Before Ray Bradbury wrote his masterpiece Fahrenheit 451, and before his over 500 other short stories, and before the TV shows and movies based on his writings, he put in his 10,000 hours of learning how to write.
“I wrote at least a thousand words a day every day from the age of twelve on. For years Poe was looking over one shoulder, while Wells, Burroughs, and just about every writer in Astounding and Weird Tales looked over the other.
I loved them, and they smothered me. I hadn’t learned how to look away and in the process look at myself but at what went on behind my face.
It was only when I began to discover the treats and ticks that came with word associations that I began to find some true way through the minefields of imitation. I finally figured out that if you are going to step on a live mine, make it your own. Be blown up, as it were, by your own delights and despairs.
I began to put down brief notes and decriptions of loves and hates. All during my twentieth and twenty-first years, I circled around summer noons and October nights, sensing that there somewhere in the bright and dark seasons must be something that was really me.
I finally found it one afternoon when I was twenty-two years old. I wrote the title The Lake on the first page of a story that finished itself two hours later. Two hours after that I was sitting at my typewriter out on a porch in the sun, with tears running off the tip of my nose, and the hair on my neck standing up.”
Zen in the Art of Writing
Bradbury sold The Lake to Weird Tales for $20. And his original voice was off to the races. Do the math all it took for Ray Bradbury to find his voice was 2 hours of writing —plus the 1,000 words a day for 10 years.