Question: I can't outline for the life of me. I am told that Outlining is critical to writing a good novel. But I am an organic writer, I come up with ideas as I am typing the story, solving problems in the plot and creating characters only when I need to. I have a premise for a science fiction novel series that I want to write and publish with a passion. But as far as pre-planning goes, all I have are vague ideas of characters, villains, and events that I want to see happen. Will writing organically set me up for a big fall? Am I dooming myself at the beginning by just winging it as I write? Or can I make a successful book series based on the loose premise and ideas I have?Answer:
Don't worry. It may be simply that you are a pantser by nature (one who writes by the seat of his pants without an outline). Many good writers are pantsers.
If so, I suggest you simply go ahead and write a first draft.
However, once that first draft is complete, go back and look at your story. Write your outline then, based on what you have written, and see if the story hangs together. Get feedback from people you trust. See if there are places where you can strengthen the dramatic structure, if there is material that is superfluous. Look for plot holes.
The work of shaping the story is the same. It's just that plotters do most of it before the first draft, while pantsers do most of it after.
(Of course, if you get stuck halfway through the first draft, you can always do some outlining then to get back on track.)