I would love to be able to write on a schedule. Real life, though, does not allow that. I have two small kids and their needs come before my writing schedule. I have to take little moments to write when I can. A perfect example of that is this morning. We ran out of coffee (no!!) so after taking my 8 y.o. to school, my 4 y.o. and I headed over to Starbucks. He got a hot chocolate and I got a White Chocolate Mocha (oh yes!). I had a few pieces of lined paper in my car and I had stuck them in my purse. We sat down and he doodled on a piece of paper while I wrote down some outline notes for my next story. I've had these ideas floated around in my head for a while and I didn't want to lose them. I was able to write for about fifteen minutes before the hot chocolate ran out. ;) Fifteen minutes might now seem like a lot but it helped my brain feel less compressed. And that is a very good thing.
Outlining is very important to me. I need to see the path that I'm going to take to get to the end of the story. It might be a slightly wavy path or a very crooked path but there is an end in sight! I can't just start with a "great idea" and hope to get to the "happily ever after." Those kinda stories fizzle out around page fifty. Granted, my finished project might not resemble my initial outline but that's okay! A few detours aren't bad. Sometimes characters do something you didn't plan for (they can be annoying that way). Sometimes a situation needs to be lightened up or (in my usual case) darkened. A "road map" is my form of pre-writing.
So, do you have a "formula" or a "pre-writing" technique that you use? Let me know! :)