Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

So, How Much Writing Does An Author Have To Do Before They’re “Good”?


I hear a few of my readers shouting, “It depends on the Author!!

Some of you may be thinking the word “author” up there “should” be “writer”

Why?

Well, some folks think “writers” are still trying to be “authors” and “authors” have “made it”.

And, for more thoughts on whether you must be published before you can call yourself an author check out my past post, This Is The Way It Must Be Done!

OK, so Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours (833.33 12-hour days) to master a skill

Ray Bradbury talked about needing to write a million words to get to the “good ones”

And, Suw Charman-Anderson, in the Forbes article, Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours: A Useless Goal For Fledgeling Writers, talks about both claims

A few excerpts from that article:

“…there are other things that go into being a good writer than writing. Reading, for example. And not just letting yourself get absorbed by a good book on a regular basis, but reading with one part of your brain watching what the writer is doing and how you are reacting to it.”

“There’s also the research, the observation, the film critiques….There’s mulling over ideas as you fall asleep and plotting scenes in the shower.”

“If you want a simple rule to help you along your path to authorial excellence, I’m afraid there isn’t one. Sitting down and writing regularly, daily if possible, is a good idea, but by itself it won’t get you where you need to be.”

What are some of the “other things” that make a “good” writer/author?

Suw also says “…I rather like it that writing requires so many different skills.”

What are some of those skills?

Then, there’s Jared Sandman, linked to from Suw’s article, in his post, 10,000 hours, saying:

“Personally I’d place that benchmark at about 500,000 words.  I spent my first 250K learning the technical basics of writing and storytelling, the nuts-n-bolts of sentence-by-sentence composition.  After that my stories reached a minimum level of publishability and I began to start selling.  Not with regularity, mind you, but any early sale should be feted as a win, especially after a long period of self-imposed isolation.

“It took another 250K of experimentation to properly utilize those tools I’d acquired in my writers’ toolkit.  Style, voice, format, plotting, and the balance of creativity versus productivity were issues I tackled at that stage.  I challenged myself with different projects and forced myself outside my comfort zone.  I tried a lot of things (many of which failed) before finally settling on my default voice and style.  During this period I focused primarily on short stories, but I also broached screenwriting and even wrote my first novel.

“In 2005, after seven years of steady writing, I felt like I’d paid my dues — or at least didn’t consider myself a fraud compared to ‘real’ authors.”

I know many writers/authors read this blog

Perhaps they’ll go read the whole of Suw’s and Jared’s pieces and come back here and share their own experience………
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19 responses to “So, How Much Writing Does An Author Have To Do Before They’re “Good”?

  1. Jane Watson February 26, 2013 at 7:41 am

    For me it has nothing to so with page counts, tools or ‘lessons’ learnt. I feel there is only one thing a writer needs to strive toward in order to achieve their potential: they need to learn how to access their inner world and to contact their own authentic self and bring that self forth. All the rest is just words. They need to be able to think about themselves and the world and to look within. I write the same way I did when I was 13 – but now I think very differently;-) To write about the world outside you have to look inside. As the mystic poet said:

    “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
    ~ Rumi

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  2. Jane Watson February 26, 2013 at 8:05 am

    And here’s something else ;-) It seems to me that this kind of discussion is one that many writers have when they are focussed on something other than the writing. It is easy to get way layed but the story you must write is there. How often writers find something else to do or to write about when all along they hold the narrative they must write within themselves. Rumi had something to say about this kind of process too ;-):

    “You wander from room to room
    Hunting for the diamond necklace
    That is already around your neck!”

    Like

  3. Once February 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Jane Watson and Jane Austen have much in common. Writing, it seems to me, has the same appeal negative or positive that serves the personality in everyday life. What, exactly, is “charisma” or that “something” that some souls have that makes them either disconcerting when encountered, inordinately attractive or repulsive, almost immediately with any exposure to them? Tomes have been written, of course, about both, but the reality of the answer varies with everyone of us and, in addition, it is possible to acquire a taste for either beauty or its antithesis for whatever the reasons over a considerable length of time such that the effects of this status as “disconcerting” is in and of itself disqualified and suspect. Education produces both results and we live and learn to use or discard anything we have learned from its effects in experience, and not from any additional knowledge or training. Both Jane’s, then, have a point. For my money, simply write; if it catches one’s own attention as “magic,” if it brings with it a sense of joy and exhilaration, not to mention spiritual and/or mental confirmation, if it uplifts the soul and mind to add to one’s own meaning to life, then half the purpose for writing is already there; if it attracts a following, well, so much the better.

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  4. Jan February 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I love Rumi and love you too Jane, you speak magic words to my heart. Craft is my response from my heart to my fingers.

    Like

  5. Barbara Blackcinder February 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Not to dismiss Jane’s, Jane’s, and Jan’s, and Alex’s comments, I liked the tail end of Once’s comment: “For my money, simply write; if it catches one’s own attention as “magic,” if it brings with it a sense of joy and exhilaration, not to mention spiritual and/or mental confirmation, if it uplifts the soul and mind to add to one’s own meaning to life, then half the purpose for writing is already there; if it attracts a following, well, so much the better.” Myself, I enjoy writing for all those reasons.

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  6. Pingback: Writer’s World Blogroll | M.S. Fowle

  7. Barbara Blackcinder March 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I thought you might be saying that I’m ‘wordy’ LOL

    Like

  8. Jane Watson March 4, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Actually when you used the word ‘slam’, Barbara, I thought you were talking about the Poetry Slam and you thought that Alex was writing a Pawku about your writing practice… (Tiny Poetry Slam in Second Life, folks ;-) but what would I know ? LOL…I am full of admiration for the prolific talent of your writing, Barb, your words do flow …

    Like

  9. Barbara Blackcinder March 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    LOL. I forgot to use Australian venacular. Boy, words sure can be confusing. hee hee

    Like

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