When I first started writing, I wrote when I felt compelled or inspired, and I let my ideas flow and be my guide. Somewhere along the line, I started to plot and outline, and then I learned I wrote better if I plotted, so from then on I did just that. Another experience forced me to write a lot of words in a short time period, and I then learned that if I started writing by a schedule, I worked more efficiently. I also learned that I could achieve X number of words per day if I set my mind to it, and I set that as my reasonable-yet-challenging daily goal.
Some of my process has remained unchanged. I always write from beginning to end - I have tried writing scenes out of order and that doesn’t work for me, so my first instinct was right there. I also don’t write well at night. I have tried, believe me, I have tried. It just isn’t for me. I would rather get up early than stay up late. I also don't write well with music playing in the background - too distracting!
I think when it comes to any job or responsibility, there is an element of trial and error, a learning curve where you work out the kinks and figure out how you work best. Usually once everything starts to click, other good things follow, and at the very least, the process feels more manageable.
So how about you? How do you write best?