"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing that makes you good."
Malcolm Gladwell "The 10,000 Hour Rule" Outliers
Day 2 of 31 Days of Writing in Community... Today we'll cover the idea of a Community of Practice, we'll discuss Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours idea, and we'll talk about how those two things work together to create a priceless tool for writers - whether they be classroom, blogging, professional, or tinkering writers.
We've all heard that practice makes perfect. That we should keep practicing if we want to be good at something. But how does that work in a community? One way is through a Community of Practice.
What's a Community of Practice?
A COP is a purposeful gathering of people to pursue a common goal. Churches are a good example. Organizations, clubs, businesses, even blogging communities can all be communities of practice. Research shows that this combination of communtiy and purpose helps to achieve the highest learning potential:
"And in spite of curriculum,discipline, and exhortation, the learning that is most personally transformative turns out to be the learning that involves membership in these communities of practice."Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning & Identitity (Wenger)
Writers are learners, observers, diggers, and dreamers. We use words to transform ourselves and others. Doesn't it make sense to do so in community?
Gladwell's quote from Day 1 of 31 Days of WIC tells of the key importance of community, history, opportunity & legacy. Practice is a form of opportunity. Every time we practice, we give ourselves the chance to get better, to see something new, to discover.Practice doesn't instantly make perfect, but it can make you better! So how much practice do we need for success? Gladwell answers this for us in his essay "The 10,000 Hour Rule":it's 10,000 hours. But, again, this can't happen alone; we must engage in community.
"..ten thousand hours is an enormous amount of time. It's all but impossible to reach this number all by yourself by the time you're a young adult." Malcolm Gladwell "The 10,000 Hour Rule" Outliers
So community plus practice... one thing that struck me was the idea of this 10,000 hours. (In a year, at 8 hours a day, 365, you have 2,920 hours. But let's be realistic and say that you could average an hour a day of writing (365 hours)... You'll need 27.4 years to get 10,000 hours. Eeeek!But, if you could devote a few weekends here and there (like conferences or projects) at say 10 hours, even just a few times a year- you get much better, much faster. And this is where I believe Community can be of a particular help. Communities advertise conferences, encourage ideas, have linky parties. Communities say "Try this!", "Here's a shortcut!", "Join this party!". With a community, your experience, your practice is accelerated. It's as if you get your hours plus my hours plus someone else's. Priceless, indeed!