I recently blogged about the 10,000-hour rule, which postulates that it takes 10,000 hours to master any craft, including writing.
In parallel fashion, I recently read a post by Kaye Dacus, who wrote, “I’ve heard it said that no one can consider himself a “real” writer until he has written at least one million words.”
A million words seems like an insurmountable goal, yet doing some quick math, I have surpassed that mark:
- blogging: 1500 posts about 300,000 words,
- five book and book-length works: 200,000 words,
- several hundred articles: 500,000 words,
- technical writing: perhaps 50,000 words,
- business writing: another 100,000 words or more,
- freelance writing: 100,000 and counting
- other writing: even more words, too many to reconstruct!
One million words divided by 10,000 hours, results in 100 words per hour. That was about my rate as I completed my last dissertation, but my typical pace approaches 500 words an hour. And when I’m really in the zone, I’ve clocked out at over 1,000 words an hour—granted I can’t sustain that speed for much more than an hour, but it’s fun while it lasts.
Although penning one million words or logging 10,000 hours may not guarantee success, I do think we need to put in the time and effort to hone our craft. And regardless if you are close to hitting these marks or just starting out, remember that each minute spent writing and every word typed brings you one step closer to becoming an accomplished writer.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.