"Writing is easy; all you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." -- Red Smith, sportswriter.
We all know writing is hard. There's a minimum of seven* things you have to consider when writing a novel, short story, etc -- Plot, Character, Setting, Consistency, Timeline, Accuracy, and Pacing. If one is even the slightest bit off the mark, then the entire story goes off-kilter and you lose time trying to figure it out. If you don't know your character inside and out, for example, you might have them act a way they normally wouldn't simply because they have to in order to move the plot forward. If your timeline's off, then you might state something happened Tuesday in one section when it needed to actually happen on Thursday. If you're inconsistent, then you have Character A say something on page 26 which they completely contradict on page 246.
You get the idea.
So what's a writer to do? You can write and rewrite and go over each new draft with a fine tooth comb, or you can plan things out ahead of time. Planning's not for everyone, not by a long shot, and woe be to anyone who tries to change your style to fit theirs. However, it works for me, and I'll tell you why: I lose my place much less often.
Case in point: Work's in one of its busy seasons now, and had been steadily getting more intensive prior to that. Because of this, I've not had as much time to work on CALLARION AT NIGHT during the workday like I did last year. Which has necessitated that I do a lot of work on nights off from the part-time job and waking up early on weekends to get writing in. I took it upon myself then to compose a Scene Development document for each chapter of the story. It's not done yet, but my goal is to have these different areas figured out for each scene in each chapter of the novel. This serves a twofold purpose: one, I get a deeper picture of the scene, and two, because I have the scene scripted out I know what to write simply by looking at it.
This Scene Development document is not an outline. That's important to note, because I know some of you might be thinking that already. No, what it tells me is the major motions of the scenes -- the turning points and the character goals and whatnot -- those background moves that influence the on-screen action. By knowing those, I know the scene. And when I know the scene, I can write it much smoother and be free from the concerns of "what comes next?"
That's the big benefit of planning, I think. You lose that pause in momentum from wondering what comes next because you already know what comes next. You planned it out; looked at it from all sorts of angles, and made 100 percent certain that your characters are being logical and acting in the way they would act. The end result of this, I think, is a tighter story with leagues more impact simply because you the writer have a better handle on the action. That's what I think at least.
What say you, fellow wordsmiths?
* EDIT: Because Adam pointed out that I miscounted.