Monday, February 20, 2012

Being Masterful At Something

In order to be masterful at something, you must spend a certain amount of time doing it. My brother and I have discussed it more than a couple of times. Apparently there are experts somewhere that say it takes 10,000 hours doing a particular thing to reach that level where you are a master of something.

I've pondered it a lot lately. Just going over the numbers in my head.

I figure I'll spend at least 200 days just writing this year to meet my goal. I calculate that's something like 1600 hours spent just making text. I'm probably being brutal to not consider the writing I've done since the summer following the 3rd grade when I really started to write. I fell in love with the craft within the confines of a program at the University of Idaho, back when people thought I might be gifted in some way.

I filled up an unknowable number of composition books with my (at the time) indecipherable handwriting in middle and high school. As far as I'm concerned, none of it counts because I don't know where any of it is. Those composition books are probably lost somewhere in my parent's house, or more likely, a landfill.

I can build my vocabulary, read the works of others, attend writing workshops, and similar but none of that logs time making text. None of it contributes to that mastery I so desperately crave. It makes me glad I logged my time spent writing since September 2009 and that I've kept everything I ever wrote during that time period.

Technology has really helped give me perspective. Apple's Lion operating system keeps track of every version of the documents I create and the times and dates when I did. I never regret the money I've spent on tools. Well, mostly never.

I've got roughly 29 months doing this now and probably 3700 hours spent making text in that time. That 10,000 hours seems infuriatingly far away as I creep along toward it. It's beyond maddening to think my best work won't see itself fixed in an electronic format for years. Everything I'm doing right now is, hopefully, just somewhat commercially viable practice.

Taking something seriously like this makes you think about every day you spend resting, relaxing or maintaing relationships with people. It's hard because those are hours toward the 10,000 you can't ever get back in this life. However, you can't only be the thing that you do. I've seen a lot of people I know learn that the hard way after their lives became violently lonely or they departed the good things about themselves to be what they do.

I've had my doubts about continuing to blog beyond just being a place to record the monthly numbers to provide statistical perspective. I think everyone needs a little more than that. It's foolish vanity to assume I'm any different.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Washington Post Social Reader = Evil

For those of you who still insist on using the Washington Post Social Reader on Facebook as a means to consume news - I present the following for you to consider. Yes, things like this can end up in the newsfeed of your friends, family and coworkers who currently have you subscribed.

Friends don't let friends use the WPSR!

I submit that linking the article in your status update is dumb and messy because Facebook made it that way, but at least you are in control of what people subscribed to your feed see!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 2012: Progress Report

I'm putting this up for my own benefit, so feel free to skip reading this unless the minutia of my work is interesting to you.

By the end of January I had...

... knocked out only 9 solid days of work on my novels and 45,000 words of my 1,000,000 word goal.

To give myself some perspective, I was unable to start my writing schedule until January 9th and I battled with my Credit Union and several other people I make payments every month to get my cost of living down. The time was well spent, the household will be much cheaper, about 30% less per month, to maintain financially hereafter. I was also still contributing to Master & Student, which as I write this, should go to certification pretty soon.

This is about 40,000 words less or 8 work days shy of the minimum I needed for this month.

Looking ahead...


There are 21 good workdays in February that will garner me 105,000 words if I stay consistent landing me at the 150,000 word mark. That's 17,000 words shy of where I need to be. There are only two saturdays in February where I could possibly get some extra writing in bringing me to 160,000 if I really push.


I have to travel in March for a few days, costing me two work days depending on whether I can get any work done on the road. I usually can, but I'm not going to count it until that actually happens. That leaves me with 20 good work days that I can use to add 100,000 words to my word count and two saturdays I could possibly squeak out another 10,000 words if I want to push.

If everything goes well, and I push I could be at the 270,000 word mark by the end of March being 20,000 words, or four work days ahead of the curve. That assumes I work 4 precious Saturdays to that end.


It's going to take two full months to recover from a shaky start. There have already been a couple of days where I was able to hit 5800 words, slightly more than I usually write but it generally cuts into the time I spend doing research and outlining. Trying to push beyond 5k words a day is probably not worth it for that reason, I really need that time to prep and edit. I just need to be patient, slow and steady to the finish line.