Walls of the Temple

A note today to all empire builders: If you leave your ancient temples laying about, then curious children and cats are likely to go within them. Who knows what will happen to them there?

Listening today (off and on) to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Thus far, it seems a decent enough book and it’s about time someone conducted a thorough critique of commonly-held notions about the origin of success (particularly in the wake of Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s fascinating Black Swan).

Early in the book, Gladwell puts forth the figure of 10,000 hours as the amount of time needed to fully master a given area of study. That seems about right to me — provided the person “paying their dues” is engaging in the process in a focused way. You can’t master anything if you don’t engage with it whole-heartedly… or, perhaps, whole-headedly.

Just about two years ago, I started doing a daily sketch for the purpose of mastering the creation of art. According to Gladwell, the people who really excel practice their craft approximately 20 hours per week for about 10 years. Right now, I’m putting in about that much time — an hour a day in sketching and between two to four hours almost every night — but it can get pretty spotty when other things take precedence. How much further do I have to go at this pace?

Wait — don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.


3 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. In the book “This is Your Brain on Music” the author treats us to the neurological perspective of a musicians brain – and agrees that about 10,000 hours of dedication is all that separates anyone you know from a virtuoso instrument player. (an interesting side note, more of your brain is used during the playing of music than any other activity. Confirmed by brain imaging studies.)

    Now for those of us that like both art and music, pheer the demands of mastering both! At least moleskin makes music paper books as well as sketchies.

  2. Fortson,

    Just read Gladwell’s “Blink” over the weekend. Thanks for the heads-up about “Outliers.”

    You know, “How much further do I have to go at this pace?” implies that mastery is some sort of plateau… 😉

  3. ratchetcat,

    @saintneko — Interesting! Hopefully, moleskin will always be around to serve the needs of those of us with overheating minds.

    @Fortson — True. “Mastery” is where it starts to get interesting… 😉