10,000 hours

Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, talks about how we need to do something for at least 10,000 hours in order to truly master it.  I also just came across this quote from Ira Glass (found here and here and all over the place on the Web):

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.

We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

I’m never 100% satisfied with what I sew.  Usually not even 80%.  I usually end up placating myself by saying , “It’s for a baby,” or “A non-sewer probably won’t notice.”  Then I feel guilty for being so hard on myself, for being such a perfectionist.  But thinking about how I’m not even close to having sewn for 10,000 hours and reading Ira’s thoughts above makes me feel better about my non-perfect sewing.  And encouraged to sew on!

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9 Responses to 10,000 hours

  1. Jessica says:

    Laura, I’m always impressed by what you sew! I may not be able to see it up close & personal, but from the pictures you share, you do great work! I wish I had half the skill you have! Keep on sewing! I bet you’ll get to those 10,000 hours before you know it!

  2. meggan says:

    Laura, I look at my diaper bag many, many times a day. I use diapers out of it just so I can use it, even when I have a basket of them sitting next to me. I see a spot or two where you maybe see imperfection, and I see a gift that shows a lot of love because I know exactly -whose- hands made that bag, and in what surroundings. And I love it. And I love you.

    • Laura says:

      Thank you my dear sister [in-law]. I was probably 95% happy with your bag! And part of that is because it was the second time I’d made that pattern so I’d had practice at it. I was happier with the quality of yours than the quality of mine. And I loved Selah’s Buttercup bag the best, partly because I loved the fabric and partly because it was the 6th one I’d made. So there is certainly something to be said for practice! I love you too.

  3. Vic says:

    Andy Crouch talks about the 10,000 hours thing too, in his book Culture Making (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0830833943/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=growi-20) and in this blog post: http://www.culture-making.com/post/the_secret_to_success_isnt_a_secret/

    I wonder if he got it from Gladwell, or vice versa?

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