Butt in Chair! Put in the Hours!

Jane Yolen’s famous quote about writing is “BIC = Butt in Chair!” The point being you must put in the hours, sit in front of the computer and WRITE! You can talk all you want about writing, dream about it, read about it, etc. but it’s not until your butt spends some serious time in the chair that you will really become a writer. Bouncing off that idea, I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. In it, he says that to become a master of your craft you have to put in 10,000 hours. Bill Gates didn’t become the inventor of Microsoft without putting in hours and hours and hours of programming experience under his belt first.

But how many hours IS 10,000 hours? I mean how long will that take? Great question! I decided to break it down…

It takes 10,000 hours to become a master of your craft. That will take…

1 hour a day = 7 hours a week = 27 years

2 hours a day = 14 hours a week = 13 1/2 years

3 hours a day = 21 hours a week = 9 years

4 hours a day = 28 hours a week = 7 years

5 hours a day = 35 hours a week = 5 1/2 years

6 hours a day = 42 hours a week = 4 1/2 years

7 hours a day = 49 hours a week = 4 years

8 hours a day = 56 hours a week = 3 1/2 years

(These numbers have been rounded up or down for simplicity).

The point is that mastering your craft is possible! But it is also relative to the amount of hours you spend with your butt in the chair doing the work! Becoming an Outlier (a huge success like Bill Gates) has a lot to do with luck, but it will never happen if you haven’t put in the hours first so that you are ready when the opportunity strikes!

Are you crazy motivated to get writing! I hope so!

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10 thoughts on “Butt in Chair! Put in the Hours!

  1. Thanks so much for the info! I’d hear that quote (but a little different — a million words instead of 10,000 hours) and I wondered about how the hours translated to years. I write several hours per day, many more if emails and reviews count! The only bad thing is that my butt is currently expanding over the sides of my chair. Eek! I hope eventually my chubby butt will translate into a book deal! Haha!

  2. Crazy motivated? Ah, yes, but the hours I am putting in at the present moment seem to be skewing in the direction of mastering the craft of Mother/Wife.
    Hopefully they will still be publishing books in 27 years! :)

  3. Hm. Not sure if this works for me. Writing is so different for everyone. If I had someone who was prepared to pay me to work on my books for eight hours a day, I’d be a master already. (Sugar-daddy anyone?) As it is, I have to fit it around paying the bills. Still, hoping to become good at my craft a lot sooner than a couple of decades time!

  4. Wow – thanks for putting that into perspective for us. Guess my one hour a day (if I’m lucky) isn’t going to cut it. Luckily I have binges where I write for longer than that. And like Laura said, it’s probably a lot more if you count blogging, reviews, etc.

    Does the technical/business case writing I used to do for work count, I wonder? Probably not. :-(

  5. Pingback: Word Envy and the Writer | Escaping the Inkwell

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