Sunday, 14 December 2008

How long an apprenticeship should a writer serve?


The answer seems to be 10,000 hours. See this really interesting article taken from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story Of Success. He uses lots of examples including The Beatles, Bill Gates, Bobby Fisher, all extreme almost obsessive about their area of talent. So it pays off. I also listened toa radio interview with him, I think it was Radio 4 Front Row, saying it applied to creative people like musicians too so it's certain to apply to writers too, poets, novelist, playwrights, whatever.

So how many hours a week do you write? Not blogging. I don't think that counts. Creative writing or editing.

Do you go back and read your earlier work and cringe? Was it published? Is your writing getting better? Still? Or have you plateaued? Would this be a good point to get a boost to the next level? I mean a course/workshop or meeting with a mentor.

6 comments:

Susan said...

One of the most encouraging bits of advice I ever got was from an editor who told me the same thing, comparing writing to playing an instrument: "if they have to practice for years for free, why shouldn't you?".

It *did* make me feel better, and kept me going when I was getting depressed.

Pan Historia said...

By this criteria I must have paid my dues some time ago. I think there might be more to it than mere hours logged.

Liz said...

Interesting article, Emerging - some hard slogging and a certain obsessive nature seem to be the winning combo...
I try to write for between 30 mins and an hour a day. I am neglectful of revising. I must be on a plateau. I need a boost.

BarbaraS said...

Practice and lots of it. I see the same in my kids: it's the ones who keep doing the do that go further.

Totalfeckineejit said...

With a haircut like that Yer man must know what he's talking about!
Be the head 'o' him he could only ever be a scientist /mathematician/mad professor/singing partner with Paul Simon.I suppose he's right-
practice makes perfecto n'est ce pas, so it's just 3 hours writing per day for the next ten years?Doesn't sound so bad if you say it quickly.The thing about being a poet though is that you're not just a writer when you sit down and write,I wonder do all those eternal hours of thoughts,ideas dreams ,and sleepless nights all count? Sure the cement mixer is never switched off.

Women Rule Writer said...

A lifelong apprenticeship. You learn so much from year to year, I find. Having a book out doesn't mean you have arrived, either. It's just a part of the journey. A welcome part, of course, but only a part.
Writers' antennae need to be, and usually always are, up.