Malcolm Gladwell, in his 2008 book Outliers, advances the “10,000-Hour Rule.” He asserts that to be successful in any field, it is largely a result of putting in a requisite amount of time practicing a task and honing that skill. How much time? Ten thousand hours!
I have no idea how much time I’ve logged writing and what activities count, but I suspect I am still shy of the 10,000-hour mark.
I think I can count any type of writing I do, including blogging and keeping a journal. Revising and editing what I have written would surely apply, too. But I’m not sure about revising and editing someone else’s work—which I do quite a bit in my day job. Does attending a writing conference, lecture, or book reading count? Probably not. Lastly, as I’ve mentioned before, writers are advised to spend as much time reading as writing. Does reading count? Again, I think not, even though it does serve to aid in overall development.
This 10,000-hour rule likely explains why many novelists are not able to publish their first book, they are still amassing the requisite time, and their craft is not yet perfected enough to be marketable.
Though there is no way I can reconstruct a log of time spend writing, I do believe that I am nearing the 10,000-hour plateau, so I am encouraged.
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.