So.. today is all about the funnest part of writing, the work you do before you write.
You know, the thinking, and daydreaming, and wondering, and talking to yourself, and researching, and dreaming, and obsessing and....
OK, it's really not that bad. Some people skip outlining altogether and just write on the fly, 'discovery writing' they call it. To me that's makes about as much sense as 'discovery shopping', where you go grocery shopping by just driving around blind and hoping you eventually bump into a store along your path. That seems like it would take a long, long time. Sure you probably see some areas that you wouldn't see otherwise.. but at what expense?
I know that Stephen King in his uber-phenomenal book, "On Writing" says that's how he does it.. but he must have like a built in GPS for his stories or something because I've tried doing that and I always seem to end up writing about lack of sleep or stinky diapers or college football, or something like that.
I think my problem is my real life simply has too much gravitational pull for me to get too far away from it unless I am moving intentionally away.. thus I need my road map, my outline.
I've actually been working on an outline today. I've been swatting 2 different stories around in my head for a couple of years.. and when I start working on one I seem to bleed over into the other. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it simply is because they're too close to each other in terms of where I'm planning on going with them..so I've spent some long hours meshing the 2 stories together and come out with what I think is a pretty darn good central idea for a series.
I've spent today doing a general outline of the overall story arc, and am starting to get specific on the first book in the story. I already know most of the story, so outlining it has been pretty quick.
Now.. I've just got to do some skeleton outlines of the other stories in the sequence and I'll be good to go.
This is why outlining works for me.. I don't need a huge outline that's 10 pages long.. most of the major scenes have already played themselves out in my head anyway.. but having a compass that points me to where I want to go is a useful tool, at least at this point in my writing career.