I recently changed majors, from one where there were no essays required from me, to one where there are lots of essays required from me. As such, I've become very aware of the process I go through to write an essay.
Note: This is just a general format, obviously each essay is different.
Step 1: Read the prompt.
Step 2: Look at the number of pages expected from me.
Step 3: Panic.
Step 4: Read the prompt again, hoping desperately that I think of something to say on the topic.
Step 5: Go off and do other things, occasionally thinking about the essay and worrying.
Step 6: Out of nowhere, think of an argument or fact that can be used for the essay.
Step 6 1/2: Go back through my readings/do research to find facts I can use.
Step 7: Write down the fact(s) in my outline.
Repeat steps 6-7 until I have an outline that is at least half as long as my paper needs to be, because the outline is single spaced, doesn't use full sentences, and doesn't include anything regarding the introduction or conclusion.
Step 8: Go over my outline, rearranging things until I feel like there's at least some transition between main points.
Step 9: Try to start writing an introduction.
Step 10: Get annoyed because every attempt to start the paper is garbage.
Step 11: Skip straight to writing the first body paragraph because I have an outline for it so I at least have some idea of what I want to write.
Step 12: Get inspiration for my introduction in the middle of writing a body paragraph.
Step 13: Go back and write my introduction.
Step 14: Finish my body paragraphs.
Step 14 1/2: Every so often write a sentence that I just hate so much that I delete it, then rewrite it only to delete it again until I just give up and decide to let future me deal with the problem of the terrible sentence in editing.
Step 15: Try to write a conclusion.
Step 16: Get frustrated because conclusions are hard.
Step 17: Just write something as a conclusion, mostly by reiterating my main points.
Step 18: Wait 8-24 hours before rereading the essay.
Step 19: Reread the essay, expecting it to be terrible.
Step 20: Become pleasantly surprised that it isn't a steaming pile of turd after all.
Step 21: Fix the terrible sentences that annoyed me earlier, because for some reason I can now figure out how to phrase them so that they aren't terrible.
Step 22: Reread the essay, fixing spelling and grammar mistakes as I go.
Step 23: Turn the essay in.
Step 24: Panic that it's actually a horrible essay and that I should have spent more time fixing it. At no point reread the essay to reassure myself that it isn't bad.
Step 25: Listen to the person who graded the essay explain in general terms what we as a group did wrong and should improve on for the future.
Step 26: Assume that every single one of these errors applies to me, even if the part of my brain that remembers the essay knows that they can't all apply.
Step 27: Get the graded essay back.
Step 28: Congratulate myself on having tricked the TA/professor/grader into thinking I'm a good writer.
Step 29: Briefly consider that maybe, just maybe, I have unrealistically high standards for myself as a writer.
Step 30: Disregard that thought. It's clearly stupid.