The Magic Number

I have read that to become an expert in something, persistence is required. Specifically, 10,000 hours of persistence. I’m not positive how exactly this number was determined, but let’s look at it for a moment: if we divided this number of hours into days, that’s 417 days. Not so bad, right? But don’t forget, it’s impossible to do something 24/7. You would literally die, be it of starvation or lack of sleep or blood toxicity. You need to sleep and eat and do all those other things that humans need to do to survive.

 If we factor in sleep (7 hours), eating (roughly 2 hours) and other things, like cooking, showering, using the facilities, and getting up to walk around (2), you’re looking at those 24 hour days shrinking to 13. That means instead of 417, the number jumps to 769. Don’t forget, too, that humans suffer from flaws such as sickness, the need to socialize, and occasionally short attention spans. Plus, of course, unless we’re very lucky, we need to support ourselves through working.

 All these things can be really disheartening. As someone who aims to make a living writing books – good books – just the thought that I won’t be an “expert” until I hit that magic number makes me feel like I’ll be chasing my dreams forever. But that’s ok. What fun is the destination if you don’t also enjoy the journey?

 That isn’t to say “enjoy” as in, “Oh boy, this RyanAir flight is so horribly comfortable I can’t even stand to sit in the chair or pay $5 for a single microwave’d hotdog!” There’ll be tears and frustrations and writer’s block, without a question. But enjoy every struggle knowing that the moment you’re looking out at dozens of fans who came to the bookstore just to see you, you look back at everything you’ve done and realize it wasn’t all so horrible after all, because it brought you here.

 I remember my flight with RyanAir, but I remember my trips to Italy and France more fondly knowing I have that story to tell leading up to them.

 Life can be hard, and part of that difficulty is finding a way to fulfill your dreams while also taking care of yourself. I want to be a writer, but I also know that if locked myself in a room to write, I would have to neglect everyone I care about, my physical health, and even the action involved in finding a publisher to take my books. We all need to make sacrifices while pursuing our dreams, but we also need to not feel too overwhelmed when we can’t fulfill them right this second.

 The people that succeed are the ones that keep trying. You’ll never get that magic number if you stop. If you keep going, though; if you keep going, you’ll make it there eventually.

 That said, if anyone knows any publishers or magazines looking for an aspiring writer looking to do freelance work, they should definitely look me up.

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