10,000 Hours

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers it takes 10,000 hours to become good at anything.  For example, The Beatles were so good because by the time they were ‘discovered’ they had practiced for 10,000 hours in strip bars in Germany away from the scrutiny of record company executives.  NHL hockey players are great because they’ve been playing and practicing (and being coached) from the time they were 5-years-old. By the time they’re playing Junior League Hockey they’ve gotten in their 10,000 hours.  Bill Gates was a programming and computer expert because he logged 10,000 hours on a computer before he was 18 years old.

If that’s all true, this blog is going to suck for the next 20 years.

But then again, perhaps my years of advertising copywriting counts against my 10,000 hours.  OK, let me add it up.

32 years in advertising. Let’s say I worked on average 48 weeks a year and approximately 40 hours a week (probably more – but that’s another story). That’s 61,440 hours.  But was I actually ‘writing’ all that time? Of course not. We have to subtract internal meetings, client meetings, going to shoots and edit sessions. And let’s not forget just sitting around dreaming up ideas.  So let’s say I was writing 15% of the time.  That’s 9,214 hours.

Let’s also factor in the time I’ve spent writing a book that I still haven’t finished. That’s another 500 hours.

There was also the outline I wrote for a Broadway musical that I dreamed up while on a TV shoot in Australia. Let’s say that was 240 hours.

There was also the time when I thought I was going to write a series of children’s books. But that only lasted about a week.  Let’s tack on another 30 hours for that.

Grand total: 9,984 hours.

But wait: How about the 15 posts I’ve already written for this series.  They took on average 1 hour each.

That raises my total to 9,999 hours.

So, if Malcolm Gladwell is correct, my next entry tomorrow will be the first entry that does totally suck. I think that’s amazing.  I’ve worked my entire career to get to this point. The point where what I’m writing doesn’t totally suck.  This is an amazing relief. You have no idea how good I’m feeling right now.  I can’t wait until tomorrow.  You never know – tomorrow you may come here and read the next great novel. And amazing piece of poetry. A screenplay that will make you laugh, cry and stand up and cheer.

Or of course, Malcolm Gladwell could be wrong.

And tomorrow may suck just as much as today.  We won’t know until tomorrow. But I have a pretty good idea.

One thought on “10,000 Hours

  1. Greg has been teasing me about getting to 10,000 hrs on Words with Friends ;-). Nice entry – there has to be some linear scale of improvement, you can’t just go from suck to great at 9,999 hrs +

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