I’ve been reading the new Malcolm Gladwell book, Outliers. He says there’s a consistent pattern to the lives of the wildly successful. They’ve each put in 10,000 hours before reaching the pinnacle of whatever they’ve reached the pinnacle of. The Beatles – 10,000 hours playing music together. Bill Gates – 10,000 hours programming. Mozart, thanks to his father, had his 10,000 in by the age of 21.
I wonder how many hours I’ve spent writing. I imagine it’s far short of 10,000. I wrote a lot in school. I chose college courses that required many lengthy papers. I have written creatively, off and on, since I was in grade school. But the off periods really add up, I suspect.
Here’s how my not writing has gone today. I have a theoretical Monday, one that works in the computer model. On my hypothetical Monday, I send my daughter off to Jr. High, drive my son to grade school, and report in for a three hour shift at work, getting off at noon. I then come home, eat lunch, and have an hour all to myself to use for writing (real writing, the kind that requires me to concentrate and can’t be done with the kids in the house) before doing a quick chore or two and starting my afternoon drive around town picking up the kids from their schools. After that, it’s dinner and back in to work for another three hours while my husband is home with the kids. A somewhat hectic day, but I’ve put in one of those 10,000 hours.
My real Monday usually goes more like today. The schools are out for a snow day. My husband stays home while I work in the morning. I come home & he goes to work. My daughter announces that I need to drive her to a friend’s house at 1:00. After my son and I drop her off, he realizes it’s almost Christmas and he hasn’t bought anything for anyone. I pause to appreciate having a generous kid before pouting over how I’m not at home writing. I take him shopping at WalGreen. We come home and I have to help him find the wrapping paper, scissors, gift tags, tape, etc. so he can wrap the gifts himself. Almost time to go pick up my daughter again before cooking dinner, and rushing back off to work. Not enough time for me to get into any deep writing, but I can hammer out a blog post.
Getting in my 10,000 hours 15 minutes at a time. And no, I don’t want to know how long it will take to get there. I have no intention of doing the math.