Write Before Thinking



After spending much of the last month in an uninspired purgatory void of any and all good ideas, I finally managed to drift upon the one sentence that triggered the thoughts that would allow me to write Chapter 21 of Wreck My Life.

“I wonder if she knew it was coming?”

It took me a month of procrastination and false starts to finally arrive at that simple sentence. But this isn’t any old sentence. It’s not one that can just sit back and relax on the page. It’s got work to do, because it’s this simple question asked by Will that gets the chapter moving. It’s the spark. And it was this damn spark that took me multiple hours to find.

So where am I going with this? Nowhere, I’m just using this story as a jumping off point for telling you about something I read that I found to be interesting.

Did you know that no one is a “natural” at anything? Sure, an individual may be blessed with the physical and mental abilities that allow him to excel at playing the cello, solve complex math problems, or hit a fastball, but these traits will only take him so far.

So what makes him the best?

Practice. Loads and loads of practice.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he touches upon what researchers call the 10,000 hour rule. In essence, what researchers believe is that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice of at least 10,000 hours. To put that number into context that’s practicing something 40 hours a week, every week for almost five years. That’s a long friggen time.

Then again when you think about it, all the great ones – the Jordans, the Gates, and the Yo-Yo Mas – all committed themselves to their pursuits with single-minded devotion. Do you think any of them skated by on God-given abilities alone? Of course not. They worked their asses off.

Now think about what it is you want to excel at and ask yourself a simple question: are you putting in the practice time to reach that magic number.

I know I’ve got a few hours to go…


Filed under: Trailer Trash, Why I Write, , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. WeightLoss says:

    Outliers is a great book. The problem is Gladwell leaves little room for critical thinking by interlacing his opinion and ideas throughout the book. I like to form my own thoughts based on presented research. But I think for the target this was a great book.

    I’m currently working on my 10k hours of writing to hopefully get better at it.


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