Last week I took a personal spiritual retreat. For me that means a day or more away from routines and obligations, with a lot of walking, a lot of journaling, and a lot of solitude. The retreats that help me most begin with an intention. This one was about trust. One a few years ago was about self apart from roles and responsibilities.
Intentions are different from goals. In writing fiction, each scene is said to start with a goal the character sets out to accomplish. Achievable in the future, measurable and external, the goal creates urgency and suspense. It’s a set-up for success or failure that keeps the reader reading.
Intentions are deeper, quieter things. They involve awareness, focus, and purpose in the present. Why am I choosing to do this now? Getting distracted isn’t failure but a nudge to refocus. Intentions may shift but can’t be checked off on a to-do list.
Goals have their place. They can motivate one to push oneself or meet agreed timetables. Some people claim to thrive on urgency and suspense. My goal with this blog is to post a short entry every Monday, come what may. My intentions are to connect with you the reader, to hone my writing, and to add a steady rhythm to a writing life of mostly longer-term projects.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.