Last night at the writing group someone mentioned that a speaker at a big writing convention in Seattle said that writers should aim to release 4 books a year. 4 books a year? Are you freaking kidding me? I can’t get one done in a year! okay, admittedly I don’t work on my writing enough but holy crap, really? 4 frigging books a year? I don’t mind saying I wasn’t the only one to react in a “non-positive” way at that announcement. I did feel a bit better about myself to see all these other writers, some published, reacting in a similar way. However, I’ve been thinking about it all day and was reminded of an email I received from Brian Johnson, the creator of en*theos and the Philosopher’s Notes which I had kept. I went back and found the email. It was titled “Practice, Practice, Practice”. Now if that isn’t a portent of the direction my life is taking I don’t know what is. Anyway, in his email he quoted a couple of things from Eric Butterworth:
“Ask the great athlete or the concert pianist or the successful actor if they arrived at the place where they need no further practice. They will tell you that the higher you climb in proficiency and public acceptance, the greater the need for practice.” ~ Eric Butterworth from Spiritual Economics
How about this:
“The great piano virtuoso Paderewski was once playing before an audience of the rich and the royal. After a brilliant performance, an elegant lady waxed ecstatic over the great artist. She said, “Ah Maestro, you are a genius!” Paderewski tartly replied, “Ah yes, madam, but before I was a genius I was a clod!” What he was saying was that his present acclaim was not handed to him on a silver platter. He, too, was once a little boy laboriously practicing his scales. And even at his peak, behind every brilliant performance there were countless hours of practice and preparation.” ~ Eric Butterworth from Spiritual Economics
The point he was making was that no one becomes a master until they put in the time to become a master. Everyone starts somewhere and it is the dedication you put into the craft that makes you great. In a later email Brian says something about the actual amount of hours that it takes to become a master. It was something like 10,000 hours. When my husband and I did the math we figured out that it equals 8.5 hours a day in dedicated practice to become a Master. Now I don’t know about you but the thought of giving myself 1 hour a day to write seems like a stretch and a HUGE commitment. I guess that is where I am though and that means that is where I have to start. So for me…..I am going to start with blogging more frequently, attending the monthly writer’s group and setting aside at least 1 hour of my day to journal and work on my writing. Mastery of the craft is the goal but its going to take baby steps to get there.