What I'm Reading Now: A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness (I told you I'd reread it)
My first draft of The Novel took five months. Though I'd use 'five months' loosely, because the first few months I spent maybe an hour or two every other day writing, then as I got more into it and the plot started to solidify, I'd spend more and more time until I was working a few hours every day, including weekends. It was fantastic. It was easy. I only hit one place where I couldn't think what to write next, so I threw in a fight scene. Problem solved.
When I'd finished, I had possibly the worst first draft ever written (both craft-wise and plot-wise, because let's face it... I hadn't read a book in over a year and who needs grammar, anyway??). But I was proud of my 68,000-word project. I'd written a book. And it had been so easy!
Fast forward 10 months, through hours and hours of painstaking revisions (2,857 of them, according to Word); eight beta readers; books on craft, grammar, and (most importantly) fiction similar to my genre. Through a fantastic editor who taught me more about the structure of a novel than any old 'Write Your Own Book!' er... book. The Novel is a whole new animal. Something I might actually be willing to let strangers read, soon.
I've started working on The Novel's sequel. Now that I (kind of) know what I'm doing, I'm thinking about things as I go along: What does this scene do for the plot? How/when should I reveal the secrets characters A and B are hiding to be most effective? How can I draw more similarities between the antagonist and my protagonist? I guess it's good to think (-smile-), in the hopes that I won't have so many changes to make in subsequent drafts. But it also means I'm spending more time staring at the page, wondering if I'm going in the right direction, wondering if this is a scene I'll end up cutting.
I'll find that happy medium soon, I hope, in which I begin writing again with reckless abandon, and save my worries for the next draft. But man, writing was so much easier when I had no idea what I was doing...