So I’ve been talking a lot about deliberate practice lately, and I wanted this blog to focus, at least partly, on the way I use deliberate practice to improve my fiction writing.
That of course requires that I actually sits down and does some writing. So how much time do I actually manage to practice? Well, I’ve been tracking that the last three weeks, and here’s what I got.
I’ve spent about 12.2 hours in those three weeks on writing exercises. I’ve spent exactly 7.5 hours writing stories (focusing on improving one aspect of my writing at a time while writing). And I’ve spent about 13.4 hours reading. Many people would probably argue that reading doesn’t constitute deliberate practice, since you’re not practicing the skill — here writing — per say.
And I’d agree that if I was reading about the craft of writing, then I would be studying not practicing. But when I’m reading, I’m very much focusing on what the author is doing well and maybe not so well, trying to see what I should be doing in my stories. It’s a murky mixture between studying and practicing in my opinion. So I count my reading time as practice too.
SI end up with just above 33 hours of practice for three weeks, 11 hours per week. Not a bad amount, but a fair deal less than I was hoping for. And looking at my stats I can see that I actually had two days during those three weeks where I didn’t write at all. Usually I’d say I have about one day every month where I miss writing, so I’m hoping my stats will improve in the future.
Interestingly, I also tracked my time waste. Now, I didn’t count time spent on work, sports, family, friends, or my girlfriend as wasted time (those things are priorities too). But times spent doing nothing, time spent clicking through 9gag or Reddit or Youtube is definitely wasted.
In all I wasted more than 8.6 hours. So there’s definitely room for improvement. Which is good, because with 11 hours of practice per week it would probably take me decades to be where I want to be writing skills-wise.
Next week I’ll be on vacation, so my writing time might suffer. But I hope to get a little done every day, and at the same time I’ll probably get a lot of reading done.
How about you? How much time do you spend practicing a week and how much do you waste doing nothing? Have you tried tracking it?