Tuesday, October 29, 2013

10,000 Hours


I’ve always enjoyed music, but it’s only in the past few years that it’s become a passion. Recently, I’ve attended concerts of America, Herman’s Hermits, and The Little River Band, as well as a tribute band for The Eagles and guitar concerts held at my college. I marvel at these musicians’ fantastic talents.

At  the Glendale Community College, where I’ve worked for the past sixteen years, I’ve been able to pursue my burgeoning interest in music. I’ve taken the history of Jazz, lessons in acoustical guitar and presently, the history of Rock and Roll. Sounds like fun? You bet.

This week we started studying the Beatles. The British invasion began on February 9, 1964, when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Some people thought they were nothing more than untested young musicians in need of a haircut. But in actuality they were skilled and experienced, having spent years playing together, developing into a group of experienced professionals.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outlier: The Story of Success” explains the 10,000-hours rule, a requirement to becoming truly skilled in a cognitively demanding field. He uses the Beatles as an example of how the amount of time they spent devoted to their music brought them to such proficiency.  

When I took lessons in acoustic guitar, I pictured myself playing to crowds of cheering fans. But my fame and fortune in music will never happen outside of my imagination. Why? Because I’ve never put in the time to become proficient. I figure the entire semester struggling with the guitar accumulated about 100 hours of practice. I have 9,900 more hours to go in that 10,000 hour rule.

Music isn’t the only place where this rule can apply. What about writing? Have you ever looked at the number of hours you’ve spent to become proficient? Are you close to 10,000 hours at creating your manuscripts or did you pass that number years ago?

17 comments:

  1. Okay, Marion! I don't really know you yet, but I'm going to GET you because you made me do math! So - 21 years in my other life as a writer and figuring 8 hours a day (I really do work that long) 5 days a week for 40 weeks out of 52 for 21 years, that's 33,600 hours. In my new life as a writer, it's been about 18 months on roughly the same schedule that's another 2400 hours for a total of 36,000 hours. So - shouldn't I have a RITA by now?

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    1. Because you made me do math, I forgot to tell you how interesting this post is and how cool that you're doing all this wonderful stuff. I'm a country Western fan, myself. I did love the Beatles though, and even remember their first appearance on Ed Sullivan. I was about 19.

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    2. You'll get your Rita. I'm not even trying to add up my hours. I like country music, too. Just bought a CD by Willie Nelson.

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  2. Oh, Marian, my fingers hurt just thinking about playing guitar. I took lessons one summer and never developed callouses. Like anything else, putting in the hours is necessary, but it's also the quality of hours and your openness to grow. When I work with newer authors and explain their pages have no conflict, I can't tell you how many arguments I've had that their story doesn't need conflict. So although I love MalcomG, I'm on the side of quality of hours put in and willingness to learn. (although Muriel should get her RITA)

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    1. Thanks, Mel! Actually, as Roz says below, I think I still have a lot to learn.

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    2. I got the callouses, and they may have helped me play the guitar but they made typing a real pain. I spent more time correcting what I wrote because I didn't have much feeling in my fingertips.

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  3. Marion, unlike Muriel (who I suspect loves numbers in another life) I don't even want to add up my writing hours.I know I'm not yet proficient no matter how much time I spend writing. I think people who choose a craft of any kind are always in a learning cycle. Probably the Beatles said that. I know Bono has. Also Lionel Riche and Yo Yo Ma. I've never tried to play an instrument of any kind, but I give all who do kudos, because I love listening to music. (Muriel, the country music awards are on Nov 6th)

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    1. Thanks, Roz. Appreciate the heads-up.

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    2. You're right. We always need to keep learning. I may even turn on those country music awards and see what I've been missing.

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  4. Such an interesting post, Marion! I haven't done the math (though I imagine sooner or later it'll bug me and I'll pull out the calculator LOL) but I will say I love country music and I especially love The Beatles. I should let my kids know about the 10,000 hour rule...then ask them about homework ;)

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    1. Let me know if it works to get kids to do their homework. I'll use it on my granddaughters.

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  5. As a beginning writer, I definitely do not have those 10,000 hours! But I'm working on it :) I love the Beatles, btw. I can understand now why they were such a tremendously talented group of musicians. Thanks for this interesting post.

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    1. I never cared for the Beatles so what I'm learning is all new to me. They started so young and accomplished so much. I'm beginning to really appreciate them.

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  6. I always wanted to play the guitar and sing...I can't do either. Enjoyed your post!!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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  7. I think I probably have the hours, but am not yet proficient (focus is an ongoing problem--oh, there's a deer in the yard!) This is really interesting, though. I think one reason my husband has always been so writing-supportive is that he is a musician.

    And I think Muriel should have her RITA--maybe two.

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    1. I'd be distracted by a deer, myself. Keeping focused is always a problem for me.

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