Today, someone asked me about my writing style and my use of outlines. I thought I would post something about it here for when I get stuck and convince myself that I don't know the first thing about writing. When that happens, I can come here and remind myself of what used to work for me.
Basically, my wip's start with barely a glimpse of an idea. I'll think about it and watch it grow. See who shows up, what their connections to one another are, and what their problem is. Many times, the story will change so much it barely resembles my initial idea. That's one thing I've learned, whether you use an outline or not, allow your story the latitude needed to change. Don't make it adhere to one idea. If you will follow where it leads, you will have a much more enriched story.
Speaking of outlines, I never use one, but at a certain point, I do try to order my chapters by using a timeline date in the title of the file to remind myself of what's happening and when. Since I write in chunks, sometimes I'll insert a file between two established chapters and label it with the previous chapter number and an 'a' after it. It can get confusing. That's why I need to constantly check to see if everything is in order and if there are any holes.
I love the freedom that comes from not using an outline because I'm constantly amazed at the things that pop up out of nowhere. Also, if I need to fill in a hole, or add more subplot, I can say, hmm, I'll get to know that character over there a little more, figure out what kind of mischief they can create, and tuck it in where needed.
I never said my process was pretty, but it seems to work.