I know I'm stretching the alphabet here...
For THE SWEET SPOT, I didn't outline. I had a short story that evolved into a longer story and then a novel. The short story is (for the most part) what is now chapters four and five in the novel. It took a long time to fill in the first three chapters and then finish the book. I didn't totally pants the thing--I did some character spreadsheets, and I spent some time writing loglines and synopses (snowflake method, anyone?) But mostly I just wrote.
I outline for nonfiction--and I have a hard time calling the outlining part of the work "writing." But I'm trying to get better at that. Because it's equally as important as the actual writing. For my work-for-hire I'm required to submit an outline before the first draft. And it is supremely important to get that first "go ahead" from the editor. Or "try this here." Or "I'm sure you're going to do this, but don't forget..."
For my next fiction WIP, I'm thinking I need to work more quickly. Five years per novel just isn't going to cut it if I want an actual writing career. Based on the recommendation of Amy Sue Nathan, I picked up FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS by Karen S. Wiesner. It promises to help you craft an indepth outline that can double as your first draft. In. 30. Days.
Having read the first few chapters, at the very least, this book should help with brainstorming basic plot points and character analysis. I'm horrible at organization, so I think it will help me with that as well. As long as I stick with it.
Sticking with it. And really the important part is Butt In Chair, Hands on Keyboard, right? As long as I'm physically writing, whether it's an outline or a stinky first draft, progress is being made. So sticking with the outline, or changing gears midstream, or pantsing the daylights out of a scene or chapter. It doesn't really matter what method or style you use. As long as it works for you.
Tips for writing the basic outline (and the page I borrowed the graphic from). Very basic outline.
So, show of hands, do you outline?