Saturday, January 27, 2007

10,000 Hours of Practice

A la Bernita: This is The French Spy; or The Fall of Algiers, by J. T. Haines.

I read today (and in many places over the years) that it takes twenty hours a week for ten years to achieve mastery at an art such as music or athletics or writing. Or 10,000 hours, they said.

Someone else famous said that it takes a million words before ... I forget what before. You know, something good.

I'm sure as heck glad I learned this tidbit when I was over halfway through. No wonder writers get discouraged!


Er, sorry. The Big N. I meant to start it three weeks ago, but then a novella took me longer than expected. And then this little short story just wouldn't quit. I swear. It was supposed to be 4,000 words, and it's now a mini-novella of 16,000 words. At that, I was like, no more! I gotta get to my Big N!

But now Publisher X needs short stories and novellas. I feel guilty, because they saved me financially last year. Not to mention, their success is tied with my success, and they are my fallback for when we need money. (You don't think I have this work ethic for nothing, right? 200,000 words in five months is just pure desperation talking.) So I'm writing an email and thinking, why bother with the two weeks of the Big N I promised myself? Why not just jump into the stories and get them done with? Then concentrate on the Big N?


It's been my experience in life that then never happens. And no matter how overwhelmed and impossible a task feels, it will get done, nibble by nibble.

I'm telling you all now--so I'll feel too hypocritical to capitulate--that the next two weeks are reserved for the Big N. This is my dream, and I'm going to write it. I'm excited. I can't wait. (Enthusiasm isn't sounding realistic yet, is it?)

Okay, louder.

I am excited! I can't wait!

I've been mulling this story over *constantly* for the past two months. I need to write it now before I forget half the stuff, and before it goes stale.

And I can't wait, truly. I love my characters. It's time to write a novel, damnit. So. Next two weeks. No matter what. Novel. Nothing else. Period.

4 bonus scribbles:

Erik Ivan James 1/28/2007 08:14:00 AM  

"It has been my experience in life that 'then' never happens."

So true, Spyscribbler, so true. A vey successful and contented man once said to me, "Always follow your gut...because your gut has more capacity than your head." I've found that to be true too.

Bernita 1/28/2007 09:25:00 AM  

Yes, I think you have to write it as you say - before you forget the neat stuff and it goes stale.
Jam today.

lainey bancroft 1/28/2007 10:36:00 AM  

Hi, Spy,
If you can take 4000 words and dash toward 16000, just think how quickly your Big N will grow once you begin!

Congratulations! Deciding to make 'then' right now will get the job done. I'll bet once you get started nothing will pull you away.

spyscribbler 1/28/2007 10:36:00 PM  

Thank you so much, guys! You're right. I'm sorry for the whine. I should be grateful. Somedays I'm looking at the grass over the fence so much that I forget I've got some pretty grass under my feet, too.

I have two weeks, it's official! I think I'm going to have to take a six week break after the two weeks, but ... I'm going to write my ass off these two weeks!