I started writing as a hobby when I was a hospital social worker a looong time ago (think typewriter and carbon paper. ugh). I thought that working on a novel, the idea for which I'd had in my mind from the time I was twelve years old, would be a fun pastime.
After about six months, I decided to take an adult class on novel writing so that I could do a better job with my "hobby." The class was huge--probably thirty or forty people, all working on the story of their hearts. At the first meeting, the instructor said "I'm going to assume that all of you are here because you want your books to be published." Wow. It changed the way I felt about my little hobby. Then he gave us our first homework assignment, and it took nearly all of us aback: write the end of the book. It didn't have to be neat and clean, but we needed to know how the story would end. I'd never thought about the ending of my novel before, and once I did, I understood why he'd given us the assignment. Suddenly, I had a focus for my story and a goal to aim toward.
Fast forward about a zillion years. I was working on the outline for my work-in-progress this morning, struggling a bit with the "flabby middle," when I suddenly realized I didn't know my ending. I spent a half day thinking about it, and voila! Everything else fell into place. If you're working on a novel, I highly recommend starting at the end. You'll be amazed at how it focuses the rest of the story.
However, I do have a teeny tiny problem. After zipping through the draft, I came up with an entirely different way of reaching the same ending. Entirely different. Now what? One approach to the story would be more "suspensefully emotional". The other more "emotionally emotional". So I think I'm going to write it up both ways and see which moves me more. Nothing like doubling my workload!