Writer’s Diary: 10,000 hours

Sorry for the hiatus in diary posts. The past few weeks I’ve been working full time (YAY!) which is wonderful news for me, but adjusting to the extra hours of work each week has been difficult on my sleeping patterns. I am naturally a night owl, however, the early bird catches the money worms and I now wake up 3 hours earlier than I did when I was part time. The extra work hours haven’t meant that I don’t have time to write anymore, I still have a couple of hours allocated every day for writing. However, with the lack of quality sleep I have just not been able to write productively. When I used to write 1,000 words per hour, I have been struggling to produce 250 words per hour in my tiredness. I haven’t been meeting all of my writing goals and it has been suggested to me that I should cut back from this blog entirely and focus all my energies on other things in my life like my work. So I thought I would outline my arguments for why I write this blog and what it means for me.

It is a widely held belief that to become a master at anything one needs to sink 10,000 hours of time into practice. With a full time job one clocks up that amount of practice easily in seven years: coincidentally the time expected to complete a doctor of philosophy. There is also the phrase, once used to describe manhood, “jack of all trades, master of one,” and as therapy is my profession, I aspire to master being a therapist. To this end I practice my profession every day through my work, through reading, and research, but also through the articles I write and a book I have in the pipeline. However, while therapy work is a passion of mine, and it is my goal to be a master at therapy as a discipline, there are other things I would like to see myself accomplish in my life. Also, I would like to learn to be competent at many other things: baking, fixing cars, homesteading, home improvements, etc…

Writing is my second great love, and I would like to put 10,000 hours of practice into my creative writing and acquire that as my second mastery in life. Now, I spent over a thousand hours last year (2016) writing, and that’s a good start, but I was writing mostly in secret and sharing only about 5% of my work. This  was good exercise but in order to get better I need to write to an audience, hence this blog. It is raising the stakes of my work knowing that people will actually see my work. I have set up Patreon, but I don’t have any intention of relying on my writing to pay any of my bills. The purpose of Patreon was an objective measure if/when my writing becomes excellent so if it stays at just a few dollars per month for a few years then that’s not unexpected for me. The main purpose was to create an outlet and structure for my writing projects to bring to conclusions and to develop the habit of writing daily so that I would always be moving closer to that 10,000 hour mark for writing. If my therapy hours pick up significantly, I will have to cut back on my writing because it is a secondary, but it still means a lot to me.

Regarding regular practice, this is important. Psychologically it is valuable because when one starts a habit like writing every day one is effectively making a promise to oneself. The promise is to invest time and energy into being a better person, to change and grow. This means that each day one doesn’t follow through on a promise made to oneself one is letting oneself down. Consider how you feel about a person who makes promises to you but never follows through with them. Consider how that harms your feelings of affection for that person, will when you make promises to yourself, it affects your feelings towards yourself. In short, promising yourself to do things and then not doing them is a sure way towards learning to loathe yourself. Writing every day is a promise I have made to myself, and writing certainly tests me intellectually. Writing tests my vocabulary, my grammar, my reasoning, my empathy, my powers of observation, my spelling, my self-discipline, my imagination, and my creativity. It is not an easy thing to write tens of thousands of words about something keeping it fresh and at least somewhat consistent. Writing definitely betters me as a person, and each time I hit my writing targets for the week I feel more positively about myself because I trust myself more.

It is also a burden in two senses: the first in that it forces me to be disciplined with my time, organisation, and even when I am feeling too tired to write. The second is that by putting my drafts out in public I have to live with this uncomfortable, even tortuous, self-consciousness of ‘am I improving myself? Am I learning and growing from this? Are the people who read my work appreciative of what I do?’ I actually welcome these burdens in my life and carrying these burdens is weight lifting for the soul. It strengthens the spirit and prepares me for whatever hardships might lie ahead in the rest of my life.

My third great love is art and music. I would like to sink 10,000 hours into that but I just don’t have the time presently to put more than 30 minutes at day into singing practice, and often it isn’t a quality 30 minutes at all. But having these three areas of interests helps me to focus and plan my life out and having a plan for myself takes a great load of my mind. So even though at times this blog feels like a burden to carry, along with my career and relationship burdens, I appreciate it and treat it seriously as an exercise of living the best life for myself.

Author: philosophicaltherapist

I am philosophical therapist based in Australia. However, I offer Skype services for people who live in regional districts, or internationally providing the time zones do not clash. In my practice I emphasise honesty, self-knowledge, curiosity, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, compassion, empathy, respect for emotions, and understanding how key relationships work.

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