The Guardian published a wonderful interview with George Saunders in which he discusses (among other things) his writing process. Here’s a tantalizing sample of the article:
My method is: I imagine a meter mounted in my forehead, with “P” on this side (“Positive”) and “N” on this side (“Negative”). I try to read what I’ve written uninflectedly, the way a first-time reader might (“without hope and without despair”). Where’s the needle? Accept the result without whining. Then edit, so as to move the needle into the “P” zone. Enact a repetitive, obsessive, iterative application of preference: watch the needle, adjust the prose, watch the needle, adjust the prose (rinse, lather, repeat), through (sometimes) hundreds of drafts. Like a cruise ship slowly turning, the story will start to alter course via those thousands of incremental adjustments. The artist, in this model, is like the optometrist, always asking: Is it better like this? Or like this?
Well worth the read – if you have the time, check it out!