Growing Intentionality


On my recent trip to Portland, I took time out to explore the Japanese Gardens, noted as one of the most authentic in North America. The misty northwest setting lent a magical quality to the landscape. Even before I walked through the gate, I couldn’t help feeling this was a place for imagination.IMG_7175

If you know anything about Japanese gardening, you know it’s incredibly precise. Yet it also seeks to work with the “bones” of the land to create a design that’s harmonious with nature.

Ponds, brooks, bridges, and sculpture abound in some parts of the garden. In others, stones or other non-living objects may be arranged artfully to create a calming environment all their own.


As I strolled through the various gardens I couldn’t help marvel at how intention they were. Each vista, each moment along the path was carefully crafted for effect. Yet the gardeners had worked hard to ensure the journey felt as natural and organic as if I’d found an overgrown path on the slopes of Mt. Hood.


When you think about it, all of this is not much different from the work of a Storyteller or Maker. Each story or object we create is a garden, grown from the soil of our imagination. How we tend that garden—that is, whether or not we craft it with intentionality—ultimately impacts the reader/user and their delight in our work.

Not every story has to be as micro managed down to every last detail as a Japanese garden, of course. Your story might be more like an American wildflower garden that is crafted to appear as if it grew on its own.


In either case, the intentionality and craftsmanship of the gardener are still central to the final experience.


I came away from Portland’s Japanese Garden refreshed and inspired—and resolved to craft each piece of my work with the same intentionality of a gardener tending her prized patch of Nature.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at ways to do this across multiple media. In the mean time: it’s your turn. How do you build intentionality into your creative work?

5 thoughts on “Growing Intentionality

  1. I think I do this by knowing what sort of feel I want the story to have going in. Anything that doesn’t have that feel doesn’t belong in the story. I remember being inspired by that in some notes written by C.S. Lewis in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He said he wanted it to be a pearly, green sort of story. I think he achieved that through the sensory details that, though they weren’t a part of the actual plot of the story, they backed up the feel of the main story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bethany, this is such a great example! I love C.S. Lewis’s words, and also that he was able to associate a color and an aesthetic with his story. 🙂 Maybe I should do that for my story tomorrow, eh? What a great way to be intentional!


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