Not everyone has the time to sequester themselves for months to write a novel. For me, I prefer to write in short spurts.
It’s wise to map out where your story is going, beginning, middle and end. And writing an outline isn’t a bad idea. A study of your main characters will give you an idea of their personalities, and how they would react to different situations.
Oddly, having this map offers creative freedom. Like following a path, you can still deviate to check out a lake or waterfall. Because you have an outline in place, you can easily find your way back to the trail.
Once I have the preliminary stuff done, I begin the chapters. Often writers will write their first draft straight through, and return to start the editing. I prefer to treat each chapter like a short story by re-writing and editing before moving to the next. That way, each writing session feels fulfilling.
Happy with the chapter, I feel encouraged to return, even weeks later, to continue the story. This is what works for me. However, after the book is complete, I still go back and edit a lot.
Think about what writing approaches work for you. Borrow from the suggestions of other writers to find what resonates, and establish your own method. Once you have a comfortable routine, you’ll find it easier to get the job done.