The Intentional Writer


A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

—Thomas Mann


I dreamed one night that I was asked to announce the title of my next book publicly (from a stage of some kind). But as I stood there after making the announcement, I had the uneasy feeling that I had just announced the wrong book—that the audience was expecting me to give another title. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. unnerved.

My problem is that I have too much in my head and in my heart to write . . . and I don’t know which thread to pick up and begin to weave. I have several projects going at the same time, and it’s frustrating. And then I ran across this quote:

You have to write the book 

that wants to be written.

—Madeleine L’Engle 

But, you know, the book I want to write and the book “that wants to be written” may not be one and the same. I’m pondering that. 

The task of writing a book—whether fiction or nonfiction—causes me stress. I set a deadline for myself for certain sections, and then when I don’t meet it my stress increases. I go to bed with knots in my stomach and my mind zooming around the racetrack of things I need to do in addition to getting the manuscript out of my head and onto the paper. 

In another dream, I was doing squats. I do work out occasionally in the privacy of my own space. I never got into working out at a gym—it’s the introvert in me. But I actually do squats, and I even throw in a couple of yoga stretches to ease the stiffness I feel after sitting too long in one position. But in my dream, someone I couldn’t see was critiquing me. I kept trying to do those squats correctly—over and over—without success.  

This is a picture of my writing life. And that “someone” is that voice in my head that tells me what I do “is not quite right,” “is not perfect,” “is not of interest to anyone.” In the past, this voice caused me to either give up or start over. And I have done both too many times to count. Or I looked for a distraction and went on to others things, leaving my writing mid-sentence.

I have read that some of us move all around the edges of what is really in our hearts to write. Julia Cameron calls those of us who do this “shadow people.” But it is understandable—at least from my point of view—that if you are writing about your own life, as I do, there are a lot of edges to move around. This kind of writing is not for the faint of heart.

When I began writing my story, the memories of past failures and disappointments lined up ready to be broadcast to the world through my words. They were eager little things, shoving and pushing to have preeminence. As I searched the corners of my mind, I had a hard time finding those things I did right, those things that were good in my past, the moments of success, freedom, high-reaching, far-stretching, and wonderful. If I hadn’t come up with some of them to disperse throughout my story, it would have been a tragedy instead of a triumph. 

But I am leaving the impostor issues behind me as I move on in my writing. My heart is being healed. I have been replacing the lies I have believed about myself with the truth and then forgiving those who had a part in this. Writing from my true inner self becomes easier as I make progress. I am coming out of the shadows and away from the edges so that I can write transparently, genuinely, and truthfully. I have faced the darkness and have begun to cast light upon my story. 

I’m a busy woman with lots to do—if I choose to be; otherwise I am just another dreamer. And that’s where “intentional writing” comes into play. I have so much more to say.