Wanna-be writers: I know you're out there. You have this idea for a great book. You have a manuscript in your desk drawer. You have a story outlined on your computer. You have a great character in your head. Maybe you see a book title and think, "I could have written that!"
Want to make it happen? Join NaNoWriMo. (If the link to their website is slow- keep trying- it's always busy at the beginning.)
I'm going to make a bold statement: without NaNoWriMo, I'm not sure my book would have been published. I used NaNoWriMo as my excuse/motivation to write every day-- I had to meet that 50,000 word count. It gave me the push I needed to finish the draft of the tough chapters so I could finally write my agent query and get the process going.
NaNoWriMo stands for "National Novel Writing Month" and is held every November. You start writing on November 1 and the goal is to have written 50,000 words by November 30. Their approach is all about quantity, not quality. It gets you over those self-editing, perfectionism, procrastination (insert your vice here) hurdles that keep you from writing.
You say you're not writing a novel? No excuse. Because here's a little secret: NaNoWriMo may bill itself as a novel-writing month, but no one has to know you're not working on a novel. The word count upload at the end is anonymous-- no human actually reads what you wrote. No one is going to contact you and ask you to remove yourself from the event because you wrote a memoir, a screenplay, a nonfiction book, poems-- or even a blog. No one has to know what you're writing if you choose not to share. And no one cares anyway-- they're focused on their own writing goal.
And NaNoWriMo makes it easy and fun. With daily local meet-ups, online chat groups, etc., NaNoWriMo is the perfect way to find others who enjoy writing (and reading since, quite frankly, the two need to go together). Through NaNoWriMo you can connect with local writing groups which schedule gatherings throughout the month. I particularly enjoyed reading their creative names-- my favorite was a group in College Station, TX which called itself: "Them's Mighty Fine Writers in Texas." That would have been a fun group to join I suspect.
I joined the local groups in Austin, TX which broke up my usual solitary weekend mornings at the computer. I met interesting people, drank lots of coffee (and ate a good pastrami sandwich at the local deli which served as the kick-off program). Writing is normally so solitary-- and NaNoWriMo makes it more social and fun. And even if you don't like the social thing, you can connect to writers around the world through their online groups. I joined an online group in Scotland (my heritage) just for fun and to connect with folks over there.
So what are you waiting for? Join NaNoWriMo. Today. Before it's too late. (And it's only too late if it's November 29.) NaNoWriMo is a wonderful month-long way to indulge yourself and make that writing fantasy come to life. It's the time to put away your excuses (yes I know you have no time, yes I know you have family issues, yes I know you're already working hard at your job...) and just say:
November is for me. I'm going to write.