Capturing Time for the Muse

Issue 1

Capturing Time for the Muse

By Vicki McElfresh  

©2001, Vicki McElfresh

"I like to write, but I just don't have the time."  

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this excuse, I would be a wealthy woman.  No one has time to write.  Writing well requires sacrifice, dedication, and hard work, and practice.  Unfortunately, practice requires time. 

My dream has always been to write full time, but as a single parent, that dream is on a far-away horizon.   I don't have free time, and finding time to dedicate to writing is a struggle.   Writing during the day is almost impossible.  I work full-time as a computer programmer, and I spend most of my day dealing with office tedium.   In the midst of the phone calls, pages, and computer problems, my creative urge disappears. 

By the time I get home in the evening, I'm tired, frustrated, and usually tense.  The last thing I want to do is sit down in front of the computer for a few more hours.   Besides, I still have to trick my son into eating supper and convince him that taking a bath is fun, both of which are major chores.  When I accomplish these, I'm still keyed up from work, and I spend time playing games and reading stories to my son to relax.   By the time he finally goes to sleep, I'm usually exhausted, but I still want to write.  So I am left with two options, either get up a few hours earlier in the morning or fight off the exhaustion and stay up.  Since I long ago made a promise not to watch the sun rise, I stay up and dedicate the hours between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. to writing. 

During those hours, I turn off the TV, listen to instrumental music, and, when I'm really serious, I also turn off the internet.   Giving up chatting and surfing while I write is hard, but if I want to reach my goal, I have to. 

 When I dedicated that block of time to writing, I also chose to write every day. My daily goal is 1000 words.  Sometimes I do more, and other times I'm lucky to eke out the 1000.   I write when I'm tired and sick.  I write when my muse has deserted me and the world around me is falling apart.  With every word, I keep that dream of writing full time shining in front of me.  It is embodied in the little card on my desk that says, "Keep the faith, keep hope alive."   I don't allow myself to make excuses, because if I do, I'll end up picking up a book or surfing the web, and my stories will still be waiting.

I cringe every time I hear the words, "I don't have time to write."  Especially when I see that person posting endless messages on the boards or spending hours upon hours in chat.  When I hear those words, I want to say, "You don't have time to write, but I find time to write.  And if I can find time, anyone can."  Writing every day may not be a possibility, especially for students, but making the commitment to write two or three days a week for an hour a day is a possibility.

I would be willing to wager there's a free hour in everyone's day.  Just  giving up the evening news, two sitcoms, or a drama show frees up an hour.  Sacrificing an hour of sleep frees up an hour.  There are 24 hours in the day, and I am certain that not each one of them is used up by work, family, or other responsibilities.  Not writing because there's no time isn't an excuse; it's a cleverly disguised way of saying, "I don't want to."