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Write More, Do Other Stuff Less

Article by Derek Flynn © 14 November 2017.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill is practicing for a total of around 10,000 hours. Many writers have adapted the “10,000-Hour Rule” to the act of writing. One of those is comics writer and script writer for the TV show “Lost”, Brian K Vaughan, who has some interesting thoughts on the subject.

Brian K Vaughan

“Write more, do other stuff less. That’s it. Everything else is meaningless. You can take all the classes in the world and read every book on the craft out there, but at the end of the day, writing is sorta like dieting. There are plenty of stupid fads out there and charlatans promising quick fixes, but if you want to lose weight, you have to exercise more and eat less. Period. Every writer has 10,000 pages of shit in them, and the only way your writing is going to be any good at all is to work hard and hit 10,001.

(And this isn’t just some tired cliche, I believe that’s a provable mathematical equation. I started writing five pages a day, every single day, when I began my senior year of high school. That means I hit 10,001 roughly a year after I graduated NYU, which was exactly when I pitched Y: THE LAST MAN to Vertigo. It took a lot of lousy writing to get there, but I’m glad I stuck with it. And don’t worry, if you were busy actually having a life in high school and college, it’s never too late to begin your march towards 10,001.”

In another article, “Why You Should Practice Every Day for Two Years Before You Expect to Succeed”, writer Jeff Goins discusses something similar. Except he suggests that you should share the work for two years before expecting any returns.

“I wrote every day on this blog for two years before publishing my first book. Shortly after that, I published another book, launched an online course for writers, and was able to quit my job and go full-time with a writing business. My friend Ben Hardy did the same thing, writing two new articles per week on the website Medium.com for a year straight. He had been writing online for about a year before that.

Two years of steady practice. This is what it takes. But not just any practice, the kind you do in public.

If you’re serious about your art, share it. Every day. In public. This is how you get good at your craft and how you ultimately build an audience that will want to buy your work.”

Plenty of food for thought there. Although I think there would be two very distinct schools of thought on whether or not the first 10,000 hours of work should be shared!

What do you think?



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Derek Flynn runs Writing.ie's SongBook blog, and is an Irish writer and musician. He has a Masters in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. He’s been published in a number of publications, including The Irish Times, and his fiction was featured in 'Surge', an anthology of new Irish writing published by O’ Brien Press with the aim of showcasing “the very best of the next generation of Irish authors”. Online he can be found at his writing/music blog – ‘Rant, with Occasional Music’ – and on Twitter as @derekf03