I'm a big fan of outlines. I wrote this post about tightening outlines about my approach to making outlines better that I've been using most recently. This post, in turn is more about execution.
The issue, that I think causes a lot of people to be less into outlines, is the fact that outlines sort of dreary to write from. Which is to say, that the cool thing about writing (for me at least) is the feeling I get when I immerse myself in a world and characters' and I'm able to record the feeling of that experience. When it works that's really satisfying, and while I don't think it's required for "being a writer," it is certainly nice when it happens.
I suspect I'm not alone in finding this aspect of writing to be pleasurable and the thing about it is, of course, that it's hard to both "slipstream" into the writing world and also follow your outline. The end result is that while I'm pretty rigorous about creating my outlines I'm not particularly rigorous about following my outlines.
This isn't, as far as I'm concerned, a bad thing. For a couple of reasons.
1. The act of creating an outline is useful onto itself. It walks you through the story once so you know what's going on, and you can figure out or avoid writing yourself into corners. Also the more familiar you are with the whole story when you start writing at the beginning, the less likely you are to have a story that takes a few chapters to "get off the ground."
2. If you review your outline sporadically while you're writing, you'll probably be able to recall the important memories of "what you were thinking when you wrote that part of the outline, and then and be able to get to that part of the story, and write from there. You needed follow what you said in the outline very closely--lots of great ideas come up when you write, but having a road map makes it harder to get lost.
Ok, that's what I keep telling myself. The truth is that I've been toiling in chapters 4 and 5 of this novel for a few weeks now, and my outline isn't doing me a lot of good. And at least on number two above, I've not been very good at keeping up with my outline.
I'm not even sure how to articulate my issue with the story at this point. Part of the issue, is that I juggled some scenes around in chapter three that required pushing a few other things back, and having been thrown off the rails, it's hard to figure out the pacing of what I'm trying to do right now. I think that gets it pretty closely.
So I'm going to spend some time this week, taking a bit of a breather from working on the actual text, and working on doing a little more outlining, and work on other projects, so I feel a little bit less like I'm grasping around in the dark.
Because I'm nothing if not reasonable.
Onward and Upward!