Did you watch the Super Bowl last night? What an exciting, surprise-a-minute bunch of craziness! And the game was good, too. Don’t you love those commercials? 😉
Seriously the game was a nail biter. Two great teams, two awesome quarterbacks. Tom Brady and Eli Manning are the best of the best. They’re both seasoned athletes that strive for excellence and know how to get it done when the pressure’s on. But they weren’t always premiere NFL quarterbacks. They were both rookies once. They’re better players than they were in high school, and better than they were in college. And there’s only one reason for that. They practiced. In the heat. In the cold. While injuries healed. When they didn’t feel like it. They have talent, or DNA in Manning’s case, but talent and DNA only get you so far. Practice is the only way to be able to throw bullets when stampeding defensive ends are coming your way.
Practice = perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to acquire, maintain or improve proficiency in it.
You should practice whatever you are passionate about. If you are a football player you should practice playing football. If baking is your passion, perfect that cookie recipe by baking cookies. Lots of them.
If you are a writer, you should practice writing. No matter where you are in your writing journey, you can get better. We writers like to excuse away our need for practice with the fact that we need inspiration, a spark, a call from the Muse. Practice seems intrusive and boring and regular and not spontaneous. Let’s get to the exciting stuff of writing best selling novels. Yes, let’s get to it, but don’t despise the days of small beginnings. You have to walk before you can run, and all those other good cliches that apply. Unfortunately being the very best you can be takes practice.
You won’t be publishing every word you write. But all the words you write will help you get your best words published.
The key, as in the definition above, is to perform the activity regularly to maintain and improve proficiency. I like what Farnoosh over at Prolific Living says:
“Practice can be the one gap you have to close between yourself and your goals (Choose to close it). It can be the one impediment that can hold you back and leave you wondering why others are so much better at that something for which you pine (Don’t allow it). It can make the difference between good and great, mediocre and magnificent (Go for the latter). It can define your skills by different scales altogether (Up the ante) It can be your breakaway strategy and your true path to your very own authentic success or the lack thereof (Seriously, practice is that good and almighty.)”
Writing practice is like loosening the creative muscles. It might take us down an unexpected path in our writing, or it might clear the way to focus on our current WIP. Here are a few methods to use for a regular writing practice:
Brought into popularity by author Julia Cameron, Morning Pages are a way to clear the mind, get the juices flowing and establish a routine that leads to more writing. Check out my post How To Rescue Yourself From Creative Captivity With Morning Pages
I saw those eyes roll. Writing prompts – people either seem to love or hate them. But you don’t have to use pre-programmed prompts. Make up your own based on what interests you that day. Use the news, the argument the neighbors had last night, that phone call with your mother. Then riff. If you like to be inspired by a writing prompt, one of the best places to find them are on Joe Bunting’s The Write Practice. Not only does Joe give you writing ideas, he lets you post the results.
Copy great passages of writing
If you want to be great, study the greats. You can bet Tom studies Eli. Eli studies Tom. They both study guys like Montana and Marino and Elway. And then Eli does it Eli’s way. Tom does it Tom’s way. Hunter S. Thompson typed out an entire book of Fitzgerald and Hemingway to improve his own writing technique. You might not want to take it to that extreme, but studying good writers by writing down passages will make you a better writer. Then write your way.
Need more inspiration for writing practice? Check out these links:
- Writing Prompts Can Help You Write: The What, The Why and The How at The Reflective Writer
- Ten Reasons Why You Should Use Writing Prompts from Archetype Writing
- Why You Should Write Regularly (warning: strong language) over at Zen and the Art of Not Writing
and for a different viewpoint…