That’s the amount of intentional practice Dr. K. Anders Ericsson determined is needed to master a skill. He published his findings in the Harvard Business Review in 2007. Author Malcolm Gladwell popularized those findings in his book, Outliers, in 2008.
Just how long is 10,000 hours?
If you practiced full-time, 40 hours per week, it would take approximately five years to reach 10,000 hours.
But we’re not talking about just any level of practice. Dr. Ericksson notes the practice must be deliberate, intentionally “improving the skills you already have and extending the reach and range of those skills.”
To put it another way, you can have five years of experience in which each year builds on the skills and knowledge learned the previous year. Or you can have five years of experience in which you simply continue to repeat what you learned the first year, without any additional growth. Five years of experience or one year repeated five times.
For several years after those findings were published, the writing community saw a proliferation of magazine articles and blog posts discuss the merits of the 10,000-hour rule. Ten-thousand is not a magic number. Still, many professionals concluded that it provided a good indication of the perseverance and tenacity of those trying to succeed in publishing.
But those 10,000 hours need to be spent doing more than just repeating the same mistakes again and again. As a writer, whether new and unpublished or experienced and multi-published, how are you growing in the mastery of your writing skills? Are you:
- Reading well-written books in your genre?
- Reading books on writing technique?
- Following blogs of professionals in the industry?
- Attending writer’s conferences?
- Participating in a critique group?
- Seeking a writing coach or mentor?
In five years — 10,000 hours from now — where will you be in your writing? Use your time wisely!
Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids. The first two books in the series are Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called.
In addition to her writing, Ava also teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.