notebookEvery week writers ask me: how do I get more writing done? I just can’t get to it. Stories swirl around in my head, but…

This is a typical, but daunting problem. All of us are so busy, that sitting down to find creative thoughts, or to even know what we are thinking seems impossible. Writing a memoir does take an effort of energy and intention. We must think about the past and figure out which aspects of the past that we want to choose–after all, life is long and complex; and then–what words to use? How much to tell? The inner critic starts yammering–”you can’t write that, they’ll disinherit you!”

With all that noise it is easier to take a walk, do the dishes, or dust the mantle. Many writers marvel how clean their house is when they are supposed to write.

What to do?

First, schedule your writing date in your datebook. Get rid of distractions. Turn off your cell phone! Don’t answer any phones! Turn off your email announcements and chimes.

Second, keep a writing journal either online or in a notebook, jotting down what you were writing last and what the story or vignette was about. Then each time you want to write, you will have an easier time finding yourself and your voice.

Third: announce that you are going to write to your best writing buddy and ask your friend to keep you accountable. Create your own support group. You don’t have to show her the writing, just have her ask you if you did it, and how long you wrote.

Fourth: If that inner critic is bothering you, write down what it says and put it aside. Take a few minutes for this. You inner critic also does things like TEMPT you not to write. It is not always a nasty voice. Sometimes it is sweet: “Oh, you have worked so hard, you deserve a rest. Sure you scheduled that time to write, but just sit down, put your feet up, and pop in a movie. Take it easy.”

Try these techniques and soon you will develop new habits. The way to get more writing done is to make writing dates that are shorter, such as twenty or thirty minutes. You will be surprised at how much you get done!

Keep writing!