From Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company, 2008), pps. 39-40:
The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.
“The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve that level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert–in everything,” writes neurologist Daniel Levitin. “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers [emphasis mine-admin], ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”
I’ve been writing on and off since early 2003. Six years of calling myself a writer. But as for my actual writing time? Not even close to ten thousand hours, I’ll bet. Recently I’ve been angsting about the lack of external validation of my writing (in the form of acceptances), but really. Who am I kidding? I still need to put in my time. Forget about looking for shortcuts, ways to succeed at writing without, yanno, actually writing (and rewriting and more rewriting).
I need to just write. Put in my 10,000 hours, get out my million words of… compost. 😀
Now, excuse me while I go do just that.