Journey of Discovery 2: Ten Thousand Hours

Ten thousand hours is a long time.

In his 2008 book “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness,” meaning that, in order to achieve mastery in a field, you have to practice at it for ten thousand hours. Most of us have probably done maybe a handful of things for that long, if anything at all.

Now, I’m not saying you should spend ten thousand hours writing reviews, or write ten thousand reviews, or even write one hundred reviews. I’m not even claiming that this idea is the catch-all to every “practice makes perfect” problem. It isn’t. However, I am saying you should practice writing – and practice well – for ten thousand hours. It won’t make your issues with writing disappear. But you’ll work at it, bit by bit, until the concept of writing for someone else isn’t as frightening.

Elliot, shut the front door. Ten thousand hours is like, forever. You want me to spend ten thousand hours writing? That’s forty hours a week, every week, for five years!

The fact of the matter is, you’ve already logged a lot of time writing. If you don’t believe me, think about it. You had to write in school, sure. After that, you’ve chosen to write, either reviews or an article or even a post you make on social media. You have practiced recording your thoughts. You’re already well on your way to mastery.

In my article “Journey of Discovery: Part One”, I went over how a large barrier to writing reviews is simply sitting down and writing. I told you to sit down and just write. Worry about making it sound pretty later. Remember that writing is a process. Words are literally the final step. You’ve already formed the thoughts, opinions, critiques, compliments in your mind every single time you sit down to give someone feedback or to post to Facebook. You’ve already thought it through. After you’ve written, re-read and critique. Become an active participant in shaping better messages.

I’m pretty sure you’ve spent ten thousand hours thinking. You’ve spent ten thousand hours talking. So, the final step in the process is to spend ten thousand hours writing.

When you practice writing your thoughts, feedback becomes absurdly easier. You will be able to provide clearer, more concise feedback. Instead of putting off that review until next week, you might want to write it the second you get home. The quickest I’ve turned around a lengthy review from an event was two hours after I left the venue. I challenge you to beat that record.

Of course, I’m not going to tell you that throwing words on the paper is practicing writing. Practicing well is finding your limits and expanding them, bit by bit, consistently. So, tonight, sit down and write out your thoughts. It could be about anything. It could be a review of another judge, or how your week is going. It could be about how awesome the new Wonder Woman movie is. Form your thoughts and put them somewhere where you can look back in a few hours and know that you are practicing, and practicing well.

Nobody achieves anything overnight. The best judges you know got that way not because they could memorize more rules faster than anyone else, or put up paper faster than anyone else. The best scorekeepers in the world work for thousands upon thousands of hours just so they can make other people’s days better. I’m not promising that you’re going to become Riki Hayashi overnight and churn out reviews like it’s your job. What I am telling you is that, when you start putting ink to paper, over time, your ideas will overflow onto the page. Suddenly, you will have spent ten thousand hours writing. And hey, it may just be a number, but it will have gotten you where you want to go.

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