Thursday, December 8, 2011

Setting intentions

by Carleen Brice, author of the novels Orange Mint and Honey and Children of the Waters 

A good friend of mine says she sets New Year's intentions instead of making New Year's resolutions. She says resolutions seem too goal-oriented. According to this great online article on "The Power of Intention" intentions are a way “'to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim'....
By setting an intention, you make it clear to yourself and others, just what you plan to do. Set an intention to redefine what it means to be serious about your dreams."

*I like this idea. With the new year coming up and being in hardcore revision mode I'm thinking again of my writing intentions.

On a blog about writing, it’s easy to focus on the craft of writing: Characters, plot, setting, storytelling. It’s sometimes easy to focus on the business of writing: Do I need an agent? Should I self-publish or not? How do I build my platform? These things are important, and I know I speak for all of us Girlfriends here when I say that we hope we can help you improve your books and your writing careers.

Today, however, I'm hoping to get you to think about what writing means to you, what purpose you want your work to serve for you and for your readers. Being an author offers an amazing opportunity to express ourselves. We have a deep responsibility to get it right, to honor this opportunity, to not waste it or treat it frivolously.

As far as my intentions go, I've been thinking about what deeper things I want from writing and what I hope to give through it. As I finish up this revision on my third novel here are the intentions I'm (again) setting:

I want my writing to be entertaining and interesting. I hope that readers might laugh and cry when they read my books. But I want my writing to mean something more than that too. I want my writing to touch people, to make them feel known and understood, if only for the short time they spend with my characters. I want to make them think, to maybe see things a little differently or at least understand how others might see things a little differently. And maybe I, too, can learn something from all this, can see things a little differently, understand something a little more.

Those are my intentions. What are yours? (Try Flying Wish Paper for a fun way to set your intentions.)

Happy Holidays and happy writing!

*This blog post was inspired by a former post I did on my personal blog.


  1. It's funny that you write about intentions because I read a similar article the other day on that very topic. I love to make intentions before I clothes shop because I don't like to clothes shop and so I want to be as expedient as possible. So I say, "I intend to find a little black dress that will make me look skinny" and sure enough, it'll be easy to find.

  2. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Instead, I look at myself throughout the year and jot down what I want to “manifest” in my life. As a writer, it’s funny that I haven’t thought about why I write in the past. It’s just something I did…something I never could step away from…something that kept compelling me to come back to it no matter how many times I left it. Anyway, not to be longwinded, but I guess my intent is to leave a legacy for my daughter and other generations to come.

  3. Intention is so important. I ask myself everyday; Who do I want to be as a writer? How do I want my stories to be felt?Comedy or a drama? Tears or laughter? You definitely have to choose and decide on your purpose. Writing blindly because you have a good idea often leads to strange places. Now I map out my story, I state my INTENTIONS scene by scene, I'm always checking to make sure the story is being told by ME and not influenced by all the noise. It's too easy to be distracted from your original intention. Storytelling is not for the flighty as one would think. Of all the arts it's probably one of the most strategic and planned, or at least it should be. Yes, you want it to feel whimsical and move effortlessly from page to page, but all that takes time and effort. Making it look easy is where the work comes in.

    Thank you, Carleen, for another thought provoking blog.

  4. This is a very lovely way to revamp the traditional try-and-fail nature of New Year's resolutions. Just the idea of setting intentions rather than resolutions sets one free to explore the idea of a hope or dream rather than committing it to a firm life goal that you will inevitably fail at.

    I have not set any intentions yet but I plan to. I think resolutions meant well, but they basically set me up to let me down. That is a recipe for ultimate discouragement and failure--and I don't live in that world. What else do I have but being able to trust and believe in myself? So... I wrote to say I like this and will definitely consider what my intentions are for the coming year--for life in general, since I have not claimed to be a writer. :)

    Thank you for this post!

  5. Thanks everybody for reading and for your additions to the conversation!

  6. Trisha, You should blog about the strategic nature of writing. It's so true and yet not commonly discussed!

  7. My intentions - to let my characters breathe. To stop worrying about the market and being angry about how often "we" aren't in it in any meaningful way and just write from my gut without editing the words that flow. That's my intention going forward. I will make a joyful noise from the tip of my pen.

  8. I love this, Carleen! I am going to make intensions this year as well!! And since your intentions for writing are so good, do you mind if I use them for my own?!