I've tried different methods of writing my novels. One I just sat down and wrote with no preplanning. Not even the characters. I finished it but what a mess of revisions I had to tackle. It's still not marketable. A couple of novels were planned with very few words in columns under chapter numbers, with characters mapped out, and they went well. The last one I outlined with a lot more detail and found it easier than the others to actually write.
I decided to approach this young adult project a lot differently and do a detailed outline of the complete novel before actually writing the first chapter. It's tedious, to say the least, but it's working better than I imagined. I type almost as fast as I think so this outline could be finished and ready in a very short time. Since this is a new area for me, I didn't want to rush things. There will be plenty of time to write later. I decided to use a pencil and a legal pad. Doing it the "old fashioned" way is allowing me to dwell in and enjoy the little world I've created. I never believed outlining could do that. (It certainly never did that for me in high school or college research papers!)
I've read an opinion by one writer that doing a detailed outline takes the fun out of writing the actual novel, that there are no surprises around the corner. He may be right. Another writer disagrees and says it doesn't affect that aspect in any way. What it does do, is give you a clear road map to where you want to wind up so you don't waste efforts on going off in the wrong direction. I think it just depends on what works for each writer. I'm only up to chapter eight in the outline...it will be a while before I know how it will affect my work.
What are some of your methods? Are you trying different things with different projects to find what works for you?