They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery. Whether that be of an instrument, writing, baking, whatever you can think of. For example, if I baked for eight hours every week day, I would be a master by the end of 5 years. (that is, if I did my math right…)

I have been thinking about this recently. When I first heard it, it was a guilt trip. “10,000 hours? No wonder I am so terrible at everything! Why haven’t I been writing more, practicing piano more, etc.” I felt so guilty for not already logging those 10,000 hours.

My next reaction was to marvel at how long it takes to be a master at anything. If it was your full time job, it would still take 5 years. If it was your part time job, it would take 10 years. No small change for someone who hasn’t lived three decades yet. I can’t imagine concentrating on anything for eight hours straight. There is a reason why I love teaching, we get to mix up the subject every hour!

Then I laughed, because I have 100% most likely already read for 10,000 hours. No wonder I can read aloud so well. Heh.

Now as those first reactions have worn off a little, I am still thinking about it. What are the things I wish to gain mastery in? Am I putting in the time to actually achieve mastery? Is it worth doing for all of that time? I don’t have to achieve mastery in everything I put my hand to. Baking is something I love doing, but I am not going to put all the time and effort into it to gain mastery of the subject.

On the other hand, if I want to gain mastery of a subject, half an hour a day is not going to get me that far. If I want to put the time and effort into being good at something, a little bit a day is not going to suffice. Sure, it is better than nothing. A little bit is progress in the right direction, but is it going to get me what I want? I don’t think so.

Now, as a thought, I don’t think the 10,000 hours is true for every single subject and every single person. Someone came up with a number and slapped it on mastery. I consider it more as a ball park number, and estimate for how much time it takes to be really, really good at something. I think it is a good estimate, but still an estimate.

As another thought, I don’t think natural talent will shave off that many hours of your time. If you are naturally good at something, you won’t be able to pick up a subject and be a master in a matter of a week. You will have a head start, for sure. Things will come easier, it will click faster. But talent can only get you so far. There comes a time in every persons life where talent ends and the slog begins. Talent is not a substitute for hard work. A person who works hard and diligently will get farther than the person who rides off of talent alone.

As I am looking at my goals for the future, I realize I can’t take shortcuts. I can’t dally in writing if I want to attain those goals. If this is truly something I want to be good at, to master, I have to put in the work. I don’t want to feel guilty over the time I did not spend on writing. After all, I can’t go back and change anything. It is what it is, and I can either spend time stressing over it, or I can move forward. On the other hand, I don’t want my goals to be a pretty picture I pull out occasionally to look at. I can’t shut away the reality of what it will take to get there.

All this to say, I will be spending more time glaring at my stories.

Have a fantastic day.

Shaina Merrick