If you want to be a writer, you have to write.
A published author told me this. (I wish I could remember her name.) Profound, huh? Though it sounds obvious, there is an underlying shard of truth. I have had a strong tendency to dream about being a writer and read about being a writer, but when it comes to hauling my carcass out of bed at 5:00 a.m. so that I can actually get down to the grueling business of actually writing -- that has only been happening consistently for a short time.
Starting this blog last year was a good decision. It has provided me with accountability and communication. I have a plastic storage container in my basement full of partially used journals that no one but me has ever read. That kind of writing is a dead end for me. Perhaps I lack the self discipline to be my own critic for years on end; I must communicate! Blogging offers that crucial feedback so necessary to fuel my fledgling writer-self.
It takes a lot of fuel, faith and feedback to become truly great at anything. Yes, anything! Maybe you have no desire to be a writer or read through the Great Books, maybe you want to be a superb violinist, or architect or a lion tamer. May I share a secret with you? (I just learned this -- it's SO exciting!) The following is a quote from neurologist Daniel Levitin -- this comes from Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book, Outliers:
Ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert -- in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.
Daniel Levitin goes on to say,
Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.
...the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.
What skill do you dream of mastering? Are you willing to restructure you life for the next ten years or so to make this happen?