A dear friend came to visit the other day (just tell people you're a cancer patient and they start to show up). He's also a writer, although in a different field, so naturally the conversation eventually turned to the process. And my friend was, as he has been for some years, astonished at my process.
"You write mysteries," he said in the usual breathless tone, "and you just make them up as you go?"
I've posted here before about the difference between plotters and pantsers and I have identified myself as being strongly in the latter category. If I have the whole story plotted out in advance I'm going to lose interest during the writing process and the work will suffer for my lack of enthusiasm. So yeah, I told my friend, I just start off and see where it goes on any given day.
He couldn't believe that because his own writing process runs counter to what I was telling him. And we were both right. Except that he should believe that's what I do, because it is.
Writing is a hard enough job without imposing uncomfortable restrictions on yourself. If you're a plotter, you should undoubtedly work out as much detail as you need in advance. Use the 3x5 cards if you need to. Take notes. Write on cocktail napkins (has anybody ever really done that?). Draw diagrams. Whatever you need to make the creation of something from nothing possible, do that.
If you are, as I am, a pantser, be ready for anything. Have a basic premise and then start writing. Don't plan too far ahead. Figure out what will happen as it happens. Write yourself into a corner. See how you can get yourself out. Do that.
The point is that your process is exactly that--yours. I can't tell you how to write in the way that's best for you because the odds are I don't know you well enough. I can tell you that this is a hard job. Anything that works for you, that makes the impossible slightly less daunting, is what you should do. It's exactly the right thing for you.
Now, if you think you'd like the try the other person's process, that's fine. Give it a shot. The things you haven't tried might help you; there's no way for you to know until you dive in and try. If you try and writing is not easier, stop doing that and go back to what made you comfortable before.
Writing is not a natural thing. Virtually no other species does it, as far as I know. Most humans don't do it, and fewer do it professionally. Don't ever pretend it's just something that comes easily to you because it's not. So what works for you is the thing that is right for you.
Opening Day is 36 days away.