Practice makes perfect, so we quip every day. But like most familiar anecdotes, this one has lost its taste over time. It is to this end that we become oblivious of the weight it carries.
In today’s post I bring it back to your attention by the position practice, Deliberate Practice holds in a Writer’s development.
The questions I delve into are:
What entails this practice? Whats the rationale for it? And more importantly, How do we effectively practice writing?
First here’s an instance.
Consider athletes preparing for the Olympics or any competitive sport.
Years before the main event, they practice intensively, the athletes do this by hiring various coaches to help them train. From the fitness coach, to the life coach. Hours of rigorous practice are invested. All to a single end, being strong enough to compete at the global stage and prevail.
This is very well true for writing as it is for every other creative endeavour.
If you want to create art, beautiful art, you must be willing to practice, you must deliberately practice and you must effectively practice.
Here’s what I mean by these:
Willing to Practice
Thinking is good. Every action stems from the mind and is a fruit of thoughts. Intentions are noble but if there is no willingness to back that thought line, you’d get no where. As I usually say:
“saying is not enough, do! Planning is not enough, Act!”
Even Economists usually attach willingness to ability before demand can be addressed as effective demand. This is the position of willingness in translating practice into deliberate and effective practice for epic productivity.
What Separates the good from the Great isn’t exactly in what they do but in how they do it. Great people don’t allow life to happen to them, they are proactive and thus take charge. Deliberate Practice entails having an end, pursuing that end until you archive it. It involves deciding to intentionally play out the episodes of a future life event and thus prepare well for it.
I always tell my students: “The difference between the local musicians singing in pubs and the big bands travelling the world isn’t so much in the level of talent. It lies in the how well they have performed.” (note that performed is in the past tense)
Effective practice entails competing before the main event. You play out the events of the competition before getting to the pitch. It helps you perform what you’ve envisioned. As the saying goes: ‘You can’t plough a field by turning it in your mind.” Effective practice enables you to literally do the work before the work.
Seeing how good effective practice is, we’re now forced to ask: how does one effectively practice?
Effective Deliberate Practice Steps
1. Set a target: this is the first stage where you decide what you want to do? You set the goal. Make it as simple and clear as possible. This gives you a sense of direction and focus as you prepare for the main event. As a writer for instance I practice by writing a poem everyday. Look for a small task that you must complete in order to help you develop your skills. Do it daily.
2. Design a work plan: having a target for your practice is not enough, to effectively practice, you must decide how you are going to practice. In this stage you design how you are going to practice. Be methodical and strategic in designing the work plan. Building on my previous instance, as a writer my everyday poetry practice plan includes a plan to go on a walk in the streets grabbing ideas in my journal.
3. Execute the work plan: next you literally do it. Execution goes beyond planning. It is putting one foot in the main event after another. It involves doing. As a writer practicing, I literally write, following my writing process. I write the poem. Daily!
4. Repeat the process: intentional practice doesn’t simply become effective save when it’s repeated. Repetition builds habits, rituals and routines. These aid your mastery of the process. Routinely practicing helps you build permanent skills in your field hence mastery. Because I practice writing daily, I can write faster and better than those who don’t. I’m developing a mastery for the process. This is what deliberate effective practice does for you. This is the position it holds in your writing life.
Deliberate Practice is the process in which you set a target, plan towards it and execute the plan before you head into the main event. It is an important part of a Writer’s life as it can shorten the learning curve and aid mastery.
Incorporate the steps I discussed in this post and you’d surely practice deliberately and effectively.
In what other ways do you think Writers can practice deliberately? Tell us by leaving a comment below.