Roman Sturgis Take care of each other and make good decisions.

March 30, 2009

10,000 hours

Filed under: Blog — Roman @ 12:22 am

In Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Outliers, the conversation begins with the 10,000 hour rule, which is generally agreed upon to be the number of hours one must spend practicing something in order to achieve “expert” status. It’s not quite that simple, but that’s the idea of the thing. He cites early Silicon Valley folks, like Bill Gates and Bill Joy (founder of the internet), and talks about young Mozart and the Beatles in Hamburg, where they played 270 shows in an 18 month period. “By 1964 they had performed live an estimated twelve hundred times. Do you know how extraordinary that is?” (Gladwell, page 50).

So of course, I start doing the math on my fiction. I’m not going to tell you what my rough calculation is, but I will say it’s not quite 10,000 hours. What is 10,000 hours?

Last night, while I was up at my computer, sleepless, in part because of the 10,000 hours thing, I started listening to rough audio files I have from Asia, which hadn’t yet been cataloged. I came across an interview I did with an emerging bboy in Hong Kong named Kid Kong. He seemed very intense, and I was wowed at the time when he claimed that he practices “one to one and a half hours every day.” That’s pretty good, I remember thinking, to have that discipline while still high school age.

I did some math. Practicing “one to one and half hours a day” takes 17-18 years to level up to “expert”.

I think about the days I’ve had 2-4 hours to write, and those rare all-day events. I pad my hours with teaching, as I convince myself this is part of “writing” and then I try to pad some “reading time” as research and reading for style points. And still I don’t think I’m at 10,000 hours.

Aside: 10,000 hours is five years of 40 hours a week with two weeks of vacation a year. You’re telling me it’s going to take FIVE YEARS to become an expert in HVAC? Are you kidding me?

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress