Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | June 15, 2011

Finding the time to write…

Or at the very least, what to do when you don’t have the time to write.

Of all the topics to talk about while being an aspiring author, this has got to be my least favorite.  After all, I would assert that talking about why one can’t get to it is easily the most popular writing subject of all time.  It certainly keeps anyone that’s wanted to write but never finished their project busy.

So, suffice to say, there are times when you simply cannot write because of the basic fact of the universe that you are doing something else.  And if that something else is terribly important and doesn’t like to share your time, that’s that. 

Well, here’s an observation I’ve made.  Writing isn’t relegated to the words on page.  In fact, I’d have to say that this would be the main reason I ever got into writing in the first place.  That I was actually writing from the inside the whole time.  Ever since I was a child, I’d see the characters in movies, TV shows, books, people I’d see, continue to perform in my head.  It was a favorite pastime of mine, both during the day or trying to fall asleep at night (or keeping myself from sleep, as it were).  The characters were busy on my mental stage, often putting considerably more time than would have fit in the original movie I saw them in.

There actually was a point where I realized that maybe I was doing this more than the average person might be.  (Insert profound orchestral segment.)  That’s the point I began to write.

So there’s a solution here.  I’m a software developer by profession, and when we need code to happen in a place where it’s not, we say we need a hook there.  A hook is a place-holder for some programmer to put code in later.  Like, a hook for getting me coffee while I read email (okay, we’re not that powerful).

A hook for writing while I’m doing something else, like that project I had to do at home, nights and weekends, for several months.

Writing isn’t relegated to the words on page.  If software development is what is keeping me busy, what would keep my protagonist busy if they were in a similar predicament?  Wanting to do one thing but having to do this instead…

I’m complaining about not getting to write, what are they complaining about, and to whom? 

The friends are calling to go to a movie but we’re in the basement hoping Mom won’t smell the candles and the baby sister won’t say that we were drawing circles on the floor again.  We’d love to go out, but if we don’t get into that witch coven we’ll never get out of being just a wannabe witch.

Now, how much of that herb is supposed to go into this mix again…

The hook has found purchase now.  And if I were to give myself a small window of time later to write just a little bit, the hook has already given me a jump.  In fact, by the time I get to that little window of time, I will most likely have done a whole lot more with that little hook.  As we say in the software development biz, when the code’s good, it tends to write itself.

Those are the best times to write.  When you’ve got it on your mind, even if you had to force putting it there, and it’s already personal.  The characters were given your personal emotions and they ran with it.  Good stuff.

If only I had the same enthusiastic answer for revision. Winking smile


  1. I do something similar, Matt! I spend all day running around after my little one, so no writing gets done while she is awake. But while I’m feeding her or reading her the same book for the umpteenth time or pushing her on the swing or changing her diaper (especially when changing her diaper!), I am thinking of my story and where I’m going next. That way, when I get that precious 2-3 hours to work a day, I can dive right in and not waste time “getting up to speed.”


  2. Yep, the story keeps going whether we’re typing it down or not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: