I'm 30,000+ words into a novel right now, and it's taken a weird turn, which is fine. This is an old project. I started it when I was a sophomore in college, I think. Back then, the story was about a guy who accidentally got into an altercation which led him to steal a car. The car had drugs and things in it. So he ends up on the run from the owners of the drugs. It was kind of a drug heist story. This was one of the first times I really attempted fight scenes, sex scenes, and generally getting out of my comfort zone. I don't recall how far I got with it, but it faltered and I put it aside.
But I kept thinking about it. I came up with a second act, which I didn't write (and still haven't) in which the main character runs away and ends up at a commune with this cult who were essentially anti-quiverfull types. At one point, I used them in a different novel, and they morphed into Animal Liberation Front types. I reworked the opening to make it more readible and inserted a more focused philosophical theme into the book. But, again, I stalled and didn't finish it.
More recently, I came up with a new opening and ditched all the work I'd done, previously. I kept the running outline I'd developed for the earlier versions, but as I actually wrote the book, I strayed pretty far from the outline. No drugs, really. Some sex. A little fighting. The book started as an incredibly dark story, but now, it's more of a supernatural odd couple scenario. And it's pretty funny. I've just now gotten to the commune section, and it looks like I'm going to keep it, but who knows what it'll end up being like.
Not every book I write is like this. Sometimes, I make an outline and essentially expand it into a novel, and that's that. With this one, I had an outline bu abandoned it. I've been doing that more lately. But right now, I really have no idea where this book is going, which is unusual for me. At this point, I would usually have a fairly good idea of just about every major scene left in the book. Right now, I've got an idea or two. I don't even know how long the thing will be, which is very strange. I can usually guage that to within a few thousand words.
After I finish this one, which I hope will be fairly soon, I'm going to pick up another one that faltered -- this time because I abandoned the outline. That one's almost done, I think. But then again, I don't actually know. I won't say that it's scary to be off the rails like this, but it is interesting. This book grows at its own pace. It takes its time. I don't know if I like it. But it doesn't really matter if I do or don't.