"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
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.