The title says it all. As I said in a previous post, “if you write, you’re probably a writer“. Want to ensure that you’re a writer? Then write a lot. Make it an important part of your day, one for which you actually set time aside. Make sure that you write, each and every day, regardless of what it is that you write. It can be flash fiction, epic fantasy, short stories, humor, anything.
There’s a certain author whose books I admire and enjoy; Malcom Gladwell. He wrote a book called “Outliers” and in it he claims that a mark of success in any given field is a thing called “The Ten Thousand Hour” rule. Essentially, he says that research shows that the people who are considered the best in their field, be it musicians or athletes, have often practiced for ten thousand hours or more.
That’s a LOT of time. Imagine how good you would be after practicing the violin for ten thousand hours. Assuming you possessed even a modicum of talent, you would be fantastic. If you practiced your driving for ten thousand hours, you could sink a hole-in-one more often than not. If you played chess for ten thousand hours you could give Deep Blue a run for IBM’s money.
Why shouldn’t that rule hold true for writers? It seems to hold true for everyone else. It stands to reason that, as with everything else man can do, the more you practice the better your writing will be. Unfortunately, it seems that too many would-be writers don’t realize this. They get bored, distracted, “blocked”, or discouraged, and they don’t write. And they wonder why their book doesn’t get finished, or why the agents don’t accept their queries.
Well, you can’t get better at what you don’t do.
It took me a while to figure this out, too. Writing was fun, but it’s an uncertain hobby and an even more uncertain career. It’s a tough one to get into and fraught with rejections and failures. As Stephen King says “By the time I was fourteen … the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it.” This from a truly famous author. That should tell you something. King has been writing since before he was fourteen. And he is still doing it, only now with infinitely more success.
Writing, like no other career or hobby in the world, requires you to go out and hunt down success. Being good at it isn’t enough to get you recognized or even get your foot in the door of the agent’s office. Perseverance, ten thousand hours of writing and submissions, that’s what will make you fast enough to get your sneaker jammed in the crack. It’ll hurt for a minute, but it’s worth it.
Write up a storm. Build yourself a veritable typhoon of papers, paragraphs, and pens, one that doesn’t quit when the door gets closed in its face. Sweep those doubtful agents out to sea, so they’ll grab onto your work like a life-raft.