I'm currently writing the last in my Ninja series—BACK OFF, I'M A NINJA. And as I'm slogging through this book I can't help thinking it not like writing any of my other books. I'm only half way through and I've been writing since last October 2015 (I'm usually done with a draft by now!). The plot is crawling out of me in odd and ends, and I keep having to go back to add pieces I didn't know or skip forward to what I do know (I usually have a more linear approach!). It's a rare occasion where I've not met my own (or my publisher's) deadlines (Because of health reasons, but still!).
Basically, I've written over 20 novels at this point...and I'm still being surprised by my own "process."
I think a lot of authors, especially new ones, have this idea in their head that they have The One True Process that will work for them and their writing for their entire careers. I'm here to tell you to throw that idea out the window.
While we all have some consistency in the way we write, I can tell you without a doubt that the process for writing every single novel I've written has been different. Some have flowed out of me in a flurry of inspiration. Some have been worse than pulling teeth. Some have been organized with a clear plot path, others have been by the seat of my pants with heavy revisions. Some have been linear in writing, others have been very non-linear.
I tend to fight the process of a particular novel for a while. Like, I should have learned by now but I have to get to the point in every novel where I realize I need to embrace the particular process of THIS book instead of trying to force it to come out how I want it to.
Because when you just accept a novel's process, everything goes easier. When you just say, "Hey, the last book came out plot point by plot point, yeah, but this one isn't and that's okay!" ...That's when you're really going to start making progress. We can get so hung up on if we're writing the "right way" or not, but really I'm finding there isn't even a single right way for me personally to write, let alone any other writer's style. When drafting, whatever works is what works. And embracing the ugliness of that first draft and how to spews out is as important as accepting the revisions to come.
And revisions always have their own process, too. Some are smooth and light. Others are major overhauls. I've experienced everything in between those and then some. Facing a new form of revision, or unexpected amounts of revision, can be difficult as well. Whenever I get a revision letter from a crit partner or editor, my brain first wants to fight those points because changing them will be hard. But when I embrace the feedback and find the path to fix the issues, edits always turn out great.
So if you're struggling in either drafting or editing right now, I encourage you to find a way to embrace the process of your current project. Don't compare it to another project or wish it wasn't they way it is—just do the work that needs to be done in the way that you must. It'll turn out just fine, and you'll be a lot less stressed.
Now, back to this beast of the final in the trilogy for me!