How to Write with Intention

Setting intentions is a powerful tool for helping us achieve writerly happiness and fulfillment. They provide us with insight to our writer self’s values, aspirations, and purpose. Our intentions allow us to live in the present moment while still aiming toward new achievements. Setting an intention is one step toward our goal. The intention, because it’s something that comes from our heart or mind, will satisfy and fulfill us as we continue our journey toward our goal.

What is an intention?

An intention is an actionable step toward a writing goal. You can have one or many throughout the day. You can repeat intentions or you can mix them up depending on your targeted goals. An intention can be purely spiritual (boosting self-confidence), it can be related to productivity (aiming for a specific daily word count), or it can be about anything you need to accomplish.

An intention should be directly related to a specific writing goal you want to attain. For example, if your writing goal is to complete your novel in six months, then a suitable intention could be to write 1,000 words during your writing sessions. Maybe your writing has been disrupted frequently, so an intention could be that you will wake up one hour earlier than normal in order to get some writing done in a quieter household. Perhaps you’ve allowed a fear to run the show and you haven’t tended to your writing as regularly as you want. An intention could be to meditate for fifteen minutes before a writing session.

You could define an intention as a goal, but the difference is that an intention keeps us in alignment with our bigger goals. It’s really easy to go after a big or long-term goal only to realize—later—that we set the wrong goal or that we’ve gone off track. Intentions keep our writer and real-world selves aligned and on track.

How to set an intention every day

  • Best to do this first thing, or as close to the start of the day as possible. Say your intention out loud—this helps strengthen your commitment.
  • You can choose a different intention for each day, or focus on the same intention day after day. Totally up to you.
  • Intentions will help you stay grounded and focused on your writing goal—even if it’s a chaotic or disruptive day. Repeating your intention throughout the day helps to keep you focused and centered.
  • Create a ritual that feels comfortable to you as you set your intention. This might include meditation or a gathering/prepping of your writing equipment into your workspace. The ritual helps to energize your intention—not only are you saying this is what you’re going to do to attain your writing goal, you’re also taking actionable steps.
  • If you’re having trouble setting intentions for a particular goal, then take another look at your goal. That could be where you’ve gone wrong. You want to choose writing goals that align with your life’s values, aspirations, and purpose (natural writing forces). An intention won’t work for you if there isn’t a valuable reason for why you want to achieve the goal that intention is meant for. Be sure to write down your thoughts as you follow these steps to creating goals that will add meaning to your life.

Aligning your natural writing forces and goals

  1. Decide what truly matters to you.Your values drive the actions you take. Honoring your values will help you find fulfillment in your writing life. You can set powerful intentions based on your values. Write down at least five things that truly matter to you. Some examples may be happiness, creativity, family, spirituality, or health.
  2. Explore the areas you want to improve. Our real-world lives often impact (positively or negatively) our writing goals. Where in your real-world life could you improve or strengthen to support your writing goals? Consider your relationships, time management, social life, community, or health. Using the values you determined in the first step, decide how you might go about strengthening these areas so that you have a better chance at achieving your writing goals.
  3. Be SMART. The best, most effective goals are the ones you design with thought, care, and precision. Be sure to think about what you need to do to accomplish these goals and what might prevent you from achieving them.
  4. Decide on a short-term and a long-term writing goal. These will vary widely depending on where you’re at in your journey and what your ultimate destination is. Set intentions that will help you achieve this goal. Writing down your intentions and your goals is hugely helpful in staying disciplined.

Keep in mind: setting intentions help create the present moment. The important part is not if you reach your goal. The important part is that you are living and writing every day in accordance to your values and how you envision yourself as a writer.

Intentions keep us in the “here and now” rather than obsessing over what will happen down the road. As writers, this difference is sanity-saving. Too often we are thinking about reviews before we’ve sold our books, sales before we’ve published, thinking about publishing before we’ve finished the novel, thinking about finishing the novel before we’ve nailed down our premise statement. While knowing where we are headed is important, it should never be more important than appreciating and honoring where we are today.

Do you set intentions toward your writing goals? Share them below!

Have a writerly day!

14 thoughts on “How to Write with Intention”

    • Thanks, Jill. Family time was fun and now it’s back to the grind. 🙂 I, too, love checking things off. I’ll even write tasks on a list that I already completed just so I can check it off and feel good, haha!

    • Free Saturday mornings–ah, the memories. To me, that means eating cold cereal on the couch while watching Saturday morning cartoons–back in the day when that was the ONLY time cartoons were on TV. 🙂

  1. I like the sense of accomplishment that comes with getting things done, so I set intentions. Whether this is because my spirit moves me or it’s a habit I got into in college I don’t know. Whatever works, works.

  2. I like the idea of setting intentions. I make lists, but I don’t count that as the same. I’m going to try your suggestion, starting tomorrow morning! I think my problem is that I have SO MANY intentions. I probably need to winnow them down some. Enjoy the rest of summer – the sun and heat feel sooooo good.

    • Due to major technical glitches on my blog I did not see your comment until now, Pam! Mercury in retrograde–ugh.

      Yes, I have the same problem with over-intentioning. There are so many things I want to do and it’s hard to pick and choose. Maybe we ought to try pulling one out of a hat each day? 🙂

  3. Debby Gies sent me here, and I’m not disappointed. Thank you for your advice about being intentional. Now in pre-book launch stage, I must focus on one-thing-at-a-time on my mammoth to-do list.

    • Marian–so sorry to have missed this comment. I’ve been having major trouble with getting comment notifications and only now just saw this!

      Debby Gies is one of my favorite bloggers–she is such a treat. Congratulations on your upcoming book. So exciting! Yes, I can imagine the to-do list is horrendous. One thing at a time is a great start, and that usually will get you enough energy to fit in a couple more here and there. Good luck!

Leave a Comment