Oh the plot. If there isn't one bigger thing to knock a writer off their feet, it is that stupid plot. You sit, you ponder and you think "Gosh I have a great idea!", but yet there is no real plot. Writers will spend weeks, months or even over a year plotting, outlining, characterization planning -- the list is honestly endless. I have seen writers with pages upon pages of notes (honestly, they could make a novel from that). Where do they get though? They put so much thought into it that now they have every step of their novel put together. That seems great right? Just fill in the blanks and you are done!
It's not that simple. A plot is important, yes, but planning each and every detail and outlining to the T almost suffocates your plot. You are stuck to follow this rigid guideline, this Dystopian-ruled way of life for your novel. You cannot move away, you cannot let creativity reign, you are destined to only write what you have plotted and outlined.
I am a firm believer that if you are going to write a novel that is creative, witty and well...readable, you need to skip the over-planning. You are digging yourself a hole essentially. Writing a novel should come with ease. As you write and go on into your novel the plot will thicken and sometimes even present itself naturally (happens for me). Creativity, after all, is what drove you to write the darn thing to begin with.
Not everyone can fly by the seat of their pants and write. I understand this. These type of people need structure, need that planning and that is okay -- AS LONG AS THEY FINISH IT. I have author friends who have dozens of book ideas they spent over a year planning out to perfection, but they never wrote it. They blame it on a "plot hiccup" or "plot error", but in reality, the problem is is that the idea is suffocated. The idea no longer inspires the author because he or she just spent a year of their life planning it down to the grain.
The current novel I am working on, I wrote all 300+ pages in five days. Yes, five days. Did I plan? Plot? Outline? Create character bios?
I sat down on Easter Sunday and started writing. The ideas flowed into the page, the words spilled out and the deeper I dove into my novel, the more that freely came out. At first I had NO CLUE how my story would end what-so-ever, but as I wrote the ideas kept coming, plots and twists developed themselves and suddenly the ending came to me while in the shower. Five days....that's all it took for my first draft.
Now yes, I will have a lot more work on the second draft than those meticulous planners, but how many planners drop down a novel in five days? Hmmm..I would have to say none. Most spent over five days planning it all out most likely.
So, do you need a plot or an outline for planning your novel?
The answer in my opinion is no, but that being said, some people need that rigid way of working to keep on task and hey, that is okay too. What matters is not how you go to the end, but that you GOT TO THE END.