Tuesday, July 19, 2011

10,000 Hours

I'm reading Shania Twain's autobiography, From This Moment On, and in it she mentions the 10,000 hour rule, which was completely new to me. The rule says that no one can be an expert at anything without at least 10,000 hours of practice. This breaks down to about three hours a day for a period of ten years.

I've been thinking about this in terms of my writing, because I was always in such a rush before, and now I'm learning to slow down and settle into what it is that I'm actually trying to accomplish. I don't want to just write a bestseller or sell a screenplay anymore. Now I'm thinking in terms of building a career. One that will last, and where I will continue to get better and better with what I am doing.

It's an important shift in my thinking. I don't have as much to prove to the world as I once did. Now I want to do this for myself, and make it last. Having a flash-in-the-pan success and then never being able to sustain it no longer interests me. I want to get better at the craft of writing, and self publishing, and promoting what I'm doing, and I no longer expect that I should have some innate sense of how to do these things.

I have to learn, like everyone else, and put in the time to practice what I'm doing in order to get better. I must make mistakes, and not be defeated by them. With each rejection, I choose to either improve and get better, or I give up. I want to reach my 10,000 hours and know that I got better and better, each step of the way, and to stop looking for shortcuts.

There is only hard work, and perseverance, and never, ever giving up. Talent might be in the mix, but it comes further down the list. Without the practice time, and the element of being in the right place at the right time, and teaching yourself what you need to know, there is no success, and certainly no long-term career. I wish I would've understood this when I was younger, but it's better late than never.

I've been writing since I was a kid, but I'm nowhere near the 10,000 hours it takes to become an expert. But I'm on the right road, and I'm not wasting all of my time being jealous of those who are further ahead than me, and I'm no longer looking for a magic bullet so I can avoid the hard work.

I'm writing, every day, and learning to navigate the learning curve that is social media, and adding in self publishing to my skill set. I'm working toward those 10,000 hours, and trying to stay focused on my own game plan. Where I fail, I can pick myself up and keep going. It helps to know that it takes a long time, and that I'm right where I need to be at this moment in time.


  1. I've been writing for over 10 years now, but definitely haven't spent 3 hours a day on writing in those years. Good to know I've still got time to practice! :) One author who really encourages me is Lisa Samson, because I read her first book and her most recent book (at the time) and there was a HUGE difference in the writing. So I thought, if she can learn and grow like that, so can I. (At least my first attempts at writing aren't published for someone to find in a small-town library!)

  2. I recently read that most authors don't get their first book published, and there is likely a good reason for that! It's encouraging to think of how long it can take to become expert at something, as that helps me not to give up when I feel like I'm floundering around and not improving. We are actually improving all of the time - hooray!