Now I'm at the stage to finally start writing the novel that goes along with my Shiny New Idea. At this point I've thought about my story and my Main Characters and I either have an outline or I don't.
Now all I have to do is take the Idea, start writing at the beginning, slog through the middle, and finally reach the end. It sounds simple enough, right? The truth is the rough draft is probably the easiest and the most difficult draft to write.
The easy part is this: it's all unexplored territory. Yes, even if you have a really detailed outline there are plenty of surprises still waiting for you to uncover them. And, at least for the first 20k or so, there's probably a lot of enthusiasm for the story. This is your new baby, you want to see it to completion.
The hard part is in keeping the momentum going 'til you get to THE END. There is no magic formula, just a lot of hard work.
Here's how I approach the task.
1) I set daily/weekly goals (usually about two to three hours worth of writing per day) and do my best to meet them. Every. Day. Things will come up to prevent you from making every session. Not feeling in the mood to write is not a good excuse. (I know it's hard to write when you don't feel like it, but the more you do it the less you find you don't feel like writing.)
2) I use a simple word processing program to write in. Usually Q10 (which has some drawbacks) or OpenOffice. There are plenty of programs that will help track characters and give you all sorts of options about how to file notes and link documents together, etc. If they help you write more effectively that's great. I find they tend to distract me from the actual process of writing.
3) I write in sequence from beginning to end. Or I don't. It depends on the story, how developed my idea is, whether the wind is blowing from the east... You get the picture.
4) I write every day whether I feel inspired or not.
5) I write every day whether I feel inspired or not.
6) I write every day whether I feel inspired or not.
I think you get the picture.
Some authors edit as they go. I find that is not helpful during the first draft process. I do tend to read through the last couple of pages I wrote before I start each session. This helps me keep track of where I am in the story, how relationships are developing, and so forth.
I do not worry about whether I'm putting chapter breaks in the optimum location (although I do put in chapter breaks just because I feel like it). I do not worry too much about pacing. I do not worry about if my descriptions are too light/too heavy. I do not worry about whether or not my dialogue is snappy enough.
The rough draft is the one version that doesn't have to be better than a previous version. That doesn't mean you should deliberately make it terrible. But don't sweat the small stuff.
Remember: Some words is better than no words.