I’m reading a book called Talent is Overrated, in which the author espouses the benefits of deliberate practice. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently, wondering where I’m going in my writerly career and trying to decide what I have to do.
Apparently a lot.
There are a bunch of great examples in the book about what ‘practice’ really is. Basically, it boils down to working really hard at what you need to improve. Let’s say you can write a novel really fast, great. Speed is not what you need to work on. And, along with the speed, I would guess that you’ve managed to out run your heckler pretty well. Again, editing as you go, probably not what you need to work on.
How’s your characterization? Dialogue? Then it takes practice–and let’s not forget a lot of it–to accomplish any kind of mastery.
Then there’s the idea that deliberate practice is not fun. It’s work. You have to enjoy writing, or music or sports or whatever, before the deliberate practice works because you’re invested in doing well. You need to be willing to do the work in order to improve. You can write and write and write but without focused concentration, it won’t get better. The average for true mastery, according to this book, was about three hours a day. But don’t try to do it all at once…you lose concentration after about an hour and then you are just spinning your wheels.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting. And now my blog-writing skills are tapped.
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.