Did you know most Olympians run the 100 meters in about ten seconds. Seriously. Ten meters per second! Men tend to come in a hair under that, women just a bit over, generally speaking. Usain Bolt’s held the record for about fourteen years now with a time of nine-point-five-eight seconds.
So we can say that taking part in an Olympic event requires about ten seconds and then you’re done.
That’s not much of a time commitment at all, is it? One sixth of a minute and I can call myself an Olympic runner? Makes you wonder why more people don’t try it.
Of course, we all know it takes a lot more that ten seconds, even for someone as fast as Usain Bolt. There’s probably going to be months of training for that one specific event, not to mention years of work before that. Most of the major runners were probably training two or three hours every day while they were still in their teens.
So it’s not really about the ten seconds. It’s about all the years before those ten seconds. That’s what makes the ten seconds possible. That’s how you get to the Olympics.
And we understand that. It takes time to be good at something, It’d be silly to think otherwise. Running. Cooking. Dancing. Painting. Brain surgery. There’s some folks who may have a knack for it, may start a rung or two up the ladder, but everybody has a climb ahead of them. Nobody decides they want Olympic gold and just walks out onto the track at… well, wherever the Summer Olympics are this year. Paris? Really? Okay.
Anyway, you can guess where I’m going with this, right?
A while back I saw a self-publishing website talking about how easy it is to write a book. They’d broken it all down into math. According to them, it takes an average of 475 hours to write a novel. Just under twelve standard work weeks to complete a book. Not even three months.
Now, in all fairness, that’s about what it took me to write the first draft of –14-. But this number’s very misleading. It doesn’t count all the hours I put in before writing this book. There were only a handful of outline pages, sure, but that was still a few weeks of random scribbling and thinking. Not to mention all the books I wrote before it. Yeah, they count. Do you think Usain Bolt went straight to the Olympics without running one other race? D’you think he didn’t learn anything from those earlier races? That they didn’t help him?
I think (he said, pulling out his thick cardigan and pipe) there’s a lot of folks out there trying to convince us that time doesn’t matter. That spending time to get good at something is wrong. You shouldn’t have to practice at writing. You already know all the words! Just throw ‘em down and put that first draft up on Amazon! Why wait? Why listen to those gatekeepers who tell you you’re not ready for the Olymp– sorry, to be published! Ignore them and publish now.
What’s that? Don’t even know all the words? Well double-screw those gatekeepers. AI will write the story for me. That’s just as good as me writing it myself. I mean, if Usain Bolt sells me his gold medal, it means now I’m the fastest man alive, right? And I didn’t have to waste any time with all that “years of practice” nonsense. Heck, he doesn’t even have to sell it– AI can just copy his medal and now I’m the fastest man alive. It’s that easy. And heck, if AI copied his medal without permission and just stuck my name on it, well… I mean, I’ve still got the thing saying I’m the fastest man alive. That counts, right?
Whoooo. Sorry Getting a little warm in here. The ranty writing blog’s feeling especially ranty today, isn’t it?
Look, my point is, if you want to do this… don’t be worried about time. Yeah, it looks like she did something so much faster than you or he just popped up out of nowhere, but usually those numbers are just what’s on the surface. You’re only seeing a small part of the writing iceberg. We all had to put the hours in. You’re going to have to put the hours in.
I’ve mentioned here again and again how much writing I’ve done (and still do!) that nobody’s ever seen. So many half-completed (or fully completed!) books, comics, stories, and screenplays. So much stuff. But it’s all experience. It’s training.
Because you’re never going to make it to the Olympics without training.
Next time, I’d like to talk to you about paint. And Arabic grammar.
Until then, go write.