I recently read an article about novelists and outlines. Some writers can't imagine trying to piece together a story without a tight, involved outline, and others wing it all the way. I fall somewhere in between precise and winging it. I think.
I begin with an idea for a story and a very rough idea of characters and setting, then put that "on paper". That's where I start, but once I begin the actual writing, I back-fill the outline. I let the story and characters develop as I go, then make notes on the outline rather than the other way around. It works for me.
It's best not to be too rigid about the writing process, allowing imagination to sculpt. But with that said, I also believe each writer must do what feels most comfortable to them and what works. What I've learned most recently is that there are no rules to how we create our stories, only suggestions. Don't box yourself in with rules, even if you created them. Be open to change your process as you go, as you learn and grow.
The creative mind needs wiggle-room and a safe place to experiment. This has not been an easy lesson for me (I'm a rule-follower!), but I'm getting it now and it feels fantastic. With my second novel, I'm feeling the exhilarating freedom of . . . well . . . freedom. And I love it! Rules have their place, but that place is not in the creative process.
So follow your own creative path and enjoy the process guilt free!
Here is a link to an article on advantages and disadvantages of writing:
Link on how to write an outline: