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Don’t want to write? Rev up your intentions

These languid summer days, after some necessary business with my dissertation coaching and editing clients, I resist doing my personal writing. Generally, I manage to balance (or struggle with or squeeze) the ever-ongoing writing projects—novel, stories, essays, poems—with the client work. If I don’t do something on my own writing, the day will feel wasted and I didn’t fulfill at least a little of my writing promise to myself.

To tease myself into writing on a particularly steamy day (despite the air conditioning), I remembered a technique that academic and creative coach Dr. Dominique Chlup (2016) teaches her clients. This is to first set your writing intentions: ask yourself how you want to feel writing during this session or having written.

The Value of Writing Out Your Intentions

So, after some classic stalling (the microwave had to be cleaned), I started this session by writing my intentions. This writing does several things:

  1. You actually write!
  2. You break the formidable barrier of inertia.
  3. You begin to engage your mind and tiptoe into the project.
  4. You declare your intentions—your writing goals in this session.

If you’re not sure of the power of our intentions, realize that they carry our desire to reach a goal, objective, aim. Remind yourself too, as many spiritual teachers tell us, that if you have the desire and intention for something, you inherently possess the means for its fulfillment. In his book on intention, Dyer (2004) tells us that it is indeed powerful: “[I]ntention is not something you do, but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy!” (p. 4).
So, by writing out our intentions, we’ harnessing that force. We’re taking charge of our lives, molding them as we truly desire. We’re also articulating what we want to attract. And we’re changing our mental state from hand-wringing laments that we’re avoiding writing to actually looking forward to it, or at least doing it.

I Set My Intentions

That hand-wringing state is painful and frustrating, and I wanted to change it. So, instead of worrying about all the other things staring at me on my desk, I went outside with my notebook and clipboard, away from the desk. I sat and looked at the sky with gratitude. Then I took a few deep breaths and closed my eyes. My mind started to relax. I realized too that I wanted my expression of intentions to incorporate all aspects of my mind/body—thoughts, ideas, feelings, words, pictures, actions.

Following from Chlup, I asked myself, How do I want to feel writing now? And having written?

Initially, no thoughts came. Then, almost automatically, in my notebook I started scribbling furiously. Here are some of my answers: Calm, listening for the next step, led, obeying, recognizing right expressions and sequence, feeling fully here, totally involved, entertained, satisfied, even admiring, physically comfortable, effortless flow of right words and phrases, pages mounting, proudly logging the session time.

These words enabled me to get started, and I flipped to the current page of my clipboard. And got going. After the session, I looked at my intention list and saw, with some amazement, that I now felt all these things.

Other fiction writers using this technique have told me they wrote such statements as “Knowing I’m fulfilling my purpose,” “Confidence that it’s good,” “Loving to continue.” Fellow academics report they wrote these messages to themselves: “Taking hold of the literature,” “Seeing the logic,” and “I believe in this monograph!”

Does It Work?

Absolutely! Colleagues praise it mightily, as I do. And they have similar experiences to mine. As I sneak into the writing itself, the inertia and blocks fade away. I become immersed in the project and have a great session.
You can use this method for any type of writing, at any time, and for any session, or part of a session if you get stuck. The act of writing out our intentions helps us to break those insidious recurring writing blocks. In enunciating our intentions, we’re taking control of our negative feelings about writing and changing them for the better. So, start your next session by writing your intentions. You’ll likely find new enthusiasm, conviction, pleasure, and confidence in your work.


Chlup, D. T. (2016). From blocked to breakthrough: The art of stress-free
creating. The Academic Author (Textbook and Academic Authors Association], 3, 5-6.

Dyer, W. (2004). The power of intention: Learning to do-create your world your way.
Hay House.

© 2021 Noelle Sterne

Guide to Making Time to Write
Noelle is a contributor to TAA’s book, Guide to Making Time to Write: 100+ Time & Productivity Management Tips for Textbook and Academic Authors. Available as a print and eBook.

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Noelle SterneDissertation coach, nurturer, bolsterer, handholder, and editor; scholarly and mainstream writing consultant; author of writing craft, spiritual, and academic articles; and spiritual and motivational counselor, Noelle Sterne has published over 600 pieces in print and online venues, including Author Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children’s Book Insider, Graduate Schools Magazine, GradShare, InnerSelf, Inspire Me Today, Transformation Magazine, Unity Magazine, Women in Higher Education, Women on Writing, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Noelle has for 30 years helped doctoral candidates wrestle their dissertations to completion (finally). Based on her practice, her Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, September 2015) addresses students’ often overlooked or ignored but crucial nonacademic difficulties that can seriously prolong their agony. See the PowerPoint teaser here. In Noelle`s Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), she draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets and reach lifelong yearnings. Following one of her own, she is currently working on her third novel. Visit Noelle at