Each November, the http://www.nanowrimo.org/ has a "write a novel in a month" challenge. Last year, I took that challenge and won. (Winning doesn't constitute anything except that you actually wrote 50,000 words during the 30 days - but it's a confidence booster.)
I used that as a starting point, continued with numerous edits through the winter and spring and my novel Patchwork of Me was born. That novel is now sitting in the hands of a few publishers trying to find a home.
This is a great organization that not only encourages writers, but creates a network of people that authors can check in with so you don't feel that 'you are alone." Writing is such a lonely art form that it is very helpful to have others to turn to when you just need a pick-me-up. It's also a great way to challenge yourself to get your wheels moving. Recently, I hit a wall with my latest novel, but something happened when I returned from my vacation. Something about the fall air outside got my juices flowing in my brain and I'm happy to say I am back in full swing this week. My body clock may be off (causing me to wake at strange times in the night) - but those hours awake have been put to good use with listening to my characters drive my story along.
To all those taking the challenge again this year: I say kudos to you! It's only early in the month and you can do it if you put your mind to it. Write! Write! Write!