August 25, 2011

10,000 Clicks; 10,000 Hours

Have you heard about the "10,000 Hour Rule"?  In order to achieve expertise in a cognitively complex discipline, such as is demonstrated by pilots and surgeons and musicians and chess champions, it takes 10,000 hours of practice.  That's four hours of practice a day for ten years running.  That's a lot of practice.  Often, too, all this hard work is out of the public eye and not really all that much fun.  Intellectually complicated tasks take more than mere intelligence, they also require many hours of mind-numbing work.  In his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell constantly reinforced this theme:  that genius is not the only or even the most important ingredient for success.  I'm no genius and the jury's still out on whether or not this blog represents an "intellectually complicated task" but by the time I go to bed tonight I will have had 10,000 hits on my blog and I can tell you, with all honesty, that underneath the surface of my writing there has been a lot of good old-fashioned hard work.

A member of my writer's guild asked me how much time I spend a day writing my blog.  It was hard for me to answer this question since there are so many aspects to writing that are indefinable.  Writing is a physical manifestation of our thoughts and a truly active thought life requires a lot of grooming.  Reading.  Conversing.  Traveling.  Staying current on local, national, and global events.  Should I count all the time that I put into ensuring that my brain is in tiptop form, for a middle-aged woman?  What about all the time that I spend agonizing over just the right word choice or the obsessive-compulsive way that I check for grammar and spelling mistakes?  How about the way that I daily fritter away time trying to understand how to insert new HTML code or study ways to decrease my bounce rate?  Does that count?

When I was a kid, watching the Olympics on television every four years was a major event.  I used to love watching the figure skaters compete, still do, and as a girl I had a secret wish to be one.  They made it look so easy.  Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill put in their 10,000 hours and more, I'm confident of that, but they made it look like they had camel spun their way into the world instead of being delivered in the usual fashion.  I thought, in my innocence, that I would be able to skate gracefully out onto the ice after strapping on skates for the very first time.  As I grew and developed a little more savvy, I realized that complicated physical tasks took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.  Mountain Dew and Pepsi commercials helped me with that realization.  It was only later when I learned that the same principal applies to just about any skill in life that we hope to have.

Thanks, readers, for giving me the gift of 10,000 clicks.  I've been writing all my life but I've only had an audience just in the past four months.  Writing is a lot more fun now that I know I have a few readers.  It feels, to me, like I've strapped on a pair of literary skates and showed you how I execute my sasha spiral.  I hope that you haven't noticed what a klutz I am with the lutz.  It's better to pretend you didn't see that.  


  1. You're a good writer. Entertaining. Thought provoking. I'm not surprised you have accumulated 10,000 hits.

    That 10,000 thing is intriguing. I figure, based on family history, that I have about 192,720 hours left. Should be enough time to get good at something! Maybe even two things.

  2. the counter reads 10,000 as I type this. mozel tov on your 10k and may there be tens of k's more to come. your blog is always a treat for me and I'm glad that I found you. well, your blog anyway. I'm really not stalking you, even if I do know that today was trash day for you.

  3. Today really WAS trash day for me! How did you know? Were you the one who took our broken dehumidifier from the curb in the wee hours of the morning? Good luck getting that thing to work!

  4. Kevin, you were the guy who asked me how much time I spend writing my blog! If I remember right, I answered your question vaguely and then changed the subject. Did you know that today was trash day on my side of town? How 'bout that?


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