So my friend Karissa first exposed me to the idea that a skill or an art could only be mastered after ten thousand hours of work (Googling reveals to me this idea was recently popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers).
10,000 hours breaks down “manageably” to twenty hours a week over the course of ten years.
Certainly! my mind says to me. But you can get there faster, because you are special! You are dedicated and neurotic and are willing to devote more of your time to the cause! Or whatever.
In March, when Karissa first told me about this theory, I made myself a checklist of hours. (One box to tick for each hour I’d spend working on my writing.) I only made 150 boxes, figuring my reward for checking the first 150 would be to draw up another 150.
Today, I ticked off box #22.
I fear I am not an outlier, nor really on a very good path toward making myself into one.
I wonder if there’s anything in the world I’ve spent 10,000 hours doing. I think it’s a safe bet that reading is on that list (how could it not be?! I have no way of doing the reckoning, but it just seems unreasonable to think I haven’t wracked up 10,000 or even 20,000 or 40,000 hours over the years). So maybe I’m a master reader. But I don’t feel like a master reader. Sometimes–in fact, quite frequently–I am humbled in the act of reading. I encounter things I don’t understand, things I can’t make myself care about, things I’m unwilling to parse through or unable to digest. Surely a master reader would glide through these challenges like Kim Yuna through a spiral.
Disheartening. I’ll go back to work now.
(I spent 15 minutes writing this post–do those minutes count?)