I’ve tried strict outlines and they haven’t worked, in the sense that after about 50 pages, I have another idea that’s better. Well, I hope it is. The first draft is extremely rough and sometimes tops out about 60,000 words. That’s when the real work starts as I see the shape of the story. That’s when I outline, listing what I have, what works, what doesn’t work, what’s missing, and what needs to be cut. That leads to more revisions. Sometimes, it takes me two revisions to hit the real voice of the story but once that happens, then it feels like I finally know what I’m doing.
I don’t have a set time to write because my household is not good with daily, rigid schedules. Sometimes morning is better, sometimes nighttime, sometimes while I’m doing the Mom taxi thing and have some downtime waiting for them. Those are the most productive times because I’m alone without interruptions. I also do a lot of daydreaming about the story, pondering certain story arcs, certain scenes, etc., so when I’m at the keyboard, I know what’s next, instead of procrastinating.
The final revision is a polish when I look up all my “weak words” as one critique partner called them. These are micro-edits, and I also polish to make sure I’ve got a clear voice for my character. Some come easy. Some come harder. For instance, Trisha in the upcoming “Above the Fold” has always been an easy voice for me, while Joan in my steampunk books takes time to sink into because she has so many layers hidden from herself.