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Writers and the 10,000 Hour Principle

Updated on October 8, 2014

Credit Where Credit Is Due

On my bookshelf is the third non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell titled “Outliers.” Unlike many books on my shelf, this one has no dust on it. It does, however, have many dog ears, thanks to the fact that I am constantly picking it up, reading a section, folding the page corner for future reference, and then placing the book back on the shelf.

It is worn out for sure.

But it is as relevant today as it was in 2008 when I first read it.

And the message is as relevant today as it was when passed down from masters to apprentices thousands of years ago.

You have to work at your craft!

You have to pay your dues!

You have to strive for success!

In his book, Gladwell takes a look at the factors that lead to high levels of success, and one such factor is the “10,000-Hour Rule,” meaning that a key to success, in any field, is a matter of practicing a task for that amount of hours.

8,000 hours at this desk
8,000 hours at this desk | Source

Where Am I Right Now?

"The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand."
Vince Lombardi

Well, as best as I can tell, I am currently hovering around 8,000 hours. Sometime during the summer of 2015, I will hit the 10,000 hour mark, and that means, of course, that I will then be a successful writer.

Maybe!

Now, I say “maybe” because that whole “key to success” statement of Gladwell’s is a bit nebulous. What does success mean to a writer? For that matter, what does success mean for a weaver, an accountant, a teacher or a mechanic?

Some rather famous writers blew past ten-thousand hours without finding success. Some wrote for thirty-thousand, forty-thousand, and fifty-thousand hours, and still success eluded them. Some died without ever embracing that fickle wench, only to have her grace them with her presence after they were buried among the tombstones.

But I digress! Part of the problem, then, is in defining success.

The other murky part of the “10,000-Hour Rule” is in the “practicing a task” suggestion. What, exactly, does it mean to “practice a task” if you are a writer? If you simply sit down for five hours and write randomly, is that not practicing? But are you improving enough to reach the “master” level after ten-thousand hours, or does practicing need to be a bit more involved?

That’s the rub, ‘eh?

Excellence requires attention to detail
Excellence requires attention to detail | Source

Put Me In, Coach

When I was a young tyke, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. Big dreams, little kid, standard stuff for sure….except that I was raised by a man who understood the true meaning of Gladwell’s principle before Gladwell even wrote it.

When I was eight or nine years old, I told my dad I was going to be a pro, and like a good father, he told me that was wonderful, and patted me on the head, and then he threw me a curveball in words. He asked me what I was going to do to achieve that goal.

I told him I was going to go out and play catch with my friend.

He said wonderful.

Next week, same conversation, same question, same answer, and the week after that it was repeated.

Finally, after three weeks, my dad mentioned to me that it took more than playing catch to become a professional baseball player. He said I needed to learn how to paint the corners with my fastball. I needed to learn a pickoff move, and how to throw a curveball. He told me I needed to master changing speeds, and he suggested that I study some of the great pitchers of that time and learn from them.

Suddenly, becoming a major league baseball player didn’t seem so easy.

But my father was correct, and now I pass on his message to you, my writing friends.

It’s Not About Just Putting in the Time

Simply writing for ten-thousand hours does not make a person a great writer. It simply means that writer has the ability to sit for long periods of time writing nouns and verbs. Without a doubt, a writer will improve over that period, but will he/she master the craft? Certainly not!

To master the craft of writing, one must learn from the masters. One must practice using metaphors and similes. One must work on tone, pace, rhythm, and voice. One must delve into the finer nuances of writing, and when one has experienced a bit of skill in doing these things, one must then work harder.

I recently wrote an article about writing evil characters. I shared a portion of my latest novel, Shadows Kill, and in that article I described some rather horrific scenes of torture and murder. Do I enjoy writing such things? Certainly not; in fact, I would go as far as saying that I am repulsed while writing them, and that is exactly the reason why I do it. I do not believe I will grow as a writer unless I leave my comfort zone and stretch my limits.

You see, I can write an article like this one in about an hour. It requires very little thought or effort on my part. I was, after all, a teacher in my former life, and sharing information like this does not test me at all. However, when I am called upon to enter the mind of a serial killer, and to think like that monster, I am truly tested, and from that testing comes growth.

So, how about you?

Do you feel you are growing as a writer?

See results

What Are You Doing to Grow?

Yes, I do believe that simply practicing will make one a better writer, but I also firmly believe that practicing with a purpose is the only way one can master the craft of writing.

So, how are you practicing with a purpose?

Maybe all you want is to rack up some views and make some passive income. That’s great, and I really mean it. Add those capsules, share some original photographs, toss in a poll and a few links, and call it an article. Grab those extra dollars at the end of the month and buy yourself something nice with your extra income.

But….

If your goal is a bit loftier…..if you actually want to master this craft of writing….then I suggest to you that you need to practice with a purpose.

Work on your voice. Work on your tone. Work on your rhythm and metaphors, similes and analogies. Learn how to paint those corners with your fastball, and learn how to change speeds with your curveball. Read Hemingway and Steinbeck, Lee and Shakespeare, and learn from their masterful use of the language, just as I learned about pitching from watching Kofax, Gibson, Ford and Spahn.

And when you have done all that, when you have practiced for ten-thousand hours with a purpose, then you can sit down, pat yourself on the back, and know firsthand what Gladwell was speaking about with his principle.

My hour is up. Only 1,999 more to go.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Definitely agree it shouldn't totally be based on quantity, but quality, too. I think it is a great mix of both, but that is just my two cents. In any event, great advice here, Bill and definitely appreciated and enjoyed your take on this. Happy Wednesday!! :)

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      I have a lot of work still left to do. I've only been practicing with a purpose for a short time. Even so, I found this to be very motivational. Thanks.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you as always, Janine. I can always count on you, my friend. Have a great Hump Day!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad to hear it, Pawpaw....another hour to add to your total....keep working my friend, and thank you.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 2 years ago from Arizona

      When I was at the peak of local popularity many years ago someone asked me how much do you need to feel successful as I was so driven..and the question as you well put---what success is to one it is not to another. We do all have our barometers of what success is in life. However, 10,000 hours is a lot of hours and look at how different things are for you since you started on HubPages. Published books, tons of writing and lots of new opportunities that you keep creating.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, you bring up a great point....using hindsight to see progress. It is so easy to not see how far we have come. Thank you for mentioning that, and have one heck of a Wednesday.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan

      Writing as a profession is very difficult. It's not like other careers where you get a raise or a bonus if you are doing well. In fact, you can be a very good writer and get very little attaboys. The fulfillment comes from within..IMHO.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country

      I agree with the rule, too. My high school English teacher, who was also a successful free-lancer and newspaper columnist, always said that you had to write a million words of garbage before you could write anything worth selling.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Oh Bill, this is such a perfect essay on the subject of PRACTICE...it is a vicarious thrill I get from the universal words that Jo Goldsmith has selected in her Good Words project when I see fabulous writers such as you...writing your own perspective on values that we all truly experience in some way in our lives...

      Thank you for my daily inspiration today. Love you, Maria

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 2 years ago from Jamaica

      I have my own formula that has worked so far. Repetition, Intensity and improvising. These are my strategy. The 10,000 hour rule does work because it is only natural to get better over time. However, as stated it can be inefficient. Great and insightful article.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Bill, when one looks at it from that perspective it is daunting. But as you say we must stretch our wings, delve into the unknown and uncomfortable to learn. One story I worked on took a lot of time and I felt good about the progress. Then I let a coworker read it and was asked if I was trying to make an R rated story PG-13. It took a bit to grasp but I understood: one has to go where the story goes. Be it into an area we are comfortable or not. As usual you inspire me. Time to get back to work and create! Thanks my good friend. Take care and blessings to you and Bev.

      Mike

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      10,000 hours Bill, I better start keeping count...pity there isn't some device like a pedometer to measure the number of words you write :)

      I think the best way to judge your progress is of course to compare your latest works with your earliest and see if there is much difference. Another great article.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It does indeed, Brie, and that may partially explain why so many writer-wannabies fall by the wayside....this is a tough way to make a living. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rochelle, I agree with your teacher. I know I must be approaching that million word of garbage level. :) Thank you for the encouragement this morning.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, you are very welcome, and thank you for your enthusiasm and positive outlook about life....I always feel better after hearing from you...so thank you for that gift.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Rasta...I like your formula as well.....especially intensity.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey, Mike, good to see you. I love what the coworker said...maybe not subtle but definitely to the point. Through the eyes of strangers we will see the true...or something like that. :) Thanks for the visit, buddy, and Happy Fall to you.

      Blessings to you, your wife, and family

      bill

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      So true, you have put it so well -

      You have to work at your craft!

      You have to pay your dues!

      You have to strive for success!

      Great write.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you John! I think if one could invent that device, one would make much more money than from writing. :) Have a great evening my friend.

    • profile image

      Vickiw 2 years ago

      Bill, I need some practice on keeping up with your profound take on things!

      Enjoyed this very much, and it really does make you think of the wisdom required in active practising of a craft before you actually get good at it. No matter what it is, it really is only practice that helps you move towards perfection.

      If anyone exemplifies this, it's you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All true, Vellur, and realizing those things is a giant step towards success. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vicki, good to see you my friend, and thank you for the kind words. Now, back to practicing. :)

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      I am also a Malcolm Gladwell fan. How cool is that? And I think your article does perfect justice for the message he presents. I find that even when I am not in front of a keyboard or writing pad, I am still thinking about that next poem, next story...Does one get credit hours for just thinking? I have been reading poetry by Billy Collins. I find that I am learning lots from doing so. Smiles. Great work as always.

      Kim

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Ah Bill, always the challenger. I have your ideas and comments in my head a lot, and what have I done with them? Nothing of any significance. As I am not retired, I have to work and I tell myself I don't have enough time to put in more hours writing. And it's true I don't have huge blocks of time to write consistently, but I have been writing more often. The thing is I am taking longer to write articles because I want them better than before. I am trying to finish one in particular. I am fine tuning what I already have. And research has been the most painstaking. But I am feeling very good about the quality. I find it hard to pump out quality stuff (most of the time, depending on the subject matter) in one afternoon. All this to say, dear Bill, your neat and tidy desk puts me to shame (wink).

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kim, I actually believe we do get credit for thinking about writing. My pre-write work is done during quiet moments when I let my creative mind roam free, and I think of new ways to write old things. :)

      Any friend of Gladwell is a friend of mine. Thank you, Kim!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lori, I am thrilled that you are taking the time to make your article better...it will show in the article, I'm sure. I wish more people would consider that...quality and not quantity. Carry on my friend, and who really cares about a neat desk, anyway? :)

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Great article, Bill. Thanks for the challenge. I'm involved in a writing competition right now called the NYC MIDNIGHT flash fiction challenge. It's very involved and I'm learning a lot. Here a in case you want to read about it. http://www.nycmidnight.com/competitions/ffc/about....

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      10,000 hours...seems like such an incredibly long time! I hope we not only get credit for "thinking" about writing, but also for reading other peoples' works. I'm hoping to learn through osmosis!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Cam. I'll take a look at it. I love that you are taking the challenge...a sign of growth for sure.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good plan, Melissa. LOL Let me know how that's working for you. :) Thanks for the chuckle this morning.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thinking about writing is important and necessary, but I'm afraid it doesn't really count. I can think about making dinner all day long, but if I don't actually do it, everyone goes hungry.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I have absolutely no idea how many hours I've spent writing during the last 4 and a bit years on hubpages. I do know that I've improved and that I'm far more comfortable stretching the boundaries and trying the challenges, the different genres and finding a voice.

      It does take time and it does take effort but I love the feeling I get when I've written something I'm proud of, something I'm happy with. It's even better when someone praises me for it!

      I've shared this as everyone should read it. It applies to life of course, as well as writing, and I hope many others benefit from your advice as we hubbers do.

      Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, bill!

      Ann

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 2 years ago from USA

      This is very inspiring - definitely just putting in the time is not enough, even though that helps. You have to target the practice to learn the craft - whatever it is.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      As a musician, I always believed that practice makes perfect. Now, however, that I am older and my hands don't work as well on the keys as they used to, I sing a different tune. Now, practice makes persistent! As I persist in writing each day, I am becoming more used to the idea of being a writer, and I feel that I am able to share more of myself and my view of the world than I did before. Perhaps, then, success is measured in how much of ourselves we are able to share, and how that makes a difference in the lives of others.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      You mean one can make it one article in one hour and the rest 1999 hours you have. Imagine 1999 hubs in that much of time!!!!! Can it be a world record? Very thrilling to imagine, if it goes that way.

      Anyway, this is a very great hub like those all your other ones. Very inspirational one.

      I do not need any other great people cited by you. You are my inspiration and I am confident I can learn much from you.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I enjoyed the video, but it's your conviction that drives it home. We sense your love for the craft, and your enthusiasm to succeed, and that pushes us. I'm sure there will be things you will learn and grow from, but in my humble opinion - you've already succeeded. Thanks for all you do.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile image

      Thomas Byers 2 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Billybuc I missed this one when you first did it but its very true. I see so many people with 10 - 30 Hubs freaking out because they don't have any traffic and they are not making any money. They should read this Hub Page. I started on the internet way back in 1996. I've had my good days and my bad days and I was one of the first Bloggers to ever make over $1000 a day on a consistent day in day out basis. But you know what when I read your Hub Pages I still learn things. So I know everyone should be reading them. You do great work. This should be a Hub of the day.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing the 10,000 hour principle which is new to me. You are so thoughtful in sharing all these useful concepts. As for writing outside my comfort zone, you stomped me there--something else to practice. I join your other readers in registering my appreciation for the many ways you keep helping us.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Rochelle! I don't know if I ever actually think about writing. My subconscious tends to write while I'm doing other things.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Ann. The only reason I have some inkling about the number of hours is because I know exactly when I started, and approximately how many hours I work daily...for me it was pretty easy to calculate. Not so for people like you who have a life. LOL

      My Wednesday is fine so far. I hope yours is as well.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Millionaire, and obviously I agree with you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Denise, great reflections. I think success is individually defined and measured, but I love your definition. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, you are too kind my friend, but thank you. 1,999 hubs....I'll have to consider that. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, thank you very much. In my own mind, I am light years away from success, but at least I can see progress made.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      crazyhorseghost, what a very kind thing for you to say. Thank you. I see the same people freaking out and I can't imagine what reality they live in. We have to put in our time and work...that is how it's always been and always will be. There are few overnight successes in any line of work.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, you lead by example. What a great hub. Thank you for encouraging us to try a little harder, reach a little further, do whatever it is that we love with passion.

    • Author Cheryl profile image

      Cheryl 2 years ago

      I have been publishing my work since the late 9o's or so. Almost 14 years later it has paid off. I am sure I have well passed that 10,000 hours. I believe that writing is a gift or talent and I don't think everyone is equipped with what it takes to captivate and audience which is the main source of becoming a successful writer. I have a series I wrote about a woman serial killer and unlike you enjoyed killing my victims lol. You have to have a love and passion about what you are trying to pass off to your audience. I also believe a good writer should be able to write in many genres not just one. I just want to mention my thoughts about sharing your work. Any author who is writing a book that wants to share their work on social media is really doing an injustice to themselves. If they can read your work they don't have to buy it and God knows marketing yourself as a writer is hard enough without spilling the beans about even an ounce of your story. But that is just my opinion. Many hours go into the production of a book. I wish for everyone to be a successful writer and yes practice makes perfect. Voted up on this hub. Very well written.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, it really is my pleasure. If I'm helping other writers, then fantastic. Thank you for your kindness and support.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I just want us all to succeed, so I pass these items along in hopes that it helps in some way. Thank you for your kind words.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Author Cheryl, thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate them greatly, and I hear what you are saying about sharing the work. I will give that consideration.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 2 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I think you have more than 'grown' in your writing career, Billy, even if you have yet to reach the 10,000 hours. Now, more importantly, whatever happened to becoming a professional baseball player! :)

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Well said, of course. I'll focus on your point of having specific goals to achieve as you put in the time. Repeating the same things for 10,000 is not going to make you better. Putting in the time, to achieve an overall set of skills within a meaningful, fully developed set of goals, has a real chance. And, set set of goals will vary from person to person. Thanks for sharing Gladwell. Always worthy! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wednesday-Elf, that made me laugh. That dream went the way of a torn shoulder. Sigh!

      Oh well, I'm just throwing strikes with my computer these days.

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 2 years ago

      I agree with you that becoming a better writer requires a lot of practice. How many hours that takes depends on how fast you learn and implement the new skills. But I'd also add that in order to become a better writer, the person should spend 10000+ reading before they even attempt spending that time writing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Bill, and I agree with everything that you wrote. Right on my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, you just mentioned the unappreciated skill every writer should have...reading. Of course, the ten-thousand hour mark is subjective, but the principle itself is right on. Without practicing with a purpose, one will never truly gain skill in any endeavor. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 2 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      I've never kept up with the hours, though I think I should. I like the tip about learning from the masters. For me, I think perhaps it is time for a return to something a little more deep than the how to and crafting articles I've been doing. Sure, they are fun and therapeutic even for me, but while I think I have learned much from them about formatting and making a pretty page, I miss the meat of deeper topics. I've told myself it isn't worth my time to do such as no one is interested. That may be true about the won't get a lot of views, but to keep growing I think it's going to be required. I'm taking from this article a sense of return to the basics that called me in the first place and just keep hitting. :). Somehow, I often get a sense of strength from your advice and I thank you for it.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I submit to you that a purpose is important, yes, but so is a love of the art. Without it, you won't go far because you will will not want to practice with a purpose. And as far as practicing goes, I heard a pianist say one time that the only difference between an amateur and a professional was the amount of practice, so you are right on, as always.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Ok I might have a life but it's not as dedicated to writing as yours, though it's fast becoming so! Lately a few more people are taking me seriously I'm happy to say.

      This week I've learnt how to play snooker - on holiday in a vast Victorian mansion with a 'snooker room'; how amazing is that? There must be a hub in that somewhere. I seem to find hubs in the strangest places these days.

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, Ann, I think that goes without saying, although I'm glad you said it. Who in their right mind would write for ten-thousand hours if they didn't love it. :) I guess there are some, but not many. You gotta love this writing gig, or it's just a low-paying job. :) Thanks for mentioning that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I hope there is a hub about it, because I still don't have a clue what snooker is. :) I've heard of it, of course, but I wouldn't know a snooker if I tripped over one. :)

      bill

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      In this era of instant gratification, too many people are looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, not tomorrow, but right now. 10,000 hours seems like a lifetime, but writing is a craft. Before we can master our craft we must invest the time and do the apprenticeship. That's why I'm here, learning from the maestro.:). Inspiring and motivating as always. My best to you, hope all is well.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I have been blogging for over 5 years. Is that 10,00 hours? I hope so. If not, I will go forward. Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rhonda, selfishly, I am very glad to hear you are returning to your roots. You are at your best when you are skinning the bad guys alive. :) Whatever you decide to do, I'll follow along.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      Nice tips

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, I have nothing to add to your perfect summation. I understand wanting it all immediately, but I've also learned from those who ply their trade for years. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I honestly don't know, breakfastpop, but I suspect we will never stop learning and moving forward. Carry on my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Clive. Much-appreciated my friend.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing some more of your useful tips for writers, Bill.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Bill, this article was really encouraging. I'm so glad you included Malcolm Gladwell's interview with Anderson Cooper because he makes so excellent points: none of us accomplish anything without the help of others, and we are far too hard on ourselves and others; mastery can't be expected to happen in a short time.

    • Zainab Tarawali profile image

      Musu Bangura 2 years ago from Nation's Capital

      Couldn't agree with you more, Bill. I recently came to the realization that if I'm going to go anywhere with this writing thing, I have to get out of my comfort zone of research articles and start writing about topics that may make me cringe, but are necessary. Not just for me, but for my readers.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you always, Alicia!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Iris, it's amazing how many writers today expect instant success, and when they don't find it, they quit. This is a marathon, and you obviously understand that. Thank you and best wishes my friend.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true Zainab! Growth does not happen when we are too comfortable...there has to be a certain amount of "pain" involved. Good luck and thank you.

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      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      There's that old adage again, "practice makes perfect"! We can't get away from it no matter what we do.

      Funny how the school systems set students up to fail in so many ways....by starting them to early, but 'judging' them from standardized tests, its no wonder we don't know how to judge our own sense of accomplishment after years of that!

      Again sensei, you show us the way. Voted all but funny.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, that's a great analogy about the school system. We raise kids with unrealistic expectations, squash them, and then wonder why they can't carry on without loads of assistance.....anyway, thank you!

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have no idea how many hours I've written, but i kinda judge my work on how it looks today and how it looked when I first started writing four years ago, and I feel that I've improved. I look at some of the first hubs and feel pretty bad, so I do believe practice makes perfect, gotta just keep trying. The fact that I love to write is a real plus. Thank you Bill for teaching us each and everyday...

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, you are braver than I am. I cringe when I read my early work. :) Thank you as always, and I definitely think you have improved by a huge amount.

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      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Such an important message conveyed by you and that too with a wonderful example.

      'Practice makes us perfect', is so true in any work we do and that applies to writers too.

      Thanks for another wonderful motivating hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you ChitrangadaSharan...keep working and growing. It's the only way to success that I know of.

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      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Thanks Bill.

      Bradbury talks a lot like you, and I most certainly believe in practice. In fact, that's what I tell people ... practice, practice; practice ... read, read and read ...

      I don't funnily enough. But that's what I joyfully did since I was four, under the lamp posts in the Caribbean weather, at 4.a.m for most days. By the time I was eleven, I had covered all the English greats and most genres imaginable. These things kind of stay in one's psyche until a cause or purpose, forces them out.

      So yes, Bill, great ideas, application or hard work and an intuitive feel for one's craft is needed. Peace bro.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, I like the vision of you up till four a.m. reading the greats. What a great example for young writers aspiring to be great. Thank you for sharing that my friend.

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      nadia asencio 2 years ago from miami, fl

      When I think about my favorite writers - Truman Capote, David Sedaris, Shalom Auslander, Adam Resnick, Tina Fey, and Lena Dunham - I wonder if the ability to write powerful, witty, and thought-provoking stories is really something you can "learn" or if it's more of a gift? I mean, had 6-year-old Mozart really put in 10,000 hours before he wrote his first sonata? Food for thought. ;)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadia, I believe there are those who are talented beyond words, and they are born with the gift. The other 99.9% of us have to work at it. :) Thanks for your thoughts.

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      VJG 2 years ago from Texas

      Once a journalist, always a journalist. I no longer write for a newspaper. However, I've not lost the love of writing. That's why I'm here. Not just to write, but to write with a purpose and seek feedback. I believe in the belief that you must write everyday, anything - just write. Feel the flow of words. Great article.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you VJGSA, and welcome to HP. It's good to have you here and I look forward to reading your work.

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      Lea Tartanian 2 years ago

      Billy Buc. Voted up useful and awesome. Can I borrow your brain? You are incredible. It is the middle of the night can't sleep so I may as well grab my i phone and learn from your pearls of wisdom. Thank you again for the extra push and encouragement. Writing is my favorite thing in the world to do. Still working on my book about the second half of life with hopefully a different spin from all the other ones out there. God bless and I also thank God for you who gives so freely and generously. Sparklea.

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      Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

      Oh how great to be back reading your work once again Billy. Great advice ( but didn't expect anything else) as always kept to the point and very interesting.

      Inspiring ; just giving that little push we all need from time to Time.

      Great work and lots of love from Wales.

      Eddy.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lea, how about I loan my brain to you on weekends when I am definitely not using it. :) I have wood to chop this weekend so it's all yours. LOL

      Thank you kind lady, and blessings to you always

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy my dear, it is always good to see you. I hope you have been well. Sending love from Olympia.

      bill

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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      So, so true! Purposeful and MINDFUL practice is the key. Otherwise, it's just going through the motions and checking off boxes. Ever watch someone who tries to learn by rote? It's almost painful. 10K hours? Check. Mastery? Um... It's similar to always using short term RAM memory on a PC. Practice for a test or task and then it all disappears.

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      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      I agree. With more writing comes more experience, and more improvement.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, as always, you speak the truth. This applies to so many things in life. Use it or lose it, my dad used to say, and you won't have it to use if you don't continually practice it. Thanks my friend and Happy Weekend to you.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That's the way it works, vkwok. Thank you, buddy!

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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent advice and as usual translates into the world at large very well. I have done nothing well in under 10,000 hours and writing perhaps the toughest of all.

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      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Practice with a purpose and knowing the things one needs to learn to master one's craft. I enjoyed reading your article and read it through to the end even the comments. Not only is it useful, it is also enjoyable to read because it is so well written.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Eric. Haven't seen much of you lately. I hope all is well.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      aesta, thank you so much. That was a lovely comment.

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      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      “One must practice using metaphors and similes. One must work on tone, pace, rhythm, and voice. One must delve into the finer nuances of writing, and when one has experienced a bit of skill in doing these things, one must then work harder.” Absolutely. Especially, “one must then work harder.” Sometimes, this skill is elusive and we think, "What am I doing?” Then, it returns to find us again in the middle of that practice, or when we are thinking and doing something else entirely. Regardless, we have to always “run through the tires,” and never give up. Great article, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Genna. I guess I'm on a mission to improve writing and improve literacy. I think we have dumbed down as a society and I refuse to accept it as the norm. :)

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      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      I have learned so much in the past two years. I have all this knowledge and am slowly putting it together as time passes. Still so many hours to go!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, I'm not sure the learning ever ends....I hope it doesn't. :) Thank you and Happy Sunday to you.

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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Everything takes time in order to become a master. What about a four-year degree? I don't think so, but it is a definite start. It is practicing that knowledge that hones the skills.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, you could have written this article, and I agree completely. Thanks!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      With respect to my writing I am definitely still paying my dues but I find more and more success (if you can call it that) from time to time. Unfortunately when I read this article I think of the bigger picture and worry about kids my daughter's age. It seems like everyone is looking for quick fame and fortune and they see this quick fame on the internet and tv. I know it's not exactly what your article is about, but it really made me think of the bigger picture when I read this.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, in a way, that is what this was about. Instant gratification is the theme of this generation...and I don't think it applies when we are talking about learning a craft like writing. Just a little wake up call by me. :) Happy Sunday my friend, and thank you.

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