The 10,000-Hours Rule: Will Time Alone Improve Your Writing?

eric bananas and papers

Many writers set goals, i.e. 1 hour or 1,000 words daily. How does your time work for you?

We’ve long heard the theory that 10,000 hours of practice is all that’s required to make you an expert in your field, whether it be illustrating, writing, or playing the violin.

But hours of practice alone isn’t enough. “Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist whose research on expertise spawned the 10,000-hour rule…[said], “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.” Focus, The Hidden Driver of Success, David Goleman. [DavidFarland.net link to http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/01/22/daniel-goleman-focus-10000-hours-myth/]

If you want to improve rather than simply put in time, says Goleman, your first essential is focused effort. The second essential is receiving feedback from an expert eye.  For writers, that means it’s near impossible to go it alone. Critique groups, classes, writing conferences . . . what feedback has been the most helpful for you?

Artwork courtesy Eric Birkin.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Debbie Nance

    WIFYR is definitely high on my list of the best resources available to writers. I’ve learned so much from the people that I’ve met by attending and helping with the conference. If you are a children’s book writer–published or not yet published, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

  2. Alison

    Good post. I’ve heard it said that practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Conferences have been helpful for me, especially WIFYR. I don’t know what I would do without my critique groups, too. I have one for novels and one for picture books. I also enjoy listening to the podcast Writing Excuses. It’s not feedback on my writing specifically, but I try to apply it.

  3. Michelle

    Sometimes when my writing stalls, I love brainstorming with my group. They can help me see what directions may or may not work.

  4. Becca Lee

    I read an article on this exact topic the other day that kind of blew my mind. It was talking about how sheer hours gets you nowhere… it’s concentrated practice that takes you into genius/mastery territory. They say most masters can’t sustain concentrated practice for longer than 4 hours a day… so that’s kind of a relief to those of us who silently guilt-trip ourselves any time we’re not writing.

    Of course, 4 hours a day is exactly how long the WIFYR Morning Workshops are. And in all the classes I’ve taken, those 4 hours a day count for 4 very focused hours of writing practice.

  5. Amy

    I know I just got the best feedback ever from my 2013 wifyr class. Yes, we still meet. You can’t put a price on lasting connections and classmates as dedicated as yourself.

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