So much for that 10,000 hour rule

The 10,000 hour ‘rule’ has been so thoroughly discredited that to discuss it further is beating a dead horse, but I can’t resist.

Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian, was an overnight success, surpassing seasoned authors who have decades of writing experience. Sure he did some writing in the past on his personal blog, but his career is a programmer, and it seems unlikely he put in 10,000 hours (roughly 10 years) of deliberate writing practice *. But you see this over and over – of high-IQ people becoming immensely successful with relative ease at high-IQ endeavors, such as writing and stock trading, even if these pursuits are hobbies, while those of lesser intellect who pursue these ‘hobbies’ as full time careers struggle and struggle to no avail. Just more evidence it’s IQ, not hard work, that is the ultimate determinant of individual success or failure at intellectual endeavors. Kinda reminds me of reading Salon articles; while I don’t agree with most of what’s written there, the writing itself is of a high enough caliber to suggest innate talent – talent that manifests itself as early as preschool and is what separates the rarefied creative class from the bulk of society.

Here are other examples of authors who apparently defied the 10,000 hours rule.

I would also add to the list Alex Garland’s debut at age 25 The Beach, an instant success that was later made into a crappy movie staring Leonardo Dicaprio. And then there is David Foster Wallace’s debut at age 26 Broom of the System, an inscrutable 500+ page tome that makes The Beach a child’s scribbling by comparison, although Wallace probably spent thousands of hours writing up until Broom.

* In the arts, which has a large subjective component, fame/success and quality are not always mutually inclusive. It’s possible that 10,000 hours applies more to proficiency as a writer than commercial success.

Comments are closed.