…Try, Try Again, aka Practice

I remember reading somewhere that you have to do something for 10,000 hours before you can be considered “an expert.”  Ten thousand hours.  That breaks down to 250 weeks of full time work, which is about 5 years.  That’s fine for people who work full time in their jobs, but who can afford to put 40 hours a week of writing in for 5 years until they’re really good?

I know I’m being dramatic, but I think it makes a good point.  Most of us doing any kind of artwork, whether writing, photography, or some other physical medium, have been doing it without pay for a long time, probably in one form other another since we were children.  I know I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to write.  They’ve definitely evolved over the years, which is a good thing.  So let’s break this number down a little bit.  I’ve been writing for 26 years.  That means if I put in 384 hours a year, or 7.3 hours a week, I can consider myself an expert.  I’ll be honest; I don’t write an hour a day, not consistently.  There are days I can put 6 hours in front of a computer in, and other days when I just can’t.

We all have lives.  We have pets and spouses and children to feed.  We have cars to maintain and houses to clean.  Sometimes all the things in “life” can be pretty overwhelming.  Whatever time you put in, if it’s 40 hours a week, 7 hours a week, or 10 minutes a day, you’ll reach your goals eventually.  You can become an expert.  It just might take longer than it would have if you were rich and could spend every minute of every day writing.

I often don’t post on Mondays because I just get too busy.  Mondays are one of my busiest days.  But I try.  And I almost always get back on track Tuesday.

Below I have the quote that inspired this post.  It’s a little long, but well worth reading.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
― Ira Glass


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