Thursday, July 1, 2010

does practice make perfect?

i've been reading (shocking, i know, who would have thought that i READ) a book called Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. it makes the interesting proposition that to become truly 'proficient' in any skill, a person must spend roughly 10,000 hours practicing that skill. including novel writing.

BUT, i have to wonder, assuming that 10,000 hours is indeed the magic number, does reading count? what about writing for school classes or writing creative fiction that isn't a novel? how do you really measure the time one puts in to writing?

also, Gladwell completely dismisses the idea of natural talents that can achieve proficiency without putting in the time (10 k hours) practicing. however, i know of at least one famous person who appears to be evidence to the contrary.

what are your thoughts? is practice always necessary to make perfect, or do you think Gladwell is wrong? can other areas of reading and writing count as this 'practice'?


  1. I think it depends. While I do believe that practice is the single most important thing when it comes to writing, the amount of time required to achieve any level of "perfection" differs for each person. You can be naturally talented at writing and won't have to put in a lot of practice time; or you can a less talented one who has a long way to go before reaching there (like me). There isn't a one size fits all number of hours.

    Furthermore, there are different levels of practice. If you write with an eye toward improvement, you will (probably) advance faster than if you just write with no thoughts of furthering your writing. :)

  2. see, this is exactly what makes sense to me, too. (you word it wonderfully, by the way!). every person is different, so it seems impossible that someone can just say, "here is the magic number for everyone," and leave it at that.

    thanks, Sandy! : )

  3. I've missed you on my little vacay! Now I'm scrambling to catch up. This post is sooooo awesome. I think that practice is definitely the key, even for naturally talented, amazing individuals like yourself and I ;).

    I would say that reading definitely counts, and I used to think that blogging, essays, emails, everything counted towards writing your million bad words, but the deeper I get into my fiction, the more i realize that it's it's own breed of know?

  4. HEY MOLLY! i see your comments in my email, and yet my blog won't update to show them...weird fluke. : ( i'm just going to answer them, though!

    I missed you, TOO! I'm glad to hear your vacay was so relaxing : )

    you're right--fiction IS it's own breed of writing. while other writing (like essays) help you practice in some ways, those kinds of papers only help with the technical stuff, and fiction is so much more!!

    but amazing writers like us don't have to worry about that too much, right? ;D


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