I remember feeling greatly relieved when I learned that famed author Stephen King believes that creativity and flow are hurt by an outline because I hardly ever make an outline before I start a story. I get a general idea in my head and pretty much know where I want it to go, however, the characters often take on lives of their own and dictate to me what we'll be doing. I find it rather exciting that way because it's often as if I'm reading the story as well. The process reminds me of a flower that starts as a bud and opens, little by little, to reveal a beautiful, full-blown blossom.
It can, however, lead to potential rewrites or deletions of already written parts. I'm okay with that. Some writers are not. They don't want to do a bunch of work that will get tossed to the side. I've heard that author Janet Evanovich believes the outlining stage should be even longer than the actual writing. Yikes! That's not for me. However, I like what full-time freelance writer Steve Thompson has said. In his post Do You Need an Outline Before You Write Your Book , he reminds us that "What most aspiring authors don't realize is that an outline is a tool, and not a prerequisite." I got the feeling from the article that Steve is an outline user, however, he encourages writers to try it but do what feels the most comfortable. Hats off to you Steve for telling writers to explore and find what works best for them! His article also reiterated what I'd already learned about Stephen King and Janet Evanovich.
When my husband worked in the music industry in Nashville, he had the opportunity to sit in on a few songwriting sessions (with some known writers, actually, but who wants to drop names :) they were the same way. Many of the writers wanted to "know exactly where the song was going" while others just wanted to start singing and see where it took them.
Bottom line...you have to do what works for you and, either way, it's okay. There's no right and wrong, just a need to develop great characters in a great story. (sorry guys! I'm new to blogging and it keeps deleting the spaces between my paragraphs on this one. I tried to differentiate them with bold and italics).