Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule?
What is the 10,000 hour rule? How long is 10,000 hours? Have you blogged for 10,000 hours? How?
This is a “rule” that Malcom Gladwell popularized stating that approximately 10,000 hours of practice are needed to master a skill (in the simplest terms). For now I will ignore the many arguments against this rule. Instead I will focus on the fact that it basically shows that a lot of volume is needed to work towards mastery of anything.
Many circles apply this rule to athletes, pointing to the amount of hours of practice that they need to get to the elite levels of competition or expertise. Volume is not the ONLY factor that contributes towards mastery, but 10,000 hours is widely recognized as a bar that many reach for.
How Long Does That Take?
Some basic math (assuming 2 weeks vacation) showed me that if you put in 40 hours a week, you would reach this mark in 5 years.
10,000 hours / 40 hrs/week = 250 weeks
250 weeks / 50wks/year = 5 years
Is this realistic? Nope.
As a gymnast, growing up, I practiced for 3 hours a day 5-6 days a week (on average). That would put me at about 12-15 years to get to that mark of 10,000 hours.
This lines up well with high school athletes looking to compete in college. If they start young, like I did, they hit that mark just before, or during, college. I won’t go in to the various opinions on whether or not athletes should be multi-disciplinary in their younger years to round out their athletic foundation…I am focused on the raw volume for now.
Applying The Rule to Blogging
Does this mean you should blog full-time?
Why do you think the full-time bloggers are so good?
This was quite a realization for me. Largely because I’m not even close to 10,000 hours of blogging.
However, if you look at blogging as writing, then you can give yourself more credit towards that 10,000 hours. High school was hopefully a time to lay the first building blocks of your writing skills; with college giving you a serious boost towards the reps and volume you can’t avoid when honing a skill.
Let’s assume, for arguments sake, that by the time you have finished college you are at about 4,000 hours. (2 hours/day, 5days/week, for 8 years) While that is very optimistic, you still have 6,000 hours to reach the aforementioned Gladwell benchmark. Seeing as how most successful bloggers start off with a “regular” job and write on the side…let’s say you write for 4 hours per day. (That’s still a ton and probably not realistic for most)
6,000hrs / 20hrs/week = 300 weeks
300wks / 50wks/year = 6 years
6 years post college to become a “good” writer (blogger)!!!
That seems like a lot.
But it’s not. I would bet money that most successful bloggers didn’t find their success for at least that long…if not longer. I wrote about Jason Kottke not long ago and how he was running his website for 7 years before deciding to give blogging full-time a try. He has now been blogging full-time for 15 years and his blog is 22 years old.
Seth Godin…has been doing what he does for almost 30 years. He wrote his first book in 1999…his blog coming later. Talk about volume.
How to Get There
A couple years ago, I was traveling from Memphis to Portland with a connecting flight through Dallas Forth Worth. A cashier in DFW mentioned to me that I appeared to be in good shape and asked if I had any advice for him when it came to putting on muscle.
While the comment and question caught me off guard (because I was in a candy shop of all places), I assumed he was emboldened to ask because of the Crossfit shirt I was wearing.
In an instant, I thought of the thousands of hours of practice and working out I had accumulated for over 30 years. I asked myself, What one thing can I tell this random guy about my lifetime of fitness?
“Consistency man…go to the gym even when you don’t feel like it.”
I said as he handed me my receipt.
I couldn’t tell if the look he gave me said “true, true” or “that was lame” Nevertheless, it was the best piece of ‘gym advice’ I could think of as, ironically, I was walking out with a bag full of gummy bears.
I learned a lot about consistency and self-discipline from my years of gymnastics. Yet, I find I still need these reminders as I work on becoming a better writer:
- Becoming a better writer will take time…a few years by my calculations, probably more.
- There are no shortcuts…no matter how many Medium articles I read that promise me ‘5 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer’.
- Consistency is key…I have to write even when I don’t feel like it.
Now you’ve read this article and learned in 5 minutes what it took me decades to discover.
Knowing these 3 insights alone won’t guarantee your success…but they sure as hell will help.