LB on Writing: The Rule of 10,000

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladstone

Hmm, an internet success meme that almost makes sense. Unless, of course, you take it literally:

What Is the 10000 Hour Rule?

The 10000 Hour Rule is just that. This is the idea that it takes approximately 10000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill.For instance, it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject. It would take approximately 5 years of full-time employment to become proficient in your field. Simply work out how many hours you have already achieved and calculate how many more you need to clock up before you reach 10000. (As interpreted on Squidoo.)

My experience tells me that, yes, there’s a great deal of truth in Malcolm Gladstone’s new book, Outliers. But in spite of the way various self-help websites have latched onto it, this particular Gladstonian adage, like most good advice, works on the metaphorical as opposed to the literal level.

In other words, everything I’ve done/seen/known in my shockingly long (to me) life puts me in complete agreement with the idea that practicing, practicing, practicing (for writers, writing, writing, writing) is essential for anyone to get really good – professionally good – at just about anything.

Assuming, of course, that you have talent.

‘Cuz – and I’m really sorry, boys and girls – if you don’t start with your own aptitude for something I don’t care how long and hard you work at it…it just ain’t gonna happen for you.

And that too comes from my own experience. There’s a reason I became a writer instead of a major league baseball player even though I loved chucking the ole pill around as much as I loved to write. Love wasn’t enough. Practice wasn’t enough. I lacked the innate potential.

Maybe we should change this to “The Rule of Busting Your Hump So You Can Get Even Better at Something Your Genetic Makeup Has Already Made You Good For?”

What? Oh, right. I agree. That’s definitely missing a little something. Give me 10,000 hours to work at rephrasing it and I’ll come up with something grand!

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

One thought on “LB on Writing: The Rule of 10,000”

  1. Interesting, as always, Larry of Q.M., however, I’m not sure about your “10,000 hour trip”. An athlete, perhaps, but a writer, and a creative writer, there’s no such thing as “lengths of time to succeed”. It’s either there or it isn’t. Yes, you must work at developing it — for lack of a better word — but, damn! if the story, the brush-stroke, the song in your heart, the tap in your shoe isn’t there, practice all you want… while you search for another career. Like ‘PRODUCING’.
    Sound a little harsh? Not really; in the old days they’d throw tomatoes at you. The “OLDER DAYS”, feed you to the lions. Anything for a laugh. Enjoy, gs

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