A question authors often receive is what is their writing process. Below takes you through my approach. As an overview, it is important to note that there is no correct answer to process and that other authors will have wildly different approaches. In particular, while I am a planner and plotter, others go in rather blind and let the characters dictate the direction of the story as they come to life.
For me, it is also worth noting that I treat writing as my job. As such, I get up every day, do my regular morning routine, get dressed (an important step for creating the correct mindset), and sit down to work. I take breaks, do chores and errands, eat lunch away from my computer, and shut down at the end of the day. And like any job, there are days where I have to work late, go in early, work through lunch, put in a weekend day, or any such thing. Those days are the exceptions and not the rule. Also like any job, some days are better and/or more productive than others, and I have to not beat myself up and just go on to do better tomorrow.
An idea begins to ruminate in my head, generally at quiet times or while in bed, but sometimes inspired by a news story or the like that I am reading. I begin to work out some plot points and ideas to refine the rumination and see if I still have interest over several days or months of playing around with the kernel. If it continues to engage me and holds in totality, I formalize it.
"Formalization" is a minor step where I take the ideas that have been nothing but ether and commit them to a note file. This begins the formal point of creating a new work. I will continue to work on this note file as new plot points come to me or a relevant article I have read applies and I want to go back and reference it.
Once I have decided to move ahead with a project, I write a complete "Outline". The Outline will run in the range of 25 to 30 pages and consist of character sketches, the overall plot, major scenes and what is supposed to happen in them, and notes on items that require further research. While I may do some research at this point, I prefer to do the research as I am writing the final product.
With the outline complete, I move on to the actual writing. This begins with what I call the "Shell Draft" in which I create a document that I will be writing the full manuscript in. I treat it like a final product, so it has a cover page, a table of contents, and headings for each expected chapters, sections, and other breaks.
After creating the Shell Draft, I then do a process of "Transference" where I take what was in the Outline and align it into the draft. Each chapter or section break will now align to the notes and points in the Outline and I will literally transfer the Outline into the Shell. It should be noted that I am not necessarily married to maintaining the Outline or Shell Draft exactly and am willing as I am writing to throw away, move, or add portions as needed.
At this point, I am ready to write. This drafting process I call the "Alpha Draft" and consists of writing the entire book. Generally, I prefer to write from the first page to the last, but I will deviate if an area is vexing me or another area is pulling me to fill it in ahead of time. Chronological writing will take up about 80% of my writing time. As noted, while I am writing I am also researching, so page productivity can vary wildly.
Additionally, as I am writing I will go back and re-read the chapter, section, or whatever component I have just completed--editing for grammar, spelling, consistency, tone, and clarity. Whether writing in order or out of order, I often go back and add components to reference what is coming in the future, or to prepare for them, creating more cohesion. Even when the entire Alpha Draft is complete, I will re-read it in entirety and make further modifications.
In the months (years?) that go into the Alpha Draft, I will not have anyone else read what I have written. I may discuss points or areas of interest with my partner, editor, or others, but otherwise the only one who has seen my work is me. At this point, with an Alpha Draft complete, it is time to send it out to Alpha Readers to provide feedback and my editor for formal review.
Once I receive feedback from my editor and the Alpha Readers, I will then incorporate it (or not) into the "Beta Draft". As with the Alpha Draft, it is a process of editing, modifying, changing, and re-reading by myself. When the Beta Draft is ready, I may then send it out to Beta Readers (a different group than the Alpha Readers) and my editor for one last final check. Conversely, I may make all of these last edits myself without further feedback.
Based upon what comes back from Beta Draft, I'll finish any last modifications and give my approval for "Publishing". At this point, the product is done and will, when scheduled, be put out into the wild (a gross oversimplification of the 30-step process unto itself)! I will not plan to do any other edits unless errors are found that need correction. Otherwise, you will have the book available to purchase (and please do purchase)!