When I’m drafting my novels I think in threes: first draft is fast and lean and messy (remember Anne Lamott and shitty first drafts); second draft (aka revision) comes after I’ve had the chance to take a breather and then give my book a focused read so I can sense what needs expanding, cutting, honing, deepening, this time moving at a slower pace–remember that revision is seeing again with fresh eyes; if all goes well my third draft is about “housekeeping”–tidying up, freshening up, tossing out, and adding the final touches.
When I speak with writers, some new to the craft and others experienced, I am surprised by how often they are harboring the belief that a novel should come out close-to-perfect in one draft. So very not true. By drafting–sometimes revising three or four or more times–and working from beginning to end fairly quickly each time, you can avoid the trap of the “first fifty pages writer”: the writer who keeps working and reworking those first few chapters until she digs a rut so deep she cannot escape to complete the book.
So think in threes and escape the ruts. Happy drafting!