Education, Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

How long does it take to become a writing master?

Painting The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins
How many words do you think you need to write to become a writing master? | Painting The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Facebook friend recently shared a link to an article titled, Here’s A Shocking Truth If You Think You’ve Wasted Your Life. According to this article, it takes a person about seven years to master a particular task. This prompted me to consider how long I have been writing and how close I should expect myself to be to mastering it.

After giving it some thought, it occurred to me that I am probably exactly where I should be in regards to my writing career. Although I have been writing in some capacity for most of my life, it is only in the past five years that I have put my full effort into it. Prior to that, I had taken a ten-year break while I was married because my ex didn’t want me to write at all.

I didn’t truly dedicate myself to writing until early 2009, around the same time that my marriage disintegrated (which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Ever.) Put in that context, it seems I still have at least two more years of consistent practice to put in before I have any right to bemoan my lack of success. What difference does it make that I have a Master’s degree in creative writing? Who am I to believe that I should have published several books by now, when I am still in the middle stages of mastering my craft?

It’s good to get some perspective so you can stop beating yourself up because you haven’t “made it” yet. Especially if you are one of the multitude of writers who give themselves one year to make it or quit and do something else. It turns out that one year will get you nowhere. One year barely scratches the surface. If you’re going to give yourself a deadline, at least give yourself the full seven years that it takes the average person to become a master of anything.

Now that I know about this seven-years to mastery concept, the tough part will be to keep reminding myself, once I have passed that magical benchmark, that writing is one of those “use it or lose it” skills that you have to continue to practice if you hope to remain a Master. It’s one of those crafts in which you will continue to learn and evolve long after you have “mastered” it.

Where are you on your journey to becoming a writing master? Please share in the comments below.

~Amanda L. Webster

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