Yesterday ... I stood at my easel with a purple pen, and scribbled a sorta-kinda outline for my new manuscript. I was so proud of myself for having tried to prepare before writing (a huge feat for a pantser like me!). I then took a red pen and added the next layer to each point. Twenty minutes later I stood before my computer on my treadmill desk, music on, easel before me, and...I wrote 9200 words. None of which followed the sorta-kinda outline. What this taught me is that I am not you. You are not me. We all march to a different beat, and we need to do what works for us as individuals. So, please do not judge my inability to outline. My creativity flows wild and free, and I shall not judge your ability to prepare (which I am in awe of on a daily basis) and follow your own creative path.
Though I am more of a "plotter" than I am a "pantser," I understand that others work differently and my primary concern is pragmatic: Did doing what you did make successful completion of your writing task easier, or harder?
Clearly, if cannot produce an outline, you ought not produce an outline before you write your novel. If you wait, you'll never write! You should write instead. I just hope you don't get blocked 1/3rd of the way through your project.
And that's cool.
No, that's better than cool, that's awesome. She dashed off 9200 words of prose!
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe in World War II, said this:
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.scaffolding.
An outline is just your thoughts written down. It's a deliverable of thinking. When you are planning a work you are thinking about it. And when you are planning a work, you don't know some vitally important facts. An accurate plan can only be made after the work is done and you've learned all you need to know. And that's why it's worthless, because everyone makes plans at the point of maximum ignorance.
As you get into the work you learn, and that learning needs to be integrated with your up-front thinking about the work. Yes, you could stop writing and update your outline, but you ought not turn off the writing part of your brain for busy work. Remember, the plan is useless. Don't stop for it. And planning is indispensable. Don't skip it.