Monday, July 15, 2013

If I had 10,000 Hours

If you have never read Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, I can't recommend it enough. A friend of mine asked if I  had read it, and I replied that no I hadn't, but I had read The Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon as a humorous retort being they both have very similar titles. She offered that she would read my book if I read hers and I readily agreed. I hit Google and read the review for Outliers and thought for sure she got the better deal. In fact, I was so sure, that I got my copy of The Outlander off the shelf and began reading it again for the 5th or 6th time.

Outliers is a book about the most brilliant, famous and successful people and what makes them so different. I'm about half way through and what I have read so far is fascinating. One thing that I found particularly interesting is the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice at any thing to become a master of it. That's roughly 416.6 days, if you were to go at whatever the thing was  you were doing non-stop. Let's consider that you have 3 hours a day to devote to whatever your passion is. I base this estimate on the number of hours I would love to devote to knitting in a perfect world. You might think, surely you could find 3 hours in any given day, and perhaps if I managed some of my time better, and the kids weren't involved with so many things, this could be a reality, but mostly, unless it's the dead of winter, or a vacation, it's not the case. If I devoted 3 hours to knitting every day, it would take me 3,333.3 days to reach 10,000 hours. That's 9 years and some odd number of weeks that I can't work out because I don't do math during summer break. 9 years to become a master at my craft. I have been knitting for 10 years, so if you consider that some days I have knit for more than 3 hours, and some days I have knit for 0 hours, maybe it has all evened out, and it could be said that I am a master knitter? I don't know.

So then I thought about the notion that if money were no object (have you seen this video, it's fantastic), I would stay home and write. I would renovate this little room that used to be a playroom for my children into the most comfortable kind of home office, and I would write. If I wrote for 5 hours a day, because let's be realistic, a lot of time spent writing is also time spent thinking, it would take 2,000 days to get to 10,000 hours. That's almost 5.5 years. I don't find that ridiculous to think about at all. Yet, if I were a bad writer, after 5.5 years of writing for 5 hours every single day, would I still be considered a master writer, or would I be a fool who's mastered the art of writing?

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