Yes, practicing won’t write your short story.
You’re right, a writing exercise isn’t going to get your memoir finished.
If you read and do the practice and the end of each post, are you going to be one step closer to finishing your novel? No, not really. At least not in the way you’re thinking.
Why practice then?
Jungle Ball versus the Olympics
Every once in a while, my friend Paul drags me out to play “beach” volleyball. He invites everyone. We show up in flip flops and gym shorts, but not bathing suits because we live in the mountains in Georgia and the “beach” is a big pit full of imported sand. Soon, it’s five on five and we start to play.
Now, if you have ever seen Misty May and Kerri Walsh play volleyball, then you know the kind of beach volleyball you play with ten or twelve of your friends is not the same sport. When I played volleyball in college, we called this kind “jungle ball,” because it’s crazy. Balls flying everywhere, no control, people didn’t know what they were doing. Back then, I wouldn’t play jungle ball because it was too frustrating. Jungle ball was for novices, and my teammates and I weren’t novices.
We had spent hours in the gym training. We had learned the game the hard way, through practice. A couple hours a day everyday for about eight years. I spent over 3,000 hours learning to play volleyball.
Then, there’s Misty May and Kerri Walsh. Practice was their life long before they played a professional game. About eight hours a day since they were kids (both started learning the sport young). By the time they got into college, where they were both All-Americans, I’m sure they had practiced for over 10,000 hours.
But Why Practice Writing
No, practicing writing won’t get your novel finished. If you want to finish your novel, you will have to work on your novel.
But how long is that going to take? A year? A couple of years? And what happens when it’s done? Do you think it’s going to get published? The unfortunate reality is it’s probably not.
Agents and editors who read thousands of manuscripts a year say they can tell when an author hasn’t discovered their voice, their own unique way of writing, in the first pages of a manuscript, sometimes in the first paragraph.
In other words, it’s obvious who is playing jungle ball and who is playing the kind of ball Misty May and Kerri Walsh play.
Pros practice. Amateurs play.
Pros are in the gym training. Amateurs are in the couch watching TV.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May are out there, right now, on the beach working on their game.
What are you doing?
We’ve put out a lot of great opportunities to practice to work your writing muscles. Today, go practice on one or two of them. Here are a few of our favorites: