I always hope that the process of writing or revising a novel will be easier the next time I do it. Now that I've finished revising my 2nd MG novel (at least until an agent or editor requests more revisions), I've been thinking about what I've learned:
1. Starting out with a good plan or outline helps me stay focused. Even though I may revise the plan during my revision process, it helps to look back and see what I was thinking.
2. I don't fully know my characters or story until I finish the first draft. A lot of revision is about getting to know them better and adding more depth. [For more on this see my recent blog post here.]
3. When I'm writing, I can do a little bit every day to keep the momentum going. For revisions, it helps to have a large block of time when I can read and think about the whole story (like a few days).
4. Details are important, but only after the structure is in place. Looking at scenes with my main character's goal in mind helped me realize some of them were in the wrong place. I moved scenes, deleted some, and melded some together to strengthen the story.
5. There's always room for improvement, but at some point you need to move on. If my novel is in good shape, I can write a one-sentence pitch and summary paragraph that does a good job of capturing the story.
One of the things I enjoy about writing is there's always more to learn. I'd like to think that next time, I'll be more efficient and speed up the process.