Have I Worked My 10,000 Hours Yet?

I hope so. I’m kinda tired. I’d like to take a break.

Maybe go to Mexico and sit on the beach. I think that’s what successful writers do when you’ve reached those magic 10,000 hours. Because once you reach that 10K number, it’s easy, right? You don’t have to struggle so hard. Agents take you out for lunch and tell you how wonderful you are. You get a brownstone and a dog and get to have coffee dates with Jonathan Safran Foer. Mmm, I want a dog. You get to grab croissants with Salman Rushdie. That would be fun. I should probably read his books before I get croissants with him. Not that we have to talk about his books. We could just talk about croissants. These are good croissants, I’ll say. They put just the right amount of butter in them. And they’re really crispy and delicious, right Salman?

The 10,000 hour rule, of course, was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. The 10K rule essentially says that most cognitively difficult activities take about 10,000 hours of consistent disciplined practice to master, as long as you take breaks for chocolate milkshakes. I think that's what it says. I haven't read the book. I'm too busy working on my 10,000 hours to read the book. The part about the chocolate milkshakes is interesting but apparently chocolate is a really great way to stimulate creativity and provide the right amount of caffeine to the brain as you work hard to reach those 10,000 hours. I mean, if it’s necessary I’ll do it.   

I might only be in the 7,000s or 8,000s. Maybe even less. I’m not sure. I should have kept better track. I should have done a lot of things differently. Maybe gotten my MFA in creative writing. Maybe that adds on some extra hours. I’ve tried to devote myself to writing. I tried to tackle the 10,000 hours. I wrote after work and before work and sometimes during work. I quit my job and I went to Croatia and lived in a basement and wrote all day. I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t go out. I just wrote and listened to podcasts and ate pizza. What a fun time.

I didn’t talk to people for days. I rode my bike along the country roads and watched sunsets. Then, when I was about to lose my mind, I went to Australia. It was nice in Australia. Sunny weather. Friendly people. People weren’t as friendly in Croatia. Why are you here? they would ask. You’re not supposed to be here. I mean it was winter in Croatia, and most foreigners come in the summer, but everyone was like, Why are you even here? Anyways, I wrote and tried to reach my 10,000 hours. But I ran out of money.

Let’s break it down.

I’ve been writing seriously for let’s say twelve years. 10,000 hours divided by twelve years divided by 365 days equals 2.28 hours per day. Yeah, I haven’t been writing 2.28 hours a day, at least on my fiction. I've been doing other types of writing in my job, but the 10K rule must be in your specific field, aka fiction writing. I try to write every day but I know weeks often went by sometimes where I didn’t. It’s the hard truth. Sometimes I had to work all day at a job to make money to pay rent and I was too exhausted to write. Some weekends I didn’t write. Holidays I didn’t write. So, yeah, I don’t think I have that 10,000 hours yet. I know, sad.   

This is where regret comes in. Maybe I should have not lived in New York City, where I have to work all the time just to survive. I should have lived somewhere cheaper, where I could spend more time writing. Maybe I shouldn’t have drank so much. Why did I go out with friends and drink so much?

How did I spend my weekends? What did I do all those weekends ago? Not like I have kids. I really need to hit those 10,000 hours before I have kids, if I have kids. I don't know if I'm having kids. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. It's something we have to figure out. We have a cat. He's a lot of work. I think kids might be more work than a cat. I guess the big difference is that you can leave kids at home for long periods of time, whereas we could never do that with our cat, he needs to be around humans.

But back to the 10,000 hours rule. Malcolm says it's only a rough guideline. It might take more, it might take less. Okay, I need to get back to my writing. I have another hour to do today. At least. If only I could chain myself to my desk and not emerge until I am a master. I want to be a master. I will be a master. I am a master. That’s my affirmation: I am a master. Okay, time for that chocolate milkshake. Whatever you say, Malcolm. I want to do this right.