If you're an unpublished writer, you may have heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, also known as "November."
During November, a writer tries to write a 50,000 word in one month. To write, as the site puts it, with abandon.
I've never done this, because it's never fit in my schedule. Also, 50,000 words is about half the length of a historical romance novel, so...the novel wouldn't be finished in one month even if I met the goal. That said, I think it's a fun way to get people to simply sit down and write the dang book, the book they may have been mulling over and talking about for oh, say, years. And keeping track of the word count strikes me as similar to keeping track of my steps during my Weight Loss Challenge. It's a way to measure progress.
I note that Harlequin thinks this is a swell idea. They've organized a NaNoWriMo sign-up in the community section on their site.
That doesn't mean that whatever you come up during that month will be in any way publishable; it does mean, though, you'll have something concrete to fix.
So while I'm not going to participate this month (see above re schedule), I'm seriously thinking of declaring February MaNoWriMo - Margaret's Novel Writing Month. My current plan is to take time in January to make a rough outline -- because I think for something like this to work best, you need a plan -- and then spend February churning out the pages. I'm going to set myself a slightly different sort of goal, though. I'm going to challenge myself to write two scenes a day.
I'll admit that when I came up with this goal, I thought, "Whoooooa, Nelly! That's a bit much, isn't it?" But the idea of NaNoWriMo is to challenge yourself to get words on the page. They aren't "finished" words, or polished scenes. The idea is simply to get your butt in the chair and write.
The other reason to choose February? It can be one dark, snowy, depressing month. I could probably use the kick in the pants.