up?

If this sounds like you — then you sound like me. But I have found the secret for me. Maybe it's the secret for you.

It's called a Book in a Week Challenge. There are at least two sites that I know of who provide this service for writers. Here's how it works:

During the one week challenge you set a daily page goal for yourself. If you want to write just 3 pages a day, or 30, it doesn't matter. The challenge is with yourself to set a reasonable goal and achieve it. You don't do yourself any favours if you set an unrealistic one, or compare yourself to others on the challenge.

Starting on the Monday morning from 8:00 a.m. (your time zone) until 8:00 a.m. the following Monday, you write. No revising, editing or complaining about how bad it is. Just write! Turn off that internal critic — you know the one that says, "This will never work," or "That's a cliché", etc. Just write and keep writing.

For me, I finished my manuscript in 36 hours of writing over a period of 3 days. BUT, I warned all my friends, family and business clients that I would be unavailable during the week unless it was an emergency. So I was able to just keep going if I was on a roll....

At first it was TOUGH! And I mean tough. I wanted to rewrite every line I wrote. And to be honest, a few times I cheated. I had written myself into a corner and so I deleted several pages and rewrote the scene. But basically, I still just wrote.

By about chapter 4, I was starting to have fun. By chapter 7 I was on a high — I had never gotten past chapter 5 in all my previous manuscripts. By chapter 10 I was feeling sad as I was nearing the end of my book.

I was filled with mixed emotions when I typed THE END. It was a goal I thought I'd never achieve, yet I was very sorry to say good-bye to my characters. The intense three days with them had been a wonderful experience. It was like having old friends drop in for the weekend and share what had been going on in their lives since the last time I had seen them.

Because the story was done in such a quick time period, I was able to remember events and maintain a continuity within the story. This really restricted problems that would need major revising later.

Best of all, I finally had a completed novel that I could work with. After all, it's difficult to fix a blank screen. I've noticed that my revisions are more coherent and there are less of them!

Now you may wonder just how good this book could be since it was written in such a short time. Me too. After all it was just too much fun writing it. So I gave it unedited, unproofed to a professional to ensure I was accurate with certain details. He read the book in an afternoon and was very impressed. When he called to tell me that there were just a few things that needed to be fixed, he also praised my writing and my book.

He must have been telling me the truth because I've heard from other people about how impressed he was. And I didn't believe him, thinking he was just being nice. By the way, this guy has written most of his life and is currently marketing several books he has written.

I know my ms. isn't perfect — but at least I have something to work with. Taking the book in a week challenge was the best thing for me. The confidence I gained is worth more than any thing — well except for a book contract!!

So, my friend, you've struggled long enough. It's time to take up the challenge — the book in a week challenge that is! Sign up at Painted Rock or Melinda Goodins' site.

Members of the challenge will support you every step of the way. This challenge is free and it will free you from fear, your internal critic and feeling like a failure. Please do this for yourself. Take a week off work if you can, or stay home every evening after woork. You've got a book inside you that needs to come out. So let it.

All the best my friend.

Let me know if the challenge works for you.

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