A lot of my friends are writers, so I get to watch them work. Each one has a different process of how they come up with characters, plot, and conflict. They especially work at different paces.
I have one friend who jumps into the writing immediately and isn’t satisfied unless she can accrue thousands of words on paper each day. I also have one friend who has to have a looming deadline (like days away) before she can sit down to write, and then spends complete days nonstop to meet that deadline.
I have friends who write and write and write and then when “finished,” go back to edit and trim their manuscripts. Others edit as they go, polishing each chapter to perfection before moving on to the next.
Some plot everything before typing a single word; some type and let the words create the flow of the plot as it forms on the paper. This is known as the plotter versus pantser (fly by the seat of their pants) conundrum.
I’ve had to learn the hard way as to what works for me. Until a few years ago, I hadn’t tried writing anything longer than three pages. I was good at pantsing my way through short stories, but then I decided to try write a novel.
I created the most awful mess pantsing my way through my first novel.
Novels take a different skill set. There are character arcs and tension and conflict. There are such things as exposition, narration, and the whole show-not-tell thing. All of this takes a skill with words and not just any words, but appealing words and compelling words and an accumulation of words.
I had to become a plotter.
I had to plan, outline, organize. I had to do research and count words. I had to learn to pace those words, so I came up with a workable word count to keep me on track. Since I have a crazy schedule, I decided a weekly word count would work best than a daily word count since it allows me to fit writing into available pockets of time throughout the week. As long as I get to my goal by Sunday, I know I have accomplished something. And so I plod along as I plot.