For those of you who write fiction -- or have ever wanted to try -- you have the next month to prepare for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, to participants).
NaNoWriMo is a non-profit event that takes place each November. It's not a competition -- at least, not in the sense of having one winner. It's more of a challenge. Participants register at the official web site and then try to write a 50,000-word novella entirely during November. You can't start any actual writing before Nov. 1, and you must have reached 50,000 words by midnight Nov. 30 in order to win the challenge.
That's a ridiculous, breakneck pace -- which is sort of the point. You don't have time to agonize about whether your work is good or bad; you have to just sit down and write and write and write, 1,667 words a day. When you turn off your internal editor, you will, without question, create a lot of silly and stupid content. But there will also be flashes of creativity that would never have happened if you'd had time to second-guess yourself.
After the month has ended, you can always go back and try to polish and rewrite what you've written. (There is even a National Novel Editing Month during the spring.) Or you can just consider NaNoWriMo a lark or a way to "prime the pump" for more polished projects in the future.
I have a self-published novel, a fictionalized version of my short-term mission experiences, which started out as my 2007 entry in NaNoWriMo.
You could try to speed-write a novel any month of the year, of course. But the point of NaNoWriMo is that misery loves company; the web site gives you plenty of ways to interact with other participants, through message boards or even at in-person gatherings in some cities.
The NaNoWriMo web site, nanowrimo.org, will officially relaunch on Thursday, so you can begin signing up to compete, comparing notes with others in the discussion forums, or what have you.
I don't believe there's a "municipal liaison" for Shelbyville, but there is one from Murfreesboro, and there may be some "write-ins" or social events for NaNoWriMo participants in the 'boro.
NaNoWriMo is a real hoot, and I strongly encourage anyone interested in writing to participate. I want to give it a try again this year, although I haven't yet come up with a good germ of an idea.