Monday, May 7, 2012

10,000 hours writing?

A Recent Book Baby blog: Have you written for 10,000 hours? got me thinking of Malcolm Gladwell’s book and working on the writing craft. Delving into his book and the chapter on 10,000 hours, Gladwell states (emphasis added):

"The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything," writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin. "In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world- class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery."

This ties well to the discussion earlier concerning the pros and cons between concentrating on marketing and concentrating on writing. Unless you have been writing 8 hours a day, for five years, you can probably stand to exercise that writing muscle.

If you have 10,000 hours under your belt, then you probably know that, like any master, the expertise fades with lack of use. It comes back faster, but still fades.

There are countless books on writing out there, by everyone from Stephen King to Forrester. All state the value of sitting down every day and writing, even if you throw that day’s writing away. The reasons are obvious with studies such as those cited by Gladwell. Not only does the writing muscle need exercise, it needs a lot of it.

Given the ease of self-publishing, this is one of the remaining reasons to still use a publisher. Time. Time to write.

Get to it!


  1. I quote the 10,000 hours theory all the time. The thing I love about it is that talent does not come into play with it. Even if you're not talented at a thing, spend 10,000 hours at it, and you will get good. Talent just makes the practice initially easier because you feel some accomplishment early on, but in the end, talented or not, it's the work, the 10,000 hours that count the most.

  2. Yes, the good news is almost anyone can get really good. Not everyone becomes a genius, but anyone can become good.

    Of course the studies don't factor in self selection. Those with NO talent probably don't try. The good news for most writers, by the time they think about it, is that they are at least average and thus the 10,000 hours apply.


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