Picabo Street, the Olympic Gold medalist. I heard a sound bite from her recently, referencing the 10,000 hours that any Olympic hopeful should expect to put in, and I thought, Holy Super G!
That’s ten years.
Maybe you’ve also heard about the 10,000 hour rule, that it requires that kind of effort to master a skill. And though I know writers who haven’t put in quite that many hours before finding success, I also know many writers who would say they’d put in at least ten years in their craft—and they still have more work to do!
I’m not sure that I’ll ever master writing, but I’m working on my 10,000 hours. Still, it’s a daunting task. And I thought maybe some of you might be working on 10,000 hours as well. So here are just two of the techniques I use to rack up writing hours:
Ditch the Electronic Distractions
Back on January 1st, I resolved to cut back on social media (again). I didn’t want to give it up completely because I enjoy hearing from friends, both personal and professional. So I set limits—7 minutes a day—and I’ve been successful. Here’s why: I quit clicking on links.
Oh, my word, how I love an interesting link! I mean, I’m a writer with a dangerously high level of curiosity. I could literally spend all day, following one fascinating link after another (and honestly, I think there may have been quite a few days in 2013 when I did).
I stayed my hand on the mouse and slew my distraction dragon. You can, too. Take a good look at your electronic habits and cut back. I’ll bet your writing hours will Super G explode.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Do you think Picabo Street became an Olympic skier because she only practiced when she was in the mood? She hit the slopes, no matter what. So, too, should you schedule words on to paper if you want to get in those practice hours of writing.
But Cathy, you say, I don’t always have something to write about. And I say to you that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you schedule time to write—and write something during that time. And here’s what will happen: you will train your brain.
Schedule an hour or more, every day if you can manage it, and sit down and write something. Start a blog, try a prompt, revise that stinky under-the-bed manuscript. Work on your writing and watch your hours snowball.
The most important technique in getting 10,000 hours done is not over-complicating the process. You don’t have to win a gold medal, after all. You just have to write. And before you know it, those hours will pay off with much improved writing!
~Cathy C. Hall