In the book "Outliers," author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. He points to the Beatles as an example, noting that by 1962, the band was playing eight hours per night, seven nights per week. By 1964, the year of Beatlemania, the lads from Liverpool had played over 1,200 concerts together. (Fun fact: most bands today don’t play 1,200 times in their entire careers.)
Gladwell's theory isn't exactly rocket science. It simply asserts what we think we already know: practice makes perfect. However, it also underscores not only the importance of practice, but the need for emerging writers and artists to hone their crafts in highly artistic environments, surrounded by teachers and counterparts who can push artists further than they could go in isolation.
This sentiment is central to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the nation's longest-running, most prestigious scholarship and recognition initiative for students in grades 7-12. Scholastic is now open for submissions and provides winning artistic and literary teens with "exhibition and publication opportunities, as well as access to millions of dollars in scholarships, while continuing its legacy of identifying the early promise of some of our nation's most exceptional visionaries."
And when Scholastic says "visionaries," it means it: Previous award winners include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, Stephen King, Myla Goldberg, Richard Linklater, Kay Walking Stick, Zac Posen, and Lena Dunham, all of whom won the award as teens.
Some pertinent points about the award:
- Students in the U.S. and Canada, and those attending American schools abroad, are invited to submit creative works in the Awards' 28 categories, ranging from comic art to photography, flash fiction to poetry, video game design to novel-writing and more.
- All works are evaluated through a blind judging process based on originality, technical skill and the emergence of a personal vision or voice the same three criteria since the program's founding in 1923.
- Submissions are first judged on a regional level by the more than 100 affiliates of the Alliance, which bring the program to local communities across the country.
Application guidelines are contingent on the student's zip code. Check out the complete submission guidelines here.