I believe it's true that writers are always working even if they're not physically bringing words to the page--we mull, we collect ideas, we observe--but, at a certain point, thinking about a book we'd like to write can turn into something more like a missed opportunity than a book about to happen.
If you've thought about starting a novel without undertaking to make this happen in an appreciable way (creating copious piles of post-it notes does not count as appreciable, I am sorry to report), you might be interested in learning about an online workshop designed to jolt you into actualization. I'll be teaching Starting Your Novel at the University of Louisville in the Fall 2018 semester. Here's the official course description:
Every novel begins with a great idea, but not every great idea makes for a compelling novel. How do you know if your idea is strong enough to sustain a book-length work? What are the tried-and-true methods for transforming ideas into pages? In this online workshop, the focus will be carefully laying the groundwork for the composition of a novel. Students will pre-write their way through a cast of characters, major plot points, and thematic concerns; they'll learn the value of an outline; and they’ll experiment with voice and point of view. The course will culminate in the drafting and workshopping of a substantial novel excerpt.
And here's the inside skinny: If the idea of writing an entire novel in one semester gives you the big anxiety, don't fret. This course is about giving yourself the best shot at writing the kind of pages that will ultimately carry you into first-draft territory. And, oh, what a glorious place that territory will be.
The course number is ENGL 599-50. Registration is now open. Employees of the university will receive a substantial discount. Currently enrolled grad and undergrad students are welcome. It'll be fun and revelatory. Join us!