Expertise Hour Update

About two years ago, I pledged to myself to write twelve hours a week, so I could continue to work toward the 10,000 hours of doing something that would get to an expertise level, a la Malcolm Gladwell. I used to post periodically about this. You may be asking yourself, during those sleepless moments around 3 am, how is Catherine doing on that project?

Well, steadily would be the right answer. Right now, I am not keeping up with my twelve hours a week. I am currently a little under 30 hours behind. So, what’s up with that? Well, let me tell you.

1. Two writing classes. That’s about, I dunno, twice as much checking time as one writing class. 🙂 Also, a writing class is about 2 times as much time as a grammar class. It goes without saying that I’m doing more teacher stuff this semester, and that will continue into next semester.

2. The whole arthritis lifestyle shift. You would never guess how much time shifting your eating habits takes. I mean, really doing it. You tell me where I can find amaranth in Cedar Rapids! All joking aside, cooking better and eating better means menu planning, longer shopping hours, and more food prep time. And this is also a wise thing for my future, but yeah, that’s about 5 hours of time that I no longer have a week, and that’s at a basic level.

And those two things are about it. I’m happy to report that I haven’t allowed anything to creep into my life that I can’t avoid, so I am more or less about to get in about 7-10 writing hours a week at this point. There is one more thing that will eat my time as I work my way back to it, and that’s more exercise, again, important.


This means a couple of things. I expect the amount of time I can spend writing a week will really vary from year to year. I also expect to still make my goal of achieving those extra 6000 hours I need (really closer to 5000 now) for expertise by retirement. While I hope to retire earlier than the standard 30 year career, changes in the state pension my husband has will mean that I am solely responsible for my own retirement if I outlive him, so I must plan to make sure I have what I need. I am saving hand over fist at this point, so I am hoping to get a little of that time back. What this means though is that I’ll be working longer, so if the writing slows down, that 6K is still doable.

Unless the commercial god of writing smites me with her magic money wand, in which case retirement will come much earlier. The only way I would leave my job to write is if writing became more cost effective than my job. Behold my pragmatism!

So, that’s where we’re at. Writing steadily, working hard, eating well. How’s about you?


STILL trying to get that last scene written in Abby Rath draft 3. So close! STILL want to get that to betas in November. That’s my goal. Yours?

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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