Most people that read this blog know that I'm tracking my hours of dedicated practice. This next week I'm going to hit 1,000 hours of practice (I have sixteen left). I wanted to write a bit on what the first thousand has been like and where I feel that I am as a writer. It's taken me two years to get 1,000 hours of dedicated practice, but I think I'll probably double this pace over the next year given my current schedule.
So. What's a thousand hours feel like?
It's a grind. I don't want anyone to think differently. You have to wake up almost everyday and slog to the computer and stare at a screen that is surely damaging your eyes and you have to spend hours in front of that screen slamming out words and then when you're done with that, you have to spend hours more editing those words. That's all there is to it. Hours staring a screen and thinking.
It's more than that though. I was talking to someone the other day about why I write, and one of the major reasons is the ability to lose myself in the world's I'm creating. I spend hours everyday on a different planet, and that's something very few people can say they've done. I'm not being facetious here either. I'm being very serious. My mind is in a different world and I'm witnessing things that can't exist on Earth. I'm there for hours each day and it's pleasurable. Immensely so.
What's the difference between 0 hours and 1,000?
It's hard for me to give a completely accurate answer to this. The reason why is, I wrote for five years before I started tracking my hours. I've done some really rough estimations about what that would look like, and it's slightly a bit more than the thousand I've put in. More, I've spent literally countless hours writing in my everyday life as well as in my schooling. All of this contributes in some way to my skill level. So, I can't truly say the difference between 0 and 1,000 because I don't know.
But, between starting tracking and now, I can speak to. I'm a better writer for sure. I'm such a better writer than when I started tracking, I'm considering pulling Dead Religion down when I get a few more books up. I don't think it's worthy as a publishable book due to some of my failings as a writer. What's better? My ability to look at fiction and understand what will work and what won't work with fans. My ability to understand that just because I want something to happen a certain way, it doesn't make for a good story. Developing character depth. Developing character diversity. Developing ideas--God, this is huge, too. I have nine books lined up, ready to be written right now and more are coming at me everyday. My grammar is undoubtedly better. My metaphors are growing in strength, and that's something I couldn't be happier with. When I first started writing, metaphors were akin to masturbating with sandpaper for me. Just absolutely painful and the result being a mess no one wanted to see.
I confidently feel like I'm a competent writer at 1,000 hours. I'm bordering on good. That first thousand hours structured the basis for what the other 9,000 will be. The strides I made during that first thousand were huge, and I think they're going to slow down a lot in the next 9,000 as the things I need to learn are harder to master. I'm going to get it though. 10,000 hours of dedicated practice.
I want to be clear though, I have A LOT of room to grow. Competent is 9,000 hours away from master.
Why am I doing this?
I'm going to be a master of the craft that is writing fiction. Simple.