I joined Internet Writers Workshop right after I replaced my 1982 Tandy TRS-80 -- disc operated -- computer with a laptop, in 1996. Internet service had just become available in the Clark Fork River valley in northwest Montana. Living in a remote mountainous region has many perks, but ISP hadn't been one of them.
As a member of IWW, reading submissions and comments, I quickly felt overwhelmed, not to mention inferior. Determined to connect with the writing world, to learn all I could, and to expand my world, I hung in there.
Many wonderful opportunities resulted, and I hope what I learned will be helpful to you, as well.
I understand being overwhelmed when you join IWW! My strategies can help.
First, join only one of the lists offered at a time, until you're comfortable that you can handle more.
I set "Writing" list to Digest, so I get one post a day, and quickly scan it to find tidbits that I have time for.
How to get started? I found it easier to simply LURK and read Writing Posts, Subs and Crits for a while first, to get a feel for what's expected.
Because "NonFiction" is the only list I'm on (besides "Writing" which is mandatory), I find SUBs generally space out enough I can (usually) keep up, and still find time for my own writing.
And of course, I do not attempt to CRIT or read every SUB. (or read every CRIT - even though reading the CRITS is remarkable for learning purposes.)
How does one decide what to write about?
It's good to experiment when you begin writing, because that's the only way to learn what you are interested in writing. Success comes by doing what you love most to do.
I learned the bulk of what follows from my membership in IWW, so I incorporated it with my years of previous writing experience. People who have followed advice in "Access The World And Write Your Way To $$$" ,a writing resources course, say they learned what they wanted to know by studying what it offers.
Caution: You need to be selective and study only what you want to learn to meet your goals. I began gathering the best of the best that's free about a dozen years ago, and put it online last year. Some links will be dead by now, I'm sure, as I usually update it frequently, but haven't in 2011.
I originally designed the course (sent via emal) to be 10 weeks, with 21 chapters + handouts from Pros.
Links will take you to what you're looking for, and after putting it online I've tried to make it as easy as possible to navigate.
Whatever you do, don't feel overwhelmed or get discouraged.
Keep writing and you will succeed!! Good luck!