Two days ago I clicked the thumbs-up icon on a Facebook post regarding practice, writing, and the practice of writing. (Thank you, Susie.) Apparently, great writing is achieved by hour after hour of actual writing: continual and repeated, trial and error, failure and success.
Yesterday with this idea percolating in my brain, I ran across a blog called The Write Practice. (Thank you, Joe Bunting.) The first assignment in Bunting’s e-book, 14 Prompts, was to write for thirty minutes about a time when I felt awkward and out of place in a new situation. I was not to simply describe my feelings but to project them on to the things around me. It was the classic writer’s dilemma: show, don’t tell. My choice for the task was thirty minutes of free style writing about the awkwardness of being creative on-demand. I had no chance to backspace, highlight and delete, or re-write.
Today I looked back at the four pages of blue ink on white paper that I had produced. My first reaction was that I’m developing old-lady handwriting, and that I press down so hard that the impression from the pen on one side of the pages almost obscures the inked words on the other. My second reaction was that the wild, messy script looks like it came from a deranged person. I’ll have to make sure that I provide a preamble explaining the assignment so that my family doesn’t get nervous.
According to Malcom Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. So, if I subscribe to the prompts provided by The Write Practice and write for thirty minutes each day, it will only take me 53.7945205 years for me to get it right. I like Ms Peskowitz’s calculations much better.
“Forget perfection on the first try. In the face of frustration, your best tool is a few deep breaths and remembering that you can do anything once you’ve practiced it two hundred times.” Miriam Peskowitz, The Daring Book for Girls.