Before you start pounding the keyboard to whip up your next writing project, one thing you might consider is using a mind map. In many ways, mind maps on your computer are like an outline mixed with the rudiments of a first draft—but visual and easier to change via drag and drop.
I enjoy using them for smaller projects, but I’d rather not buy a program for that one purpose. That’s where FreeMind comes in. FreeMind is, as you can imagine, free mind-mapping software for most major computer platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux). The Java program handles the basics of mind mapping fairly well, but Java itself can be slow.
It’s tough to beat free, though.