How does one become a writer? There are several steps you need to take to get where you’re going. The most important step is to develop something called ‘talent’. Without talent, you have literally, nothing to work with.
For starters , you’re going to need talent so don’t throw it away or push it aside. If you’re five feet tall and weigh a hundred pounds, you are not going to be the best linebacker in the world and basketball isn’t looking too good for you either. If that’s your dream, then walk away, because you aren’t going to get there, no matter how bad you want it.
Second , you’ll need training. A ton of it. You’ve probably heard that it takes about ten thousand hours of practice to become world-class in anything, and there’s a lot of evidence that it’s true.
Ten thousand hours takes five years, working eight hours per day, five days per week, fifty weeks per year.
Five years, full time.
Ten years, half-time.
Forty years, working one hour per day.
Let’s put this into a different perspective by looking at the level and dedication of training of say, the US Navy SEALs. For the sailor who wants to go into Special Warfare, he first volunteers for the Navy. Then he has to graduate Basic which is on average about 13 weeks. From there he moves to either a rate, his military job within the Navy, to get some skills or he goes straight to Pre-BUD/S. Pre-BUD/S or Pre Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL could last up to 4 weeks. Once that is completed, BUD/S officially starts. BUD/S is about 25 weeks long, that’s 6 months encompassing 3 separate phases. After graduating BUD/S, and there is quite the attrition factor, he gets sent to SQT or SEAL Qualification Training which last about 18 months. If you’re doing the math, that’s now over 2 years of training before the SEAL candidate even gets to a point where he’s assigned to a team. Even when he gets assigned to a team, he still has a probationary period within that team which could last anywhere from 90 days to 6 months to a year. These steps are all because the sailor showed a level of talent and dedication and wanted to be one of the elite, one of the best in the world at what they do.
If you’re going to be best in the world at one thing, you don’t have a lot of time to spend on other things. You really need to put most of your eggs in one basket.
If you’re trying to be the best in the world at six different things, then forget it. You won’t live long enough. Walk away from five of those things and focus on one thing. The One Thing that you have the most talent and the most desire to achieve.
If You Can Be The Best In The World, Then Give It All You’ve Got.
So let’s say you’ve decided on the One Thing you want to be the best in the world at, writing. And let’s say you’ve dropped all those other things that are stealing time from your One Thing.
So now it’s a shoo-in to get to be best in the world, right?
Nope. Wrong. Uh-uh. You still have to execute.
Now go put in your ten thousand hours.
And don’t just go through the motions on those ten thousand hours, because the competition is fierce. You need to give it your best effort. If you don’t, somebody else will.
Maybe it’s just not possible for you to be best in the world.
What then? Are you up a creek?
You need to set goals.
Goal-setting doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. The top writer in the world in any given year takes home somewhere between fifty and a hundred million dollars. Sure, that’s a lot of money, and a great goal to shoot for.
In that same year, there are a bit more than 100 writers who earn over a million dollars. See the Pareto Distribution, 80/20 rule.
This means that if you set your sights just a little lower, you increase your chances of getting there by 100.
Now here’s the important point. If your goal is to be in the Top 100 writers, you get there by following the same procedure as if you were shooting for #1. Here’s the procedure:
Make a conscious decision that you want to be in the Top 100. (Or Top 1000, or whatever select group you want to be in).
If you know that you can’t reach this goal, then walk away and cut your losses now, so you can focus on a goal that is attainable.
If you know that you can reach this goal, then give it all you’ve got, but be practical about it. Don’t be afraid to walk away from something if you don’t have faith in it or lack the ability to complete it.
The hard part of walking away from something is that you’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into it. There’s something in each of us that doesn’t want to “waste” that investment.
But the cold, hard fact is that it’s crazy to keep pumping in more time, energy, and money into something that’s doomed.
When you do that, you’re robbing yourself. You’re making it harder for you to succeed in the One Thing that you could be excelling in.
It’s a tough decision to walk away from something. I’ve had to do it several times in my life, and it always felt like amputating a foot.
Here are three questions to ask yourself:
What’s the One Thing you have the best chance to excel in? Do you have the talent? Do you have the desire? Are you willing to put in your ten thousand hours to become great at it?
What’s holding you back? What other things are cluttering up your life, keeping you from pursuing your One Thing?
What are you going to do about it?
Once you answer those questions, you now know what you need to do to become a world class writer.