While working on writing Bloodweavers I've been crystallizing some old ideas about the stages of the creative process I go through when I'm writing.
Stage 1: Ideas are coming so quickly that it's not only effortless, but it would be an effort not to be writing them down. The ideas are pulling on me, rather than me pulling on them. Generally the trick is getting each idea down before the next one is upon me, so I tend to be flipping from place to place writing bits as they come to me without being able to spend any time on organization, formatting, or anything but capture. This stage doesn't last that long, but a lot gets done.
Stage 2: Ideas are no longer dragging me to the act of writing them. I can go do something else if I have to. But when I come back, if I look at a topic, ideas start to come with no effort. It's like a "static equilibrium" stage; ideas don't move themselves, but it takes no work to move them.
Stage 3: When I set down to work on a subject, I do have to do a little bit of thinking to tease the ideas out, so it takes a little effort. However, the effort is still enjoyable, and the creative process it still something I'm drawn to doing. Just not so much that something else might not also draw me more. Incidentally, this is where I am now; and usually this is where most of the work gets done.
Stage 4: Now it's just plain work. I have to pull on the ideas to get them to come. This stage sometimes feels like a "grind" as I work my way methodically through everything that needs to be done. The act itself is not particularly enjoyable. (Though it's still worth doing because the results are enjoyable.)