Kathy Williams' Writing Tips

"The Happy Wanderer"
or "Will Pre-planning Stifle Your Creativity?"

By Kathy Williams

In my humble opinion, there are very few "by the seat of the pants" published writers. Oh sure, some will say they are, but I'd be willing to bet that most of them have an internalized idea of where they're going and a vague idea of how they will get there . . . even if they never put it on paper before they start.

I like to compare it to a trek I made a couple of years ago to my son and daughter-in-law's new apartment. I didn't bother to get directions because they told me what cross streets in Broomfield it was near, and I was sure I could easily find it since I knew where those cross streets were. Unfortunately, I drove into Broomfield from the other side of town. When I started across on a street I thought went through, it didn't. I soon found myself winding around on streets I'd never heard of, but since my sense of direction is pretty good during the day (I DO know which directions the mountains are, and it was a day with a clearly visible sun to guide me), I kept veering around to go in the right direction, overcoming deadends, streets that started in one direction and ended going another, etc. By the time I ended up on the right side of town, on the right street, and found their apartment, I felt like a modern explorer who had successfully traversed a new continent.

My point is: I made it to my destination without a map or written directions because I had an idea of where I was going.

Could I have gotten there more quickly if I'd used a written guide? Of course. But I also would have missed exploring other possibilities. Did those detours and dead ends keep me from getting to my destination? No, they only delayed it. But they also gave me a clearer idea of the whole "landscape" and a wealth of alternatives that I would never have thought about if I'd only taken the more-traveled route.

I write for Intimate Moments. At the moment, I don't feel confined by any of the parameters set by the line--strong heroes and heroines, emphasis on relationships, a sense of danger and tension, love scenes--because they want the kinds of stories I like to write. Within those parameters, I let my creativity run free.

So, should you have a plan--emphatically yes. The real question is how detailed it needs to be? The good news is: that's up to you and what you find most comfortable. You can stick pretty close to a detailed map or, if you prefer, start with a general idea of where you're going and allow yourself to explore every byway and side street along the way. It's your choice.