Well, tomorrow is November 1st. That means it’s time for NaNoWriMo, once again!

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.

Originally started in San Francisco in 1999, the month of November was chosen to “fully take advantage of the miserable weather.” I feel like that’s perfect, especially since writing can be such a miserable task.

Last year I participated for the first time and was successful in writing a book that I’d wanted to write for the past 10 years — tentatively titled The Last 40 Days with My Father.

It was a deep wound for me to open back up (probably why it took me so long) and it was almost equally daunting to think about writing 50,000 words.

But I did it.

The way I did it was by having accountability and setting small goals.

The way NaNoWriMo works is you enter your daily word count (it breaks down to 1667 words a day) into your project which shows where you stand in comparison to the average pace, others in your community, or friends that you follow. Popular writers chime in periodically with tips that have helped them. People initiate “writing sprints” to join together to push past any hurdles.

To put it simply: it’s the community.

I’m not sure if it’s the community cheering each other on, or the healthy competition it harbors, but nothing is more motivating sometimes than seeing the people “beside you” working their butts off to reach their goals.

This is a practice becoming more and more common and the internet makes it possible for us to connect with people all over the world that share our goals.

A friend of mine, Ed Checo, has recently used this model to encourage people to try a 3-day water fast (fun fact: that also starts tomorrow!).

There is probably a Facebook group for just about anything in the world and they all serve similar purposes: to bring people together to help attain a common goal. Sometimes that goal is fitness related, sometimes it’s a creative project, and sometimes it’s just to answer questions that we have in our lives.

The point is that it’s all about the people.

Even though we’re so quick to point out how disjointed and divided society seems right now, the fact remains that we are constantly seeking out connection. We long to have people close to us in our journeys even if we are technically on those journeys alone. Don’t be quick to make the mistake of thinking that a virtual relationship is not as profound as one “in real life.” What makes a relationship real is a strong connection between the hearts and minds of people and that can be achieved in a myriad of ways in 2018.

The small(er) daily goals just make it more manageable to climb that mountain, whatever your mountain may be. I knew the whole book I wanted to write last year and I know the whole book I want to write this year. But after waiting 10 years to write one and five years to attempt to write the other, I needed something better to put it into action.

Baby steps, y’all. It’s always about those small, but steady, steps.

I’ve tried writing screenplays and other books before and always failed. The only thing that has worked for me is to have a little milepost to hit every day (or week, or whatever). Not only does it allow me to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it also gives me that great feeling of achievement (albeit in a smaller dose) that lifts my confidence. Confidence is everything when attempting to do something that your head is telling you is impossible. Every little bit counts.

So tomorrow, even though I will be on vacation, I will sit down with about 400,000 other people not necessarily trying to write “the great American novel,” but trying to fulfill a promise they made to themselves long ago.

If there’s a goal you have, there’s a community out there that will help you.

Find it, and get going.

Picture via Rain Bennett

Rain Bennett is a two time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, fitness professional, public speaker, and writer. His mission is simple: to help people realize that they too can be great, no matter where they come from or what they start with. It just takes passion, persistence, and a plan.

Bennett directed and produced his first feature length documentary in true indie fashion by traveling the world with only a backpack and a Canon DSLR camera. That film, Raise Up: The World is Our Gym won “Best of the Fest” at the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC and received global distribution through Red Bull Media House. He’s been featured in publications like Men’s Health and Sports Business Global and is a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle. When he’s not making movies or training clients at Sync Studio in Durham, he’s hosting a new webseries called The Perfect Workout Show.