Exploding the 10,000-hour Myth

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Exploding the 10,000-hour Myth

Recently I wrote an article where I pointed out that as a young writer, I had heard that it takes seven years of practice before the average person breaks into publishing.

That seven-year rule has always seemed somehow arbitrary to me, yet it does sound an awful lot like the popular notion that “It takes about 10,000 hours to master just about any discipline.”

I decided to try to reach a publishable level with my fiction in one year. In doing so, I not only managed to break into publishing in one year, selling short stories and obtaining a three-novel contract, I also won several awards.

It has always seemed to me that route practice of a craft isn’t enough. You can’t just show up at college and become a brain surgeon. You have to bring a certain amount of passion and discipline with you. You have to analyze your work, make adjustments, and push forward. You can’t be content just to learn from others, you have to try to make your own discoveries.

Now, the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to master just about any field of expertise is coming under attack, in part from the person who popularized the notion.

Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist whose research on expertise spawned the 10,000-hour rule of thumb, has reportedly said, “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.”

I like that notion. It’s one of the things that I teach in my writing workshops. No mindless following of instructions is allowed. Instead, I try to inspire authors to push themselves in new directions, to write things unlike what they’ve seen before.

So I thought that I would pass the article along for your edification.

Good luck on today’s writing goals!


Registration for my online writing workshops will be closing January 27th, so if you've been thinking about signing up for one, now would be a good time. You can do that here

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