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The number one rule to becoming a great writer

I have written about Malcolm Gladwell a couple times, because I am a huge fan. In his book Outliers, he argues that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in a particular field. More precisely, he writes, "An extraordinarily consistent answer in an incredible number of fields ... you need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good."


Whether or not it takes exactly 10,000 hours (a new study from Princeton doesn’t think so), let’s assume that’s how long it would take us to go from suck to Shakespeare.

So, popping out our pocket calculators we say, “G** d***! That’s 28 hours per day for a year.”

A bit ambitious of us to assume we could transform our writing by trying our darndest for a year, but hey, we’re ambitious people.

Redoing the math to five years, the magic of Texas Instruments tells us writing mastery requires five hours per day. I don’t know your schedule, but five  hours of focused practice for five years is a long time for someone working a full-time job. For me to get five hours of solid writing practice, I would need to read less (impossible), wake up early (impossibler), and stop watching Game of Thrones (impossiblest).

So, how about 10 years? About three hours. Warmer.

15 years? About two hours. Warmer.

20 years? About one and a half hours. Disco.

The number one rule is to write for 20 years?
No. The number one rule to being a great writer is to never stop writing.

That’s it. Not that climactic, huh. Pretty intuitive, right? So why do we keep stopping before we become great? Probably because we studied English in school, instead of math. But now that you know, don't stop. Ever. Because eventually the hours add up, and each hour gets you one closer.
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