Snapshots of a… Crazy Kinda Life

The Misadventures of Messie Jessie

The Mastery of Writing and Teeth Brushing February 24, 2016

Malcolm Gladwell (*nerd girl swoon) wrote about the 10,000 Hour Rule in his book Outliers. Basically, the 10,000 Hour Rule claims that if you spend 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at something — anything — you will have achieved mastery of that skill. Even if you totally suck at whatever that skill is, after 10,000 hours you will become an expert.

outliers book

Yesterday when I published my last post, I was super nervous before hitting the “publish” button. So nervous in fact, that I almost didn’t publish it at all. I was filled with fear that the people I know would silently judge me; that people I respect would think my ideas and writing skills were crap. I was not sure if I was okay with making myself vulnerable in that way.

But then I thought to myself, “come on now, girl. You can’t seriously have spent the time to finally write something after THREE AND A HALF YEARS of silence on this blog, only to trash it?” I was right, I could not.

Later that night, I got to thinking about all the writers and bloggers I admire, and how I (in no way) measure up to them. I realized I am jealous that they can nail a piece of work, seemingly right from the start. How do they produce such amazing content, every darn time?

Oh, yeah. The 10,0000 Hour Rule.

I realized that, my favs, they too produce their share of crap. I just never see it. I only read the 10,000th hour delights.

Then I started to wonder – “so what exactly AM I an expert at? What have I spent 10,000 hours practicing?”

If you think of 10,000 hours in terms of working a 40-hour a week job, that breaks down to 4 years and 11 months of deliberate practice.10000 hours 2

What skills have I spent almost 5 years of full time work practicing? Here’s what I came up with (minus the obvious facets of being alive, such as sleeping, breathing, cellular mitosis, etc.):

  1. My actual job
  2. Typing on a keyboard
  3. Watching TV
  4. Responding to emails


But seriously, according to this rule, I haven’t even yet mastered brushing my teeth (by my calculations, I’ve only spent 4 years and 6 months on that particular skill).

Confession: I did originally have on that list “the act of writing”, because I have physically written a lot of stuff in my lifetime. We all have. But I took it off because I cannot say I have spent 10,000 hours crafting writing – which brings me back to my point.

I cannot worry about crafting the perfect work every darn time. I just have not spent enough time working on it yet. Which is why I am doing exactly that right now.

By my calculations, I’ve only got 8,436 hours left. Roughly.


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