The Secret to Writing Success

May 19, 2010


If you’re like me, I get really skeptical when I hear some guru claiming to have a silver bullet to achieving lasting success, be it a magic pill, number, formula, or mantra. However, there is one success formula or ‘magic number’ if you will, that I can wholeheartedly recommend: 10000.

‘10000?’ you ask. Yes, 10000. 10,000 hours to be precise. That’s the magic number for success.

According to Canadian journalist, author, and pop sociologist, Malcolm Gladwell, who has studied the common denominators shared by successful people around the world, you need to invest 10,000 hours practicing your craft to reach a level of professional success.

He goes on to cite examples such as Bill Gates, who practiced 10,000 hours of computer programming since high school before becoming a mega mogul. Even Gladwell asserts that he spent 10,000 hours of practice at The American Spectator and Washington Post, putting in about 20 hours work a week for a period of 10 years before becoming a successful author.

I decided to validate this theory in my hometown of Toronto by asking Aurora Award-Winning Science Fiction author, Karl Schroeder about Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule” at a short story workshop he was hosting. He admitted, yes, that was about the time it took for him to reach professional success in his field as a sci-fi writer.

If you were to spend just 2 hours a day practicing your craft (writing, editing, polishing, rewriting), you’d reach a professional level of success in your field in about 14 years. Given the fact that (according to Nielsen Media Research) the average American spends 5 hours a day watching television, investing 2 hours a day in your dream vocation should not be all that difficult to do.

Now, if you were to push yourself and simply work an additional hour a day (that’s 3 hours a day) notice what a difference your minimal effort would make over time. 3 hours a day would get you to your 10,000 hour mark in about 9 years. Subtract 9 years from 14 years and you would save yourself 5 years of wasted time working on stuff that you either detested or were not fully
passionate about to begin with!

I think you see where I’m going with this. It takes a decade or more to become an overnight success. Put in your 10,000 hours of practice. Start now, thank me later.

Sharif Khan

Writer, Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”
An inspirational book on awakening the hero within
(As mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Toronto Sun)


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