Recently, on one of my writer’s loops, we were discussing the long path to publication and how difficult it can be to wait--especially when we live in a world focused on instant gratification. Whether it’s fast food, shopping on line (Amazon’s ‘Buy now with 1-click’ is way too easy to push), or losing weight, almost everything we do can be done with a flick of a button or a ‘magic’ pill.
We simply hate to wait.
But while we might be able to instantly upload the latest bestseller onto our ebook reader, author Mary DeMuth says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master writer, just like it does in many other professions.
Ten thousand hours might sound like a long time, but I believe she is right. Because the truth is that with anything truly worth it, there is no instant success. Writing takes hard work, sweat, and a dedication behind the scenes that the readers will never see.
In the book world, I’ve known many people who have kept writing even with one rejection after another. They have stuck with it for five, ten, even fifteen plus years before they were finally published. With today’s changes in publishing, one of the great things is that a writer doesn’t always have to wait on a publisher, but can publish a book themselves online. But even going that route still takes time, learning, and patience until the work is ready to be seen by the world.
This is a concept I’m trying to pass on to my own children. I want them to learn that it is still important to work hard in life, to sacrifice, and put in their 10,000 hours of practice. And while the concept might seem overwhelming, it's important to look at the entire process in smaller pieces.
Here are some ideas for breaking down that 10,000 hours of practice with specific goals.
1. Set a daily (and weekly) word count that is practical for you to reach. I typically plan to write 1000 words a day, five days a week. Some people will need to make a smaller goal, while others are able to write much more.
2. Read one book a month that deals with the craft of writing
3. Join a critique group (Most crit groups have monthly goals/expectations of members)
4. Read one book a month in the genre you are writing
You will be amazed at how 'quickly' your writing ability grows when you take these baby steps.
What about you? What are your writing goals. Is there something you’ve had to wait on that was worth it in the end? Something you’ve put your time and energy into that in the end paid off? I’d love to hear what you think.