If you want to get to the top of your game, natural talent won’t be enough. You’ve got to put in the hours – 10,000 of them.
Reading the article linked to above really made me think. I tend to dabble. In fact I think dabbling and procrastinating are two of my big talents. I was heavily into patchwork, then I started writing poetry, then I got side-tracked from both by genealogy (though I still think of myself as a poet) and there have been plenty of other interests along the way.
But I get to the point where I'm not satisfied with the level I'm at, and I think I tend to attribute that more to lack of a major talent than to lack of effort. Ten thousand hours? It's a lot. Especially for someone with a day job, and household responsibilities as well. Ten thousand hours of a forty hour a week job is about two thousand hours a year, or five years. For an hour a day pastime, or an hour a week, it's a lot longer - let's see - an hour a day five days a week would be forty years.
Of course the ten thousand hours figure is for the very top level - Nobel prize winning novelist, Olympic gold medal sportsperson, world renowned concert pianist. It probably takes a lot less than that to get to a fairly decent level of competence, but still a lot more than we allow for in our culture where, too often, we expect to be multi-talented and well-rounded.
Some of us would no doubt be bored if we stuck to one thing. I believe it's a valid choice to diversify, but we have to be realistic about what we might be giving up.
So, I am soberly considering how much I want to be a really competent poet and how much time I might need to put in to achieve it.
Links for today:
Great to see New Zealand poet Emma Neale (who won last year's Takahe poetry competition) featured in Poetry Daily (The last link there is the one to Emma's actual poem)
Following links from other writerly blogs, I came across expat New Zealander Martin Edmond's blog, Luca Antara, and this post on the 99 most frequently used words in An Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in English. An intriguing list, which one of his commenters promptly rearranged into a sort of a poem. (The words are arranged alphabetically on the blog post, it would be interesting to see them in order of frequency)