I would never presume to tell an author the right or wrong way to craft their work; I believe that whatever method works for you is the right one. I tend to write in a linear fashion, from point A to point B without reviewing what I’ve written previously. Indeed, sometimes I only find out what I left on the page when I go back and perform the first edit upon completing a novel. There have been exceptions to this rule; sometimes I will write about six chapters and do a read-through just to refresh myself on what I’ve written, because the early chapters in any story provide the building blocks for your characters; their first meeting, or the inciting incident that brings them together, or any other source of conflict you can imagine.
I found myself in an unfamiliar place on my latest project. I completed 23,000 words in a quick amount of time, and then found myself stuck. I closed the document, put the book aside, and began to write a novella that appeared unexpectedly in my head. I completed the novella, edited and published it, and brainstormed how I was going to get back into the swing of things. I knocked around a few ideas and considered some possibilities. Honestly, I am still considering some of them as I write the book! But I decided the best solution for this novel was to go back to the very beginning, reread the entire thing, do some revisions as I went, and then see where I found myself.
I deliberated and finally decided to introduce a new character in order to give the story some additional balance. I changed a few things and added other new elements, which may or may not improve the overall story. Time will tell. The good news is that via this experience I was able to continue my writing in earnest, surpassing 45,000 words. I’m not sure that I will ever work up to full-novel length again. I did two novels in the 100,000 word range, but I tend to be the most comfortable between 70 and 75,000 words. Those also seem to be the easiest to edit.