The way I write essays is very similar to most, including Lamott. Like most, I start my writing out with an outline, unless I am writing a research paper, in which I find my research first. The outline is essentially a skeleton for your paper. Next you must add the “meat” onto the skeleton. The meat is the actual writing and paragraphs. You set up the outline to see where everything goes and then you fill in. Once I have filled in the gaps, I am left with a rough draft. Like Lamott said, the rough draft is going to be the worst version of your paper, but this also means you only have room to improve. Although it is easy it explain, actually writing a paper is much more difficult. I have trouble when I narrow my focus too much on a topic to the point where there is not enough to write about. Like Lamott said, in order to write an essay you must let the mind wander. By letting the mind wander, she does not mean to stray away from the topic, but rather to explore the topics in depth and and find things that relate to your topic. You must use all of your resources available.
My process does change when I am pressed for time, I will admit that. I usually will forego my draft and dive right into the writing and just let the words flow onto the paper. From there I will revise the draft however many times I see fit or have time for. After revising the draft as many times as necessary, it is time to turn it in. For some this can be stressful, waiting to see how one did, but for me this is a huge relief and I stop pretty much stop thinking about it until it is handed back.