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Surprise! Despite Intentions, This Post is Not What I Set Out to Write…

Way back in December 2020, I started writing a post about ditching New Years’ Resolutions and what to do instead (setting intention). That was before I ended up in the hospital and even my intentions, such as a wildly successful book launch, got hit by a tidal wave.

Around the time I started this post — seems like ages ago now!

Here’s how the original post began…still fitting, and stay with me: I know that resolution month is over…and that’s where the surprise comes in–and I promise it relates to writing a book!

Discovering My Grammar School Diary

A decade ago I found my old diary from elementary school. It included six or seven years of New Years’ Resolutions. And you know what shocked me?

The same darn resolutions every year.

Sure, by sixth grade I could spell “biting” rather than “bitting.” But every year my list contained the top three:

  • Stop biting my nails.
  • Be kinder to my siblings.
  • Control my temper! (Actually, many years, all my resolutions contained multiple exclamation points; I hadn’t yet learned the rules of writing from Frank Conroy and Strunk and White.)

Talk about “shoulding” on myself. And setting myself up for failure.

New Years’ resolutions rarely work. So, ditch ’em.

What to do instead: Set Intentions

Try setting intentions.

When you intend, you invite in possibility, rather than resist your “bad habits” and judge yourself. It’s a different energy.

In fact, intentions can be fun and playful.

You can intend more fun in your life. You can intend to notice the positives. You can’t fail at intentions.

As you may know, I love to journal…

That’s where the post ended. I was probably going to write, “So I’m thinking of ‘Enjoy journaling’ as my intention” but I’m not sure, so feel free to fill in whatever you think I was going to say!

Before Intention

After the hospital, I’m still drawn to the idea of intentions, but I also realize that there’s something even more important before intentions come into play…Silence. Listening. Being.

Our Labradoodle Sophie, contemplating with me.

And after setting an intention, more time for silence, listening, being. Stillness. Letting the inner voice guide one’s actions.

With my energy still going into healing, I spend a lot of time on the couch. And sleeping. And recording my dreams from the previous night’s sleep, looking for the layered meanings and messages I’m sending to my waking self.

In the Stillness

The view of today’s snow. My camera doesn’t quite show the white snow on the branches but it’s there!

I look out our living room window at the new view (we pruned our out-of-control forsythia and the bushes in front of our porch and now, in the winter at least, we see a lot of more of the expansive winter berry bush with its dark branches and bright red berries, and, beyond that bush and a border of green yews, patches of the wintery ice-blue of Narragansett Bay).

Today, it’s especially magical with the snow falling and forming a bright contrast on the stark, branchy trees.

In my dream-work, I’ve set intentions about healing. Now, I listen for guidance and clarity. And I let that be enough.

Work waits. My book launch waits without a date. I’m clearing space for life to show up and teach me what it’s asking of me right now. It feels strange. Yes. It requires something new of me. Sometimes it feels scary, but it also feels like a new beginning. And new beginnings need space to form.

It’s Not That Different with Writing a Book

At the beginning of my Bring Your Book to Life(R) Program, I invite participants to create a vision statement for their book. A setting of intention, of sorts.

meditating, silence
Contemplation in nature is easiest for me when it’s warm!

And now, with my new insights, I think I will add a step before creating a vision: time first for quiet contemplation—walks in nature, meditation, just sitting still. And, then, set your intention and create your vision.

If you’ve already created a vision statement and you’re already working on your book, that’s okay. Take a step back every once in a while; be in the stillness, the field of possibilities. Perhaps even start your writing practice with the silence. Breathe. Be. Wait.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Marie A. says

    I just now became aware of your hospitalization, etc., Lisa. Divine health and wellness be yours!

    Yes! “Contemplation in nature is easiest for me when it’s warm,” too.

    Best wishes,
    Marie

  2. Tracy Desjardins says

    Lisa, I just found you online recently and I am in the works with your wonderful help, Quick Start to Kick Start your Book guide. I am halfway through and I am finally gaining clarity and organization of the bees nest of thoughts in my mind about what I want to say in my book (first timer). I am enjoying your weekly emails and this process and I am especially loving this blog post you are sharing about your past childhood journaling, setting intentions and stillness (a struggle for my type A self). May God surround you with all things healing and peace right now. I am grateful to have found you. With gratitude, Tracy D.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thank you, Tracy. I so appreciate your prayer/blessing. It’s an interesting and quiet, yet rich and unusual time right now for me (and I think many others). I am so glad you are finding Quick Start and the emails/blogs helpful and, more importantly, that you are writing prolifically. Halfway–that’s exciting. Let me know any way I can support you!

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thank you Dan! I so appreciate your supportive words. I’m getting there! And this quieter time is rich too. Just very different.

  3. Barbara says

    Lisa, I’m so glad to hear you’re home and taking time to renew your strength. So many of us are focusing on listening, meditating and gaining clarity. Sending prayers for your complete recovery. You’re snow covered yard is beautiful, but I too prefer my walks outside to be in the warm weather. Stay safe.

  4. Dr. Elizabeth Michas says

    Good to hear you are healing, Lisa. The message in your return to writing post is of great value to me. We learn a lot through unexpected events, and challenges often gain flexibility, new insights and resilience. I will remember your advice to develop a clear intention, be still, wait, and then open to what’s next. Take good care of yourself.

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