I've read a lot of posts about the writing process, but not much about the life of a writer. Actually, a writer's life is great fun, we sit around the computer, drink a lot of scotch - or wine if the writer's a female, and tell jokes to one another.
For relaxation, we hie ourselves to the French Riviera or the Swiss Alps and regale each other with tales of woe about how badly our publishers treat us while we reach for another bite of caviar.
Typically, there are times of writing frenzy. Our muse stands behind our chairs, whip in hand, goading us forward until the story is complete. During that period, our lives are solitary, alone with notes and thoughts. Our characters keep us company and we guide their antics along as best we can. Sometimes, they take off on tangents that have to be clipped later.
Then comes the editing. Grammar errors, spelling errors, structural errors, plot holes, character inconsistencies, time line problems, red herrings all have to be excised. For me, that's the hardest part.
Then the research begins. What do the settings really look like, smell like, feel like? I had one character stop to buy a new car, and before the story was done, that car line was taken out of business, so every reference to it had to change.
If it's a period piece, are the characters wearing the right clothes? In one scene set during WWII, I had Eva Peron dancing in a Dior gown, straight from Paris. Unh-uh. During the war, most fashion houses either closed or were moved to Berlin by the Germans. So the gown had to come from Berlin.
Then the story is complete, right? Not yet. The story has to be examined for consistency, redundancy, and every scene has to have a purpose. Many lovely scenes have been deleted not because they were poorly written, but because they were not necessary. I have two great songs sitting on my hard drive that I had to cut from DOG ISLAND because they just didn't fit. During this phase you have to be your own worst critic. If you aren't, there are thousands sitting on the sidelines waiting to chop your work to bits.
Then comes the final phase, which I call "Taking it up a notch". Where can there be more conflict, drama, turmoil, problems? In the genre I write, there can never, well almost never, be enough problems to work through. Don't make it too easy for your MC to achieve his goal.
Now your manuscript is ready for submission, but that is a topic for a whole other post.