I really suck at chord harmony, so whenever I compose, I tend to use counterpoint a lot.
Counterpoint is somewhat easy when you just have two voices. Because I just compose for fun, I generally do something like cheat by having just two voices for a large amount of instruments, and then extremely basic harmony.
My problem is that, I tend to compose counterpoint incrementally. I first write one voice, disregarding the fact that I am going to add a second voice. Then I write my second voice, being careful to avoid dissonance, octaves, perfect fifths, and other bad sounds.
It feels like solving a system of equations really. When I go to write my third voice, the only "feasible solutions", i.e., the only solutions what don't result in dissonance, are very unconnected and can't form a melody. Even if I manage to snug in this third voice, it would be a terrible contrived melody with occasional huge jumps to "get out of the way" of the other voices. Things like incorporating a theme are totally impossible.
Adding a fourth voice is 100% impossible for me; no matter where I put my notes, it's going to clash with some other voice.
How to fix this problem? I am far from an experienced composer, but is my approach on counterpoint completely off the mark? Should I be writing the voices all at once? My measly training in composing was all simple accompaniment based on chords, which I honestly don't intuitively get. I can on the other hand easily sit down at a piano and improvise some two-voice counterpoint.