One part of the Eightfold path described by Buddha is Right Intention, also called Right Resolve. Or at least those are two English translations of the original terms. My understanding of Right Intention is that it is about having the intention of letting go of things rather than grasping for the things we desire in a way that causes suffering. It’s also about the intention of good will and the intention of harmlessness to others. I hope I’m explaining this well enough, I’m certainly intending to do so.
I think about this in terms of many areas of my life, but today I’m going to apply it to writing. My writing is part of my practice, even though I have oft neglected this part of what I do. Why I’ve neglected it is rooted in self-doubt, which I’ve written about.
I’m here. I’m showing up to my practice today. It’s not an easy thing for me to be willing to sit here and type words, knowing that my inner critic is right there judging every sentence, telling me I’ll be judged by anyone else who reads them.
But Right Intention as applied to my writing practice should mean letting go of that negativity, letting go of that self-doubt, recognizing that those feelings are useless. They might be arising for a true purpose, a real function, or a dysfunction, an attempt to proactively protect me from future criticism by laying it on me now in hopes that I don’t click publish. I will click publish. I will practice letting go. I have the desire for my words to be appreciated, but I will need to let go of that as often as I can. I know that one will arise again and again, because I write both to express whatever it is I want to express, but also because I enjoy bringing some kind of emotional reaction in others. I want my sad stories to make people get in touch with sadness. I want my joyful sentences to lift some hearts. I want my scary tales to make readers look over their shoulders. These are all desires, and they’re not “bad” desires. Yet because they are desires and we tend to hold on too tightly to our desires, it causes suffering when the results don’t match them. Therefore, let go. Write. And let go. Notice the reactions of others, appreciate them, and let go.
How I can apply the similar intentions of good will and harmlessness to writing is easier, I think. I write because I want what I write to be a benefit to others, whether it’s encouragement or entertainment or education. I don’t write stuff intended to cause problems. I definitely won’t write negative posts about people, even if I might feel unhelpful feelings about what they do. We can stand up for those who need our voices, whether spoken, signed, or written. We can do this without resorting to hateful language.
I paused here for a long while to consider what else I might say on this topic. Sometimes you have to study your thoughts and feelings in order to understand them.
I don’t know if I will always write posts like this one and the others I’ve written. More than anything else I write, what I truly love the most is crafting stories and novels, particularly fiction. I absolutely love world-building in writing. The truth is that because of having neglected my writing practice for so long, my storytelling “muscles” feel weaker. My storytelling muscles will need to be exercised. This feels like a way back to that place.
My WRITE intention, then, is to find my way back.