10,000

November 19th, 2008

No, that’s not how many words I have in my NaNoWriMo book (although I’m getting close). 10,000 is actually how many hours it takes people to achieve expertise in their field…

…at least according to Outliers, the new book by Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell. He quotes a neurologist who says:

“In study after study of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, and master criminals, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”

This does sort of make sense. I mean Tiger Woods first picked up a club when he was two. He’d easily put in 10,000 hours of practice hitting golf balls before he won his first tournament.

Britney and her dancing? Ditto.

(Although admittedly you couldn’t tell by her last VMA performance, but we’ll cut her some slack for that due to extenuating circumstances.)

And sure these people were also probably born with an innate talent for their chosen profession, but practice—and having access to the right opportunities, such as Britney’s early years snake handling with the Mickey Mouse Club–helped.

So, you know. I’m just saying. If you want to do something and do it well, practice. If you love doing it, this shouldn’t feel like a chore. Right?

Sadly, according to Mr. Gladwell there’s no guarantee that if you put in your 10,000 hours you’ll be super successful (look at Jean Claude Van Damme). But your chances are astronomically greater than someone who didn’t put in her hours…

…although yes, there are people who have only put in 100 hours of practice who are just as successful as people who practiced way more. We call these people One Hit Wonders. Or just plain Pratts:

Anyway, here’s someone who’s already putting in some solid work on her 10,000 hours: Meet Cameron, a young aspiring writer featured on Amy Poehler’s awesome new online series, Smart Girls At The Party, one of my New Favorite Things:

So cute! I love the song! I love Cameron! And you know what? I love Barbie! I do! In the Bratz vs. Barbie war, I choose Barbie, because her feet don’t come off with her shoes (sick) and Barbie has always had actual jobs, such as ballerina, jet pilot, and (at least when I played with the kids I babysat for) private detective, a la Stephanie Zimbalist in Remington Steele.

In other news–Lipstick Jungle is not cancelled! It’s just not renewed for next season. If you want to save it, you know what you have to do.

Anyway, I heard the Obama girls will be having slumber parties at the White House after they move in. Dude—I want to go to a slumber party at the White House so badly!

And okay, so I know I wrote that one book where a girl saves the President from being assassinated, then gets asked out by his son.

But I swear that President wasn’t based on this new one! I wrote that book a long time ago.

And yeah, okay, someone just optioned the film rights for that book. But don’t you see what this means?

It means I need to write another sequel, for when the film hits! And to do so, I need inspiration. And for that, I need to go to a White House slumber party.

But since I realize I’m a bit old to be invited as a guest, I have already decided: I’ll go as a Slumber Party Planner (you know, like a Wedding Planner? Only for slumber parties. I just made that job up. That’s what 10,000 hours of practice gets you)!

I have a lot of experience in this because:

a) I have been to a lot of slumber parties

b) I babysat a lot as a teen—it was my primary source of income and I sent myself to Europe with two (2) separate boyfriends on the money I earned doing it. The Babysitter’s Club had nothing on me.

c) No child ever threw up or got lost in the White House while I was babysitting.

I have some great ideas for the White House Slumber Party I’m organizing. First of all, Lip Synch in the Lincoln Bedroom, Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On Thirty style (no jumping on the bed though, I promise)!

I think we should lip synch to this girl-centric video that I’m loving at the moment…it’s by Katy Perry (and no, I don’t think she’s a one hit wonder). Because brides! With baseball bats! Also: Pink bicycles!

Hot N Cold

Then, of course, laser tag on the White House lawn (us against the Secret Service)! What could be more awesome?

Then we’ll have my favorite gluten-free snack (popcorn mixed with M&Ms) as we swoon while watching a high school girl try to fight off her romantic feelings for a vampire who can’t trust himself not to bite her, however much he might love her (here’s an exclusive sneak peek of the scene where they kiss for the first time).

PSYCH! Made you look! What did you think it was going to be? Twilight? It’s not even out yet!

But you have to admit, that girl was hilarious. Oh, Buffy!

Anyway, then after that, lights out!

Seriously, I think I should be able to get a kickass sequel out of all that. Especially if I get the Jonas Brothers to show up. Believe me, I’m working the phones. My friend Paris H. is ON it.

The best part of all is…my services as Slumber Party Organizer? Free. Of. Charge. Because I’m just such a generous, giving soul. No, really.

Oh, one more thing: what about a dachshund/poodle mix for the White House dog? I’m told they’re good for people with allergies. I saw one being walked the other day (his name was Doodle. Dachshund+poodle=Doodle…get it?) and he looked just like this one (minus the cat):

So cute!

Okay, off to go work on my 10,000. If you hear of any openings at the White House for Slumber Party Organizers, LET ME KNOW!

More later.

Much love,

Meg