Thanks to a previous comment I began to think about outlining. When I've used it, has it been an effective tool? The answer, of course, is yes. But it still prompts the question....does it work for everyone? Is it a necessary stage of the writing process? Well....there are differing camps of thought on the subject. I myself use an outline when writing my novels. And it's interesting that in each of the three cases, so far, the process has been the same: stage one - starting out with a general idea of where the story should end; stage two - after writing the first couple of chapters and getting to know my characters, sketch out a basic outline (not too detailed); and stage three - when I get far enough into the story, make the outline more detailed, filling in the blanks so to speak..... and at that point, I'm off and running at breakneck speed. It's exhilarating, by the way. Of course, if a character somewhere along the way has the urge to "break off in another direction" rather than going by way of my plot outline....that's okay, too.
So, when I happened to be directed to a certain author's site and found his description of outlining to be similar, well, I felt....validated, I guess. Maybe that's odd, but it is how I felt. In any case, check out the blog postings he's written (there are several on the topic) and see what you think about outlining.
By the way, I recall watching a television program where a guest author (can't remember the name) confessed he has no clue as to how his book will end as he's writing. He claims that his writing is fresh and spontaneous that way. It seems to work for him, so... if I may quote a popular agent and blogger (Nathan Bransford)..."if it works, it works...."
Check out the site: http://jeffabbott.com/blog/writing/