My favorite part in the writing cycle is finishing the first draft because it is my first peak at the story’s potential. I always start with an outline, but so much of the book comes together during the first draft. I’m constantly surprised by all the new connections I find when I’m in the process of actually writing.
There’s an old debate about whether you should be a plotter (you already know everything that will happen before you start writing) or a pantser (flying by the seat of your pants). I’m happiest as a plotting pantser. I need to know where the story is going, but I’m usually delighted to learn about the main character’s hair color or mother-in-law during the first draft.
Finishing the first draft is when I can step back and see how everything looks — enjoy the beauty of the vista…. before putting my hiking shoes back on for that arduous second draft.