Ten Thousand Hours


Three to five hours a day, seven days a week, for ten years. Ten thousand hours. A million words. Any way you slice it, the road to becoming a serious writer is not done overnight. Even those overnight sensations that hit gold on their first trip to the transom have the inevitable task of answering: What’s Next?

And so being a writer–a serious, long-term writer-equates to accepting the task of a life-long marathon. And it is a marathon. There are days when you feel like you’ve got it all figured out, licked. You’ve broken success down to a formula. Write Plot A, insert Characters B and C, mix it all up and you have a best seller. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it (and sometimes I think they are).

But then you have those days when you don’t want to even look at your manuscript or your blank computer screen with that flashing curser that keeps cursing at you. In both cases, you have to remember: just as there are easy straightaways and killer climbs in a marathon, so goes the life of a writer. As my daddy used to say: Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.

But take consolation that writing is not alone in requiring a sacrifice of ten thousand hours. Think of any art: painting, sculpture, dance, even something like archery (which I also consider an art form!). All of them require the ten thousand hour commitment. You might get lucky and score big before then, but that doesn’t preclude you continuing on your marathon run just because someone gave you a cup of cold water.

Run on! I’ll see you at the finish line.

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