Are you an outliner or an organic writer?
Outliners have a plan before writing the first draft (i.e. chapter breakdowns, character profiles), whereas organic writers follow their inspiration, see where pen and paper take them.
I tend to be an outliner, but as of late I've been embracing the organic way of doing things. When I'm writing organically, without a plan of what must happen in a scene, I tend to bond with my characters more, really get inside their head and their heart and let them do the talking instead of imposing my ideas on them. Also, I find it much more fun to let the ideas just come naturally.
However, there are a lot of positive things about outlining too (i.e. having a clear goal about where you want your story to go). It can also save time on the rewriting if you have a general idea of what your story is going to be about.
That being said, I tried Karen Weisner's, First Draft in 30 Days. It was a really detail-orientated and helpful guide about outlining. I must admit, it didn't take me 30 days to complete, more like 5 months by the time I factored in a job, young kids, running a household, etc. But I completed it.
I thought I would just have to write the first draft of my actual novel (as implied in the book) because I had done all of the worksheets, and outlines, and research, etc, etc. It didn't quite turn out that way. I still have a lot of editing to do (though outlining has helped me not to have to re-write the entire plot of the book). Now I wonder if it was necessary to do that much detailed outlining before writing my novel?
It seems that just writing organically and letting the character speak for herself gave me the opportunity to get to know her naturally, and now in the second draft the character seems more convincing to me.
To outline or not to outline? I'm middle of the road when it comes to this one. I think too much outlining can create a lot of unnecessary work, but no outlining can create a lot of unnecessary work as well.