The Consulting Writer

aka The Frazzled Mom

Writer’s Series: Pitfall #2 – 10,000 rule

pitfall

Most writers have heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. The basic concept has been applied to writers that if one wants to be good, a near expert at writing, he or she needs to have done so for at least 10,000 hours. Estimate ten to thirteen years, depending on how much time is devoted to the craft daily. Personally, I’m still working on this skill! What does that mean for the new writer?

Practice daily. Write five minutes, thirty minutes or two hours. Whatever time frame the writer is able to devote, they need to do so regularly, daily committing to improving skills such as added vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure.

With that in mind, there are many ways to promote creative writing each day. I’ve personally followed the daily prompts on Word Press as a way to receive ideas on what to write. These ideas aren’t meant to inspire novels, but simple paragraphs, short stories. Nothing serious. No pressure. I had the opportunity to pick up several writing books from the library. One in particular held creative prompts for writing:

-write about an addiction

-look out the window. What do you see? Use descriptive language.

-write a fractured fairytale

-create a scene with fictional characters from different stories

-write a scene without dialogue

-write your eulogy

Well, writers? You get the idea. Search the Internet, find blogs with writing prompts and follow the one you like the best. Or, if you’re feeling daring, follow more than one. As the ideas are emailed each day, get to writing. The more you practice, the more you’ll improve, well, at least in theory. For the most part, I do agree with this.

However…

As a musician, one thing I have learned is the importance of proper technique. If a musician speeds through a piece of music, it could do more harm than good. As a pianist, I’ve found that if I make a mistake while playing a measure of music, I must return to it and repeat it slowly. Slowly and correctly is key. If I play through it again without taking care to hit each note as written, my brain will remember. For each wrong note, my brain will memorize my hand movements, the keys struck. I’ve done myself no favors. But if I take the time to learn the music, starting slowly at first, I can eventually speed up the music until I am playing it as intended.

I believe the same can be said for writing. Practicing daily is great, but without proper technique and knowledge, I don’t quite see how it can help improve me as a writer. If I make the same spelling or grammatical errors, without learning that I’ve made those errors, how will I learn? Each day, I would continue to repeat those mistakes until they would become second nature. I’m still looking for a good solution.

What I recommend for myself?

1) practice writing daily
2) find fellow writers (or several) who might be willing to exchange pieces to edit
3) read a lot
4) read more, but specifically on writing techniques
5) explore the idea of mentor-ship with a professional editor

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