10,000 Hours · 10 April 2009

In his book, The Immortal Game, David Shenk suggests that excellence in chess or any endeavor for that matter comes about when the individual practices for roughly 10,000 hours. He uses statistics and quotes to explain this mastery number. More importantly, he showed me that I still have much time to put into my craft before I become a master writer.

I am sure that Mr. Shenk did not write his book on the history of chess to tell me that I need to pay my dues to become a professional writer. I already knew that. But it is nice to get encouragement from any source. Whether it was meant as such or not.

When people tell me that they have surfed to my websites and read what I have put out for the world to read, I am encouraged. I like to know that I am being read whether I get a fan or not. In all of the flotsam and jetsam that is afloat in the ocean of cyberspace, it is nice to know that somebody took the time to see what wreckage I have added. In some cases, people just stumble upon my writing because they googled something I wrote about. Then again, that is good news too.

I know that I am a bit Polyanna-ish in regards to thinking I will make it as a writer when I have finally paid my dues. But I can not help being so. I can not help but think that I was made to write. I can not help but think that those people who have commented positively about my writing were more than just my friends and family being nice but thinking in the back of their minds that the phase would pass. I can not help but think that at least some of the hard work that I have done to become a wordsmith will count toward that 10,000 hours and I will in some measure be a successful writer. I can not help but think that I will be a professional writer, even if it means that I am being Polyanna-ish.

In the final analysis, I will probably be like Mr. Shenk when it comes to chess. I do not have the desire to put in the time to become a master of the game. But I do have the desire to become a master at writing. I have the desire to write, edit, take criticism, edit, and continue to write until I have what it takes to be that published writer. When it comes down to it, 10,000 hours is just five years of full-time work. It is not that long to somebody who is committed. And while my wife thinks that I am committable because I love to write, I am committed to my craft. More at some times more than at others. But I am committed.

I hope that Mr. Shenk is right about the 10,000 hours. For if he is, it is just a matter of time before I am recognized as a real writer. That is if the countless journals, pages of writing, and columns I have written figure into that total. If not, I suppose that I still have about 9,999 hours to go. Still, that is not too great a price for excellence.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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