When I first started writing stories, it was purely for enjoyment and relaxation. I was about 10 or 11 at the time and writing and reading were my escape from the world. Writing especially. Why? Because during that time in my life, a lot of changes were taking place, not all good ones. In fact most were pretty unpleasant. Writing was the one thing I could control. I could make two people fall in love, I could send one flying off a cliff! I could even invent my own species!
My parents were divorcing, and I had to adjust to gradually never seeing my father and other not so fun issues that come with a messy divorce; including losing the house I'd grown up in, moving to a shady part of town in a horrible roach infested apartment, as well as slowly losing any semblance of a relationship with my sister as she turned into violently rebelious teenager. Sadly she still hasn't changed nearly 17 years later.
Oh, and I was going into a middle school where I knew nobody. Yep. A lot going on for a kid that age. I in no way regret going through those things though, because it has shaped me into the individual I am today, and it taught me to enjoy writing as an enjoyable escape from reality, instead of other horrible things I could do to escape.
But my writing naturally has evolved since then. And one of the biggest things I have found now is I cannot write as freely. Not in a bad way mind you, but now that my stories have become more complex it is harder to just start writing. I can't just let myself go where the wind takes me. Sometimes, yes, you still pleasantly surprise yourself by ending up somewhere you never intended, but generally I need a map. Otherwise my story would turn out like the above picture. Jumbled and confusing. Disconnected.
In fact, one thing that stopped me writing previously had a lot to do with my outline for Mistaken. There was a few things I was unclear about...parts I was unsure of pacing or felt that not enough was going on. After taking a hiatus from it and coming back with a fresh mind I am finding it much easier to map out the story and making very good head way.
Reworking the outline of the story apparently was exactly what I needed, and as a result I am actually finding a couple smaller characters are playing bigger parts than I had originally planned. But most importantly it helped me get back to the actual writing.
A good outline has other very important benefits as I am sure you all know, BUT maybe if you are currently suffering from writer's block, giving your outline the once over may uncover issues with the plot that are stopping you from writing. In my case, this wasn't the only thing that stopped me from writing, as some health issues as well as quite a bit of traveling got in the way, but when I was ready to come back to writing, revamping the outline has certainly helped!