A few weeks ago I finished a short story that I wasn't thrilled with. I decided that the 30 pages made a pretty good outline for a longer novel and have been trying to work it into such since then. I have a goal of getting a first draft written by March. This is a very short timeline, but I chose it because it seemed doable if I was dedicated and, because I'm not very invested in this story idea, if the first draft is putrid, it won't bother me very much.
I'd really like to complete a draft of an actual novel to get some practice and for confidence. It's worked a little bit so far. I used to struggle to write a 1,000 words and now I bust them out. I can do this writing thing! Anyhow, I thought the idea of a practice novel was original to myself (seriously, for about 5 minutes I thought I was a genius), but then I read in this month's Writer's Digest that Diana Gabaldon also wrote a practice novel that turned into a huge success! What an inspiration. Practice makes perfect!