I started hitting best-seller lists as soon as I stopped using outlines. With Strangers, I started with nothing more than a couple of characters I thought I'd like and with a premise. Nearly every new writer I know uses detailed outlines, and so did I for a long time. But when I stopped relying on them, my work became less stiff, more organic, less predictable. BUT, nearly every beginning writer I've known and some excellent veterans as well, such as Jeffery Deaver, create chapter-by-chapter outlines of considerable length before starting to write the novel. The point of this tip is simply that if you feel constrained by an outline, it isn't the only way to work.