Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

Great Writers PracticeThis is Day 4 in the Great Writers Series. Follow along on Facebook for additional resources and discussion.

Real writers practice. They show up, every day, without excuse or complaint (okay maybe some complaint). This is the work of a professional.

I’m not talking about rehearsal. I’m talking about doing what musicians and boxers and lion tamers all do in order to get ready for their work. To become awesome at their crafts.

They practice in public

In other words, they perform. They go to work. Get stuff done. They stop stalling and playing around and actually do the stuff.

Writing should be no different. You should be no different.

Okay, this is it. No more dress rehearsals or dialogue. No more coffee dates to commiserate with your peers. Enough talking; start doing.

Time to get to work. Show us what you got.

The challenge

Find a way to practice in public. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pitch a magazine you want to write for. Follow some of the templates in You Are a Writer. This article might help, too.
  • Ask a friend (or stranger) to guest post on his/her blog. Here’s another useful post.
  • Publish something on your blog you’ve never shared with anyone. Take a risk (we’ll be doing more of this soon).
  • Submit that book proposal. Don’t “work on it.” Finish it. Send it off. And say a little prayer.

Whatever you do, don’t do nothing

I know that’s a double negative, but it’s worth breaking a rule for. Nothing is the worst thing you can do. Because it’s passive. And writing is active. It requires your fully conscious self. You need to show up and show us your gift.

Until you do that, you’re just practicing in private. Playing around. Kidding yourself. Don’t do that. It’s time to put your work out there — not because you’ll succeed. Quite the opposite, in fact. You’ll probably fail. And in the failure you can learn.

So do it. Now. Today. Fail fast, and then tell us what you learned. This will be messy, no question about it. That’s okay. Because practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes habits.

Bonus tool: If you need some help putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), grab this writing worksheet with six exercises to help you.

What does practice look like for you? Share in the comments.