I first heard about Nanowirmo about nine years ago. I hung out at a forum dedicated to CJ Cherryh's works. If I remember correctly it was named Shejidan. Most of the members were gearing up for Nov. 1 and they introduced me to the idea of writing a bad novel.
What a concept. I'd always wanted to write a book but never tried because I thought it would be terrible. The first and hardest thing each writer has to accomplish is to finish a manuscript. Doesn't matter how poor the writing or plot. Once the skeleton of the story is completed the writer can always work on it to flesh it out.
That year I made an attempt at my first 50k. I never reached my goal but I did get to 35k, more words than I'd ever written before. That story still lies somewhere on my bookshell. (I still write on paper. LOL) It won't ever get finished but the idea that I'm allowed to write badly was my first step to getting published.
I wonder how many other writers started with such simple inspirations. What got you started?