3 Crucial Steps That Will Improve Bad Writing

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Today’s post is written by Jeff Goins. Jeff is the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. His award-winning blog, Goinswriter.com, is visited by millions of people every year.

Not all writing practice means working on your latest work-in-progress. You can become a better writer by completing writing lessons or creative writing exercises, or by partaking in daily practice sessions—all of which you can find here on the Write Practice blog.

deliberate practice writing

Deliberate writing practice is the foundation of The Write Practice. Deliberate practice writing can take your writing process to the next level.

If you want to meet your writing potential in life, you have to write. Just like basketball players spend hours shooting free throws so that they don't choke when it counts in a game, writers need to ingrain a type of practice that works for their writing process into their DNA.

In this article, you'll learn a writing practice that will help you develop a regular routine of practice to improve your creative writing skills.

Bad Practice—and the Illusion of Practice—Don't Create Expert-Level Performance

Stephanie Fisher had come a long way from her hometown of Jamestown, New York, to Augusta, Georgia, but this was her dream and she wouldn’t give it up. The year was 2010, and it was her seventh time auditioning for American Idol.

She had never made it this far in the singing talent show, but this time, things were going to be different. This time, she would see the judges.

Dressed in a silvery sequined top, donning pearls around her neck and fishnet stockings, Stephanie stepped onto the platform of America’s most popular talent show, smiling nervously before the judges.

“Wow,” a couple of them said, remarking on her outfit.

“I almost wore the same thing,” Randy joked.

Simon rolled his eyes, obviously annoyed.

“Okay,” Kara said, “let’s hear it.”

In her black and white oxfords, Stephanie spread her feet apart as if to ready herself, and she opened with Peggy Lee’s “Fever.”

At this point, Stephanie was snapping her fingers and provocatively staring down the judges, who were audibly groaning. Her rhythm was off, the notes were wrong, and everyone on the set knew it, including Stephanie. They told her to stop. She frowned.

“Thank you, Stephanie,” Simon said.

“What did you think?” Kara asked.

“Terrible. Honestly, you can’t sing, sweetheart.”

Stephanie admitted to being a little starstruck in the presence of Victoria Beckham, who was a guest judge that day. Later she told a reporter this was something the producers told her to say. Victoria offered to turn around in hopes that it would make the contestant feel more at ease. Stephanie accepted the offer, which felt forced and a little too theatrical for me.

The young grad student started again, a little more awkwardly, this time singing “Baby Love” by The Supremes. It wasn’t any better. After a measure or two, Victoria turned back around. This time Kara added to the critical jabs, saying it was better when she was looking. Another burst of laughter erupted from the judges.

“With the greatest respect,” Simon said in a proper British accent, pausing for dramatic effect, “you have a horrible voice.”

“Really?” Stephanie said, looking stunned but still smiling nervously. All the preparation, all those long years of dreaming, had led to this?

“Yeah,” Randy chimed sympathetically. “You ain’t got it goin’ on.”

“You can’t give me a few minutes to get un-nervous?” she pleaded.

“We’d need years, Stephanie,” Simon said, and the judges again all laughed in unison. And as I watched the YouTube video recounting this painful story years after the fact, I realized how true that was.

It’s Not Just About Trying

Our parents told us to try our best. Whether at school or Little League, we were encouraged to give it our all, and that was enough to make them proud.

But the truth is there are different kinds of trying. Anders Ericsson has been studying this for years and in his book Peak, he’s come to a surprising conclusion: not all effort is equal.

Stephanie Fisher had been practicing singing for years. She’d been trying. But the 10,000-hour rule, at least as far as she understood it, had not worked. What was she doing wrong?

The answer, according to Ericsson, lies in what he calls deliberate practice.

In his recent book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, he says that when you embrace the deliberate-practice mindset,

. . . anyone can improve, but it requires the right approach. If you are not improving, it’s not because you lack innate talent; it’s because you’re not practicing the right way.

So what is the right way to practice? Deliberate practice requires the following:

  • You must push yourself past your comfort zone and attempt things that are not easy for you.
  • You must get immediate feedback on the activity you are practicing and on what you can do to improve it.
  • You must identify the best people in your field and find out what sets them apart, then practice like they do.

If you’re not doing these things, you’re not really practicing. At least, not in the way that is going to lead to excellence.

The Secrets to Writing Like Hemingway

When Ernest Hemingway was living in Paris in the 1920s, he received an exceptional education in writing, a unique opportunity he may not have even been aware of.

Every day, he would get up and go to a cafe, where he would write for a few hours. First, he’d edit the previous day’s work, a discipline he developed that influenced his style for the rest of his life. Unlike many other authors at the time, he was constantly tightening his prose, trying to make it cleaner, shorter, better.

In the afternoons, he would visit his friends in the Latin Quarter, people like Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound. They would critique his writing, give him feedback on what he was doing right and what he was doing wrong. Then he would apply what he learned.

This was an incredible opportunity, but it wasn’t an accident. Hemingway was born in Chicago, and after a brief stint in the Red Cross during WWI, he wandered for a while, trying to find his way in life. It was author Sherwood Anderson who encouraged him to move to Paris where “the most interesting people in the world lived.”

So he did, and nearly seven years later, when his informal apprenticeship was over, he had learned the discipline of deliberate practice.

Challenge Yourself to Deliberate Practice

If you want to do the same, you must:

  1. Push yourself in your practice. In my book The Art of Work, I call this painful practice, because it might hurt a little. That’s what happens every time we go outside our comfort zone.
  2. Seek out critical feedback. We live in the age of inflated egos when most people are afraid to give their honest opinions. But in order to become a truly great writer, you will need people in your life to tell you, “you can do better.”
  3. Seek out the greats and learn their secrets. You don’t have to move to Paris, but you need to find prominent writers in your genre, living or dead, and find out how they do what they do.

The truth is there are people who have a natural ability when it comes to writing, but this is incredibly rare. If you want to get better at writing, you need to construct some  writing goals for you this year, and then develop some practice plans that will help you develop good, deliberate practice writing habits.

More and more, science is proving that what we used to call talent is really just hard work that pushes you to a level of performance that you hadn't previously attained.

When was the last time you practiced something deliberately? What did you learn? Share in the comments!

PRACTICE

For the next fifteen minutes, push yourself in this writing practice session. Partaking in today's writing practice is a great first step to move from passive learning to active learning—and maybe it will motivate you to write down some practice goals for this week, this month, and this year.

To do this: Think of one real life adventure story from your past and write about it.

When you're done, share your story in the practice box below—and make sure to give feedback on another writer's submission—and then ask them to give feedback on your writing piece so we can all practice more deliberately.

Enter your practice here:

Jeff Goins's newest book, Real Artists Don't Starve, debunks the myth of the starving artist and replaces it with timeless strategies for artistic thriving. You can get your copy here.

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95 Comments

  1. Miko

    The last time I deliberately practiced was when I really, really wanted to learn how to draw. I spent days watching YouTube videos which essentially gave me the same advice on deliberate practice, and eventually, after watching those videos, I actually deliberately practiced. I started drawing everything around me, no longer caring if I was interested in drawing it. Once I had an idea for something to draw as well, I just drew it, giving it my best shot and immediately stepping back and reviewing it with hard, cold eyes. I can now draw faces fairly well. I can draw bodies as well, even if they all have a tendency to be super skinny.
    At the moment though I can tell I’m not doing deliberate practice anymore. All my characters look too similar. Every face I draw looks the same as any other for the most part.

    And it took me reading this article to realize that was the problem with my lack of inspiration. I need to deliberately practice making thicker, more realistic body proportions, I need to practice varying facial structures, and I need to deliberately practice drawing in different styles.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Tina

      I don’t know that much about drawing (any more); but I can tell you that my recent practice HAS the two lovers (main characters) bantering. I just realized they both sound to my own mind’s ear SOOOO similar in their repartee. But my character Krisha Gordon, the protagonist, is supposed to be the one—the only—blatantly commitment-phobic one of the two (a female commitment phobe—but in a big city and she has a (to her) stressful job) … Because they are both middle-aged, cosmopolitan, attractive and uh, lower-middle class … they sound snide and too-similar to each other. Comic romance has its challenges.

      Reply
    • Mike Van Leuken

      If you haven’t done so yet, look into how faces and bodies are proportioned. There are certain things to look for. For example, the corners of the mouth generally line up with the pupils, bottom of ears generally line up with the mouth – things like that. Also consider buying or borrowing a book like “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. This is a great book for learning to draw what you see. It is also worth stepping away from your drawing frequently so you can try and look it objectively. Doing that can often reveal where you’re getting a bit off and can still make corrections. Often trying to make corrections when the drawing is done is too late.

      Reply
  2. Reagan Colbert

    I could really relate to this article, Jeff, for several reasons. One was that I also tried and failed at a singing audition for America’s Got Talent (Didn’t get as far as the judges, however). I spent months practicing for it, but it didn’t go anywhere
    It didn’t crush me though, because for four YEARS, I had been deliberately practicing what I now realize is my true calling: writing. That is something I have deliberately practiced every day since I was fourteen, reading, writing horrible things that I slowly transformed into bearable pieces, seeking honest feedback online, and never giving up or stopping.
    I sought out the experts, and in the end narrowed it down to 2 – The one who write this post and the one who posted it – you, Jeff, and the Write Practice. By practicing on here I gained my greatest knowledge of all things fiction writing, and because of almost five years of practicing, I was able to publish my first book and actually have a blog.

    I still practice, and I know I’ll never stop learning. But God really has shown me what I’m meant to do, and practice is what has gotten me this far. As always, you’ve given us an awesome and though-provoking read, Jeff!

    Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      Love this, Reagan! Thanks for sharing. And thank you so much. That means a lot to me. Keep practicing!

      Reply
    • Jeanne Frost

      Reagan your writing encourages me to keep on practicing. I am looking forward to publishing my first book soon. It is a fictional story I have been working on for several years now. I have lots to learn about the process of self publishing. Thank you Reagan and thank you Jeff Goins for providing a place to write with others and get good feedback. The Write Practice is a wonderful space you have provided for us.

      Reply
  3. Julie Mayerson Brown

    I love this: “The truth is natural born talent, if it exists at all, is incredibly rare. More and more, science is proving that what we used to call talent is really just hard work.”
    Thanks for the most important advice any artist in any medium must heed.

    Reply
  4. Joyce Hague

    Where does one find these people who will willingly look at what you’ve written and give honest feedback? I attend a writer’s group, but that’s only once a month. Maybe another writer who also needs honest feedback?

    Reply
    • Tina

      The one free writers’ group in my locality, had disbanded about 8 months ago. It’s been a few years, additionally, since the library ever had a free writers’ group.

      Reply
      • Corrie Ann Gray

        Why don’t you start one Tina? I’m sure you can find other interested writers. Post a notice in the library and see what happens.

        Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      That sounds great, Joyce. Also, let’s not forget, this is precisely what The Write Practice is: a place where writers can share their work and get feedback.

      Reply
    • collie

      I have started one and already it’s falling apart. You just have to keep trying. bring things they can learn. ask what they want from a group.

      Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      Joyce, your writer’s group sounds like a great place to start. And I’m glad you’re here with us at The Write Practice. As Jeff says, this is a place for writers to share their work and get feedback. You might be surprised how much helpful feedback you’ll get by posting practices in the comments section.

      It also sounds like you’d be a great fit for Becoming Writer, our premium writing community. In Becoming Writer, you can share one writing piece of any kind each week and give and receive feedback within our active and supportive community. You can learn more here: https://thewritepractice.com/members/join/ And if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

      You might also look for other online writing communities, like Facebook groups (I think Jeff shared one in a comment below). And you may find other writers in the comments sections of The Write Practice articles who can become writing partners and give you more critique.

      I’m glad you’re seeking out feedback—it’s an integral part of growing as a writer and producing excellent work. I hope you find the community you’re looking for.

      Reply
      • SC

        Hi Alice, in the premium site, is the weekly feedback from experts/established and published writers, apart from other aspiring writers? And for publication (with the publisher access that you provide), can we enter the same pieces that we offer up for critiquing?

        Reply
        • Alice Sudlow

          Hi SC, in Becoming Writer you’ll get feedback from both aspiring writers and experts/published writers.

          All members are asked to critique three of their fellow writers’ pieces each week. This helps you learn to identify the strengths and weaknesses in others’ writing, which in turn enables you to identify them in your own. And you may be surprised by how helpful the advice you’ll receive from peers is.

          In addition, we have a team of dedicated moderators who are writing experts and published authors themselves. Our moderators ensure that every post receives valuable feedback.

          We actually encourage you to submit for publication the pieces you get critiqued in the workshop. Becoming Writer is like an online writer’s group meant to spur you onward, help you grow as a writer, and help you polish your writing until it shines. We want to help you make your writing the best it can be, and why wouldn’t you offer up your best work for publication?

          Please let me know if you have any more questions!

          Reply
          • SC

            Thanks for your reply, Alice!

  5. john hutson

    The book The Talent Code was the most beneficial book for me.
    on Deliberate Practice.

    Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      I loved that book. He called it “Deep Practice,” I think. So good.

      Reply
  6. Jeanne Frost

    I can tell from the start this will be fun and very helpful. I would love feedback.

    Newly married and only nineteen years old I had to begin learning quickly to cook. Homemade scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese and several ways to cook eggs were the only things I knew how to make from scratch. Luckily my husband liked hamburger and I was inventive. I practiced many ways of cooking with ground beef till I got it down. Casseroles of all kinds appeared on the table for dinner.

    Then came practice making bread. Interested in healthy food, I decided to learn to make my own bread. Practice raising the bread, kneading and baking became a fun hobby for me and my children learned how to bake along with me. We made anadama bread, soda bread, french bread and sourdough. At Christmas time we make dozens of gingerbread men and gave them to friends and family as fast as we could make them.

    My cookbook shelf was filling up as I practiced making soups, appetizers, all kinds of salads and learned how to marinate many different ways. I was the barbecue master with white wine marinated chicken.

    My children all learned to cook at an early age intrigued by the fun I was having in the kitchen. They all became great cooks. One son is a terrific chef at home and one of my grandsons is now a very well known Chef. Practice made perfect fun for us all.

    Reply
    • Tina

      Wow … this! If this is all true about you, this is so well written. Now, I’m in no way hinting at your inviting me to try your recipes (I cook more than just a little). Hey, if it’s fiction, then my mouth is watering already … imagination influences taste.

      Reply
      • Jeanne Frost

        Thank you Tina! True story about me growing up with my kids! I appreciate your feedback very much. I have written short stories, longer stories and have lots of material for a memoir now. I love writing. jf

        Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      This is very cool. Thank you for sharing, Jeanne.

      Reply
      • Jeanne Frost

        Jeff, it was fun to write.

        Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      I love this, Jeanne! I’m currently practicing cooking, so this is very inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  7. Jeffrey Wong

    When I was reading this and saw the words ‘deliberate practice’ I immediately thought about my martial arts background.

    I’ve been training for two decades now in a plethora of styles ranging from Wushu and Taekwondo to Brazilian Jujitsu and Bajiquan, a form of Chinese kung-fu. Despite the length of time I practised, I never achieved any notable results. Always, it seemed, I would fall short.

    The conclusion was that I was too lazy, that I wasn’t training enough. Recently though, one of my greatest mentors and perhaps my most intelligent coach showed me that I was only half right. While I always worked on developing my body and its mechanics, I never put any time into developing my mind. From studying the tape of greats like Petrosyan and Ali to really just thinking about why I took each action in a fight as well as well as what the potential results of each action would be, suddenly my eyes had opened.

    Fighting was not just a chaotic dervish of fists and feet. It was more akin to a chessboard for the mind with my limbs as its chess-pieces. I had to think multiple moves ahead. How could I establish — and re-establish — control of distance? How would my opponent react to one thing or another, and how could I exploit that later in the match?

    It was like suddenly coming to the realisation that the world was not flat, but round.

    Reply
    • Jeanne Frost

      I learned a lot from your writing. Great ending!

      Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      Beautiful. Lots of parallels between martial arts and “the” arts.

      Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      I love this—both the martial arts comparison and your beautiful reflection on it. I particularly like the line, “Fighting was not just a chaotic dervish of fists and feet.” A very well-expressed elaboration on deliberate practice. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  8. Moxie Jane

    The first time I can say I practiced was a time I can’t really recall. Not because I practiced so much, but because I practiced so little. Inherently lazy. No, inherently distracted.
    The result was that I never truly learned anything, and it has caught up to me. Now employed in a full time job, my lack of retention of the material demanded for the position has me 3 months away from termination.
    Termination feels pretty eminent. An extended period of probation and a scathing performance review, strangely, has me feeling quite liberated. Liberated of telling myself to practice something I loathed for a pay check. It also leaves me with an anxiety. A sharp anxiety, but not so different than the one I feel in the position that does not suit me.
    My entire life I have been telling myself to do just enough to give the impression that I am doing more than that. It worked for a while. Until the exterior dressing fell just enough to reveal the emptiness of what I now recognize as actual nothing.
    I like words. I enjoy stringing them together. Sometimes I am proud of the result. Other times I am bored and frustrated. What would be the point anyways?
    The point now, is to find something that I find worth doing. Not because it is worthy, but because it is fulfilling.
    Put the bread on the table my dear. No luxury to bat around here.
    Writing might be a bad investment, but it sure does soothe time.
    There, I practiced…

    Reply
    • Jean Blanchard

      Hi, Moxie Jane, I know all about that one. I love the last three lines, especially ‘There, I practiced …’

      Reply
      • Moxie Jane

        Some kind of weird loop, life can be

        Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      Love it! And yes, it sure does soothe time.

      Reply
    • Luanna Pierce

      I especially liked the last three lines also and chuckled at “There, I practiced.” I felt the exact same way writing my submission to this article. Of late I have not found writing to soothe time, but with more practice perhaps it will.

      Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      Like other commenters, I love the last three lines. Your honesty and vulnerability is powerful. I hope you are able to devote yourself to something fulfilling. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  9. LaCresha Lawson

    Very good. Thank you. I get inspired more and more everyday.

    Reply
  10. Jason

    I think i might need to get creative writing lesson to improve my writing.

    Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      There’s a lot of great resources here on this site, Jason. I would start there!

      Reply
  11. Jean Blanchard

    Thank you for this post. Here’s my Practice.

    ‘Gawky’ was how my ballet teacher described me. I knew it anyway. My legs and arms just aren’t co-ordinated. But what I found in the ballet class was that I could do funny walks and make an idiot of myself. In the end the ballet teacher asked my mother to take my sister, who was co-ordinated and really was quite talented, to classes, but to leave me at home.

    Then at school in all my reports my teachers said I was spasmodic: sometimes I could/would work and sometimes I couldn’t/wouldn’t. My problem today is, well, it’s not really a problem as such, is not having tried, I am still gawky and still spasmodic in my work.

    Recently, I was persuaded by a friend to go to ballet exercise classes. I still don’t know where my arms and legs are going. In other words, I am still gawky. When I sit down to write sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t. I’ve been going to ballet exercise for six weeks and trying. Why the hell can’t I point my right foot backwards, my right arm forwards and look over my right shoulder at the same time, I just don’t know; but I almost did it yesterday! What’s more, I’m kind of beginning to enjoy it.

    Writing is different, though; I do enjoy writing and now I’m practicing both ballet and writing I’m not feeling quite so gawky or spasmodic. My teachers should never have used those cruel words because I think, now that I am a senior citizen, that I developed a mindset over the years, and they governed what I thought about myself and my abilities and, perhaps, weren’t true anyway.

    Reply
    • collie

      Very beautiful. I would love to read more about ‘Childhood’ more about how you got to ballet class, how you felt there, and a specific recounting of an incident. It’s a beautiful story.

      Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      I’m so glad you’ve gotten back into ballet exercise and writing. You’re right to say that the things people say about us impact the way we think about ourselves. Their effects can be dangerous, especially because they’re often not true. But as you practice, you’ll overcome the shortcomings that initially held you back—or perhaps you’ll find ways to turn them to your advantage, so they’re not shortcomings at all. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!

      Reply
  12. Lee

    You make the point that we should seek out critical feedback. Many people say that we should connect with Facebook groups. Do you agree wit this?
    Have you got any other ideas?

    Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      Seeking out feedback is an essential step to improving your skills. That’s one reason why we encourage our readers to share writing practices in the comments section of posts on The Write Practice. You’ll get feedback from other writers, and you’ll be able to give them feedback on their work, too.

      If you’re interested in getting more involved in a writing community, I’d encourage you to check out Becoming Writer: https://thewritepractice.com/members/join/ Here, you can share more of your writing and get more specific feedback. (You’ll also get publishing opportunities and other resources, which is pretty nifty.)

      Jeff’s suggestion of a Facebook group also sounds like a great resource. And of course, don’t overlook the community you have around you. You might try posting a notice at your local library and starting a writing group with other writers in your area.

      I hope you get involved in a community that will give you meaningful feedback and help you grow!

      Reply
  13. collie

    Arrgh I hated reading this. Every day..most days, 8 of 10 I write. But I am not editing the previous work till i have the full story written and perhaps that is a mistake. Sometimes it’s easy sometimes it’s hard. I don’t write a lot. I have read advice on just two pages a day. I don’t really set a limit but I get tired quickly. I have so much to write and yet life bills and relationships etc; often take over. This has been a hugely challenging read. It’s very challenging to get feedback. I have asked a lot of people. No go. Anyway, time to open the files and start writing. I would have thought all writing was deliberate.

    He looked down the comments on the page. He saw that people had written about four or five paragraphs. He didn’t imagine that was fifteen minutes of practice to do that. He didn’t want to write about practice, he wanted to write about his book. He could hear voices outside, and figured the old woman was being picked up for her day out. She would come in a disturb him before he could get into his flow. On cue she opened the door to talk him and then walked away leaving the door opened. It irritated him. The cool air rushed in and the noise of the van waiting outside distracted him. It would take a matter of minutes before every calmed down again and he could get his rhythm back.
    Practice makes perfect he had been told. Deliberate practice. Surely, he thought to himself all writing was deliberate. It was not as if he was a medium with a pencil in his hand involved in all sorts of automatic writing.
    He cast his mind back to when he was in school and how he took up the whole English class at the age of fourteen, asking the teacher how to be a writer. If he traced his path it was inevitable he would be one. All the books he read, all the poems he had written. He written short stories and plays for language classes in school. He had written liturgical pieces and even a full play that was slated by the one critic who bothered to come see it. It didn’t matter. It was all practice. It was all somehow bringing him to this point.
    His practice had finally allowed himself to say out loud he was a writer. It was important. He had a short piece published on a website about love. He had lyrics published by musicians on their CD’s. All that was required now was more practice and then a publishing deal. Why shouldn’t he make a living at it? It was true not many writers made a living from their practice but he was better. He would do it. He would write every day until the stories were finished. He would then edit them. He would send them off to publishers and as usual he would get the rejections. Even these were practice. Reading the polite non committal thanks but no, allowed him to prepare for the one yes. It was all that was needed. One person to see his genius, one person to have faith in his ability, to have a belief in his practice. One person who could organise the contract so he could live.
    Fifteen minutes he saw was shorter than he imagined. He hesitated now, not sure where to bring it to next. He wondered would he get feedback, and if he did, what type of feedback it would be. This was what he should be focusing on in life, not his lover, or his bank balance. He should just focus on telling his stories. The rest would happen if he had faith in himself and the universe.
    So he decided that after working it all out in his head, that deliberate practice meant not stopping so easily. Deliberate practice meant pushing through the fear, and the blockages. Deliberate practice meant what he had thought, write. Write intentionally every day with a goal. To get the next step finished. Writing was like a muscle he supposed. He had to practice to make it stronger and bigger and eventually he would be able to flex those muscles and lift some prize and impress himself with his ability. Telling his stories and holding them in his hands, reading his name, he knew was something he wanted as much as anything in life. His pc was his workout room. The keys and his fingers were the weight machines. As long as he kept them moving the fuel would come from his brain and he would be a better writer today than he had been yesterday. That was perhaps all he could ask for.
    He noticed he was a minute or two over the practice time. So he stopped. It was not an easy thing to do.

    Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      8/10 days is amazing dedication! Good for you, Collie!

      Reply
      • collie

        Thanks Jeff

        Reply
      • collie

        But I can’t even get feed back here 🙂

        Reply
    • Stella

      Love the analogy of the PC being your workout room and the keys and fingers your weight machines. I think your writing gets more compelling as it goes on. The first part of your piece is musing on your surroundings, your history as a writer, your fears and anxieties, but the strongest and most original part is the second last paragraph. Your steel and determination to overcome all these challenges.

      If stopping wasn’t easy to do, perhaps you should go on! I’ve often found too that my best and most relaxed writing comes after I’ve been writing for a while. Takes time to get into the flow.

      Reply
  14. Katya Hvass

    Thank you for your thoughts, Jeff. Below are my contemplations on the subject.

    ‘It feels to me that we often think to too much about writing as a technical ability, and not enough about this whole other process that needs to happen before we can ever contemplate sitting down in front of a Word document or a sheet of paper…

    Perhaps it not really about how we write, but what we right, and where our message is coming from…

    I am talking about living and being, about gathering experiences, impressions, thoughts, feelings through paying attention to the world around us, as well as unveiling of our own deep authenticity and sincerity…

    We can intentionally create a nurturing environment in our lives by welcoming inspirational experiences, quiet contemplation and self-acceptance… It is akin to meditation – paying attention on purpose… We give ourselves time to immerse into the flow of things and then listen patiently to our inner voice to see what emerges as a result…

    It is about being vulnerable, combating fears and summoning courage to share… It is also about knowing that our message is unique and important, which is only the case when we are true to ourselves.

    Allowing the emergence of authentic content while perfecting of the mechanical skill – without compromising one or the other- is a fine and difficult balance to maintain with any creative occupation.

    It is important, though, not to overlook this whole stage of preparation for writing – which the life itself!’

    K 🙂

    Reply
      • Katya Hvass

        It is a beautiful piece, Jeff, that resonated deeply with me. K 🙂

        Reply
  15. I'm determined

    Seek out critical feedback. sure, if adn when I can find someone to comply. Throughout my life -domestic violence – parents, husband etc – put me down. would boast about my competencies to others, I found out much later. Up to the here and now, I can write. I’ve been writing since I was 12. Good writing, not so good, but I’ve worked at it, improved over the years. Only, how to find someone who will give the time to consider my work, to give honest, critical feedback? Instead of looking at my white hair (started coming in when I was 20 y/o new mother) and dismissing me as useless?
    I’m still determined to get there.

    Reply
    • Jeff Goins

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I think this community here, at the Write Practice, is a great place to get critical, but not overly critical, feedback. I think finding a writing partner amongst the thousands of people who gather here every day would be a good place to start!

      Reply
    • collie

      Hey I will read your stuff and give you honest critical feedback. I figure if I do for you, someone will do it for me.

      Reply
    • collie

      Not sure how to find each other through this site mind you ….

      Reply
    • Tina

      Hey, I’d paid gobs of money for a writers’ feedback group, once—in fact, a legendary one in NYC—that spawned a couple bestselling authors (whether they are “one-hit wonders”, I know not, as I have no interest in following bestseller lists). All that came out of it was, new knowledge of what topics turn “younger generations” on (yeah, gray-haired younger Boomer in the house) and I being secure in the knowledge of having been told (by a participant—did you think I was referring to the instructor?) that I “should hire a ghostwriter”.

      Now, did I need to hear that? Not really. Hey, I get it. I’m a bad writer. I took to trying to think of how I could “package” my book, instead of write it. But I could use some of that “younger generation” irony to fuel some of my writing, wherever it goes from here … bad, good or indifferent.

      Reply
      • Mike Van Leuken

        How do you know you’re a bad writer? Voice and what you are trying to say is very important and can often cut across all demographics. Perhaps all you need to do is investigate things like varying sentence length, cutting extraneous words and moving towards more active wording is all that is needed. Again, how do YOU know you are a bad writer?

        Reply
        • Tina

          Mike and I’m determined: … I’ve had trouble with the “show, don’t tell” rule of thumb; and my writing will veer off into the dense bush jungles of TMI-land … It really is sentence length and more. One could try to make sense of a paragraph I write (or even dialog). My actual voice as a writer was and has been underneath all that stuff.

          I’ve been out of school a long time, but I’d loved school and I write as if these are term papers.

          Reply
          • Mike Van Leuken

            You may have diagnosed the issue and don’t know it. As an exercise you may want to take a portion of some existing writing and slash it to the bone. Be ruthless and take out all the extra words that don’t belong. This might end up going to the other extreme (too sparse and dry) but then at least you can work in more words and reach a happy middle ground.

            The problem I see with a lot of writing is that appears as if the writer is still writing a term paper. Even instructions get to be long-winded. A big part of feedback is reward. When we wrote papers in school we were rewarded if our essays reached the word target and punished if it did not. Content sometimes seemed to be a secondary consideration. IMO: this a big problem with the education system is more emphasis on word count than on content.

            In college my business writing professor liked my short and to the point style and told me so. Being rewarded like that, I tend to still go short and to the point decades later.

          • Tina

            The other principle encouraged by the traditional education system: “never trust your first answer”. In writing, it is just the opposite; trust what does come into your head easily and fast. Then put it down, sifting out the unnecessary pieces as you go along.
            Great designers know this adage:

            “Releasing what’s unnecessary; and adding in what’s lacking.”
            Do this with every sentence you write, every single day … and you’ve soon got a work of architecture …

          • Mike Van Leuken

            You know what you’re doing (and have to do), Tina. I’m Determined’s last word of their reply is apt: Trust. Trust your instincts and trust you can do this. I still say practicing at paring down existing writing – maybe even trying some poetry which demands economy of words – is a worth-while exercise. I’m also willing to read some of your work and provide feedback.

      • I'm determined

        Do you really think that those younger – hire a ghostwriter – members could actually write themselves? It takes – can take – a long time, a lot of ractice to get there. I think now and then of Elizabeth Jolley, and the long time it tooko to get her publishing ascendancy. And she is a very good writer. sometimes I wonder if we need to wait and watch for the readership to catch up with us. Keep trying, Tina, and Trust.

        Reply
  16. Monica

    My daughter used to train with an Olympic ice skating coach. The whole family learned from watching his process with her. He made her come off the ice if she got stuck in a rut doing something wrong. He said it would take 300 repeats to undo what her brain learned wrong and it was better to call it quits for the day and let her brain off the hook. She came back to it the next day and always did it better. She only had to quit a couple of times, but the lesson made her precise in her practice – always trying to improve just a little with each attempt. The goal wasn’t perfection in the first try– that would have been destructive and would have given her inner critic the lead role. Instead, she was encouraged and inspired by the idea of doing it just a little bit right-er. That meant the practice was intensely intelligent. She was forced to think through every move she made in order to learn. She loved it. It wasn’t just that she did develop perfect form, but she was a changed person. She applies this principle to everything she does now. And she does some incredible things.

    Reply
    • Stella

      Love this. As an ingrained perfectionist, it’s really hard for me to let go of the need to get things right on the first try. It’s not healthy, because it makes me avoid things if I think I won’t get them right immediately. This is good advice – to quit strategically, and to always focus on getting it a little bit right-er!

      Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      This is great advice! Beating our inner critic is hard, but I love how your daughter’s skating coach taught her to recognize when to quit and come back later. And I appreciate the idea of just trying to do something a little bit right-er this time than the last. Thank you for sharing her experience!

      Reply
  17. Steve

    I am a professional musician. And a writer in the early stages. But I have the experience from my music practice to carry into my writing practice. Why I didn’t realize the two are the same chapter in different books, I don’t know. But I know now. Thank you Jeff, for making me realize that today.

    I have been practicing music since I was 8 years old. I taught myself piano. Practice back then was a joy and not a chore, so I practiced a lot. Then came the trumpet and my first structured practice. I was introduced to discipline in the formal sense. And I fought it. But as I saw progress I felt a spark that ignited into a flame that became a roaring fire. Fast forward 10,000 hours later and I was a professional trumpet player touring with a band. But other instruments came into play during college. That’s okay. I knew the drill. Discipline, practicing with form, format, and intention. Butt in chair. It worked for the bass, the bagpipes, the guitar, the violin. Point is, I found something I loved to do and then purposefully set about practicing with the intention of becoming a master of whatever I focused on. And thanks to you Jeff, I am taking that same commitment I have with my music and applying it to my writing. Just like my music. Butt in chair. Make some foul noises at the beginning knowing they will eventually turn into something beautiful.

    Reply
  18. BellCindyM

    I really enjoyed this article. It’s a slightly different take on deliberate practice for writing than what I’ve come up with and so I’ll need to add some critiques to my list. I currently use Scribophile but y’alls Becoming Writer program looks great as well.

    Oddly enough, Gold Fame Citrus landed me on my deliberate practice schedule. I started reading it two weeks ago and fell into a slump. It’s not that the book captivated me (although it has won recognition in a saturated market), but the author clearly had her own voice and employed some of the musical aspects I struggle with in my own work (such as page long list sentences). I despaired that I’d never be good enough and should just quit writing. It wasn’t just the book though, I’ve been shushing those thoughts for a while now. Anyway, after a few days sulking, I decided to learn more about this deliberate practice thing. I read Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool one day and Grit by Angela Duckworth the next. Then I set about constructing a writing regimen. I don’t currently work so I’ve got a little extra time. My regimen is divided into 3 sections: content creation (a prompt exercise from Fiction Writer’s Workshop and the daily reader / writer, 15 min journal free write 3x’s a day, and 500w on each of two WIPS), deliberate practice exercises (imitate great sentences, make list sentences, metaphor forms, vowel scale, lexicon, word hoard, spellbinding sentences, adding sound, and analyze 5+ scenes of a novel), and other (reading). Most of my exercises come from The Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long with others from Spellbinding Sentences by Barbara Baig (word hoard + work my way through the book), Write Great Fiction by James Scott Bell (analyze the plot program), and Writing Poetry from the Inside Out (adding sound). It’s the best I can do, but the exercises lack the ever-so-important feedback loop. Although I have a pretty good idea when I’m completing them correctly. I’ve no way to guage how much these exercises will improve my writing but I’m bound to be better for it in a year’s time.

    Reply
    • Katya Hvass

      This is so interesting – thank you for sharing! i will investigate the resources you mention. Can I ask you- how are able to pay so much attention to the technical aspects of writing without loosing the freshness and sincerity? This is what I struggle with the most… The moment my brain get engaged too much, the flow that comes from within – gets interrupted, and the result becomes mechanical and no longer engaging. Thank you and all the best on your path. K 🙂

      Reply
      • BellCindyM

        In content creation, I practice free writing like advocated here on The Write Practice. I just get my first ideas out, stream of conscious and worry about editing it later. It’s a good technique for retaining the freshness and sincerity. Although I do a hybrid approach where I slow down the writing for the WIPs.

        And with the deliberate practice exercises, it should be more of a cumulative effect where, over time, it just sinks in and affects my writing and editing so that I naturally have access to better music and inventiveness.

        Reply
    • Stella

      Agreed. This is fascinating! Makes me want to check out these resources too. My instinct is that the second part of your regimen (the one you labelled ‘deliberate practice exercises’) seems rather mechanical, though. Imitating great sentences, metaphor forms? How do these work, and does it work for you? Sorry, seems like I’m asking the same question as Katya but in a different way.

      Also, I’m very impressed at how much writing you do on a daily basis. Do you also have a full-time job? If so, care to share how you make time to write?

      Reply
      • BellCindyM

        I don’t work at this time, so I’m trying to take advantage of that while I can. If I did work, I don’t think there’s anyway I could do this much, but I’d still challenge myself and do as many deliberate practice exercises as I could.

        The deliberate practice exercises are mostly to awaken my ear for music and words and other aspects of writing. I don’t then go through my content for the day and apply the exercises, I just practice the skill as it’s own thing. In time, it should become second nature to me and then my editing and writing should be affected so that I’m a better writer. Also, I’m told that imitating a variety of the greats is one way to find your own voice much like a painter would first imitate great paintings before developing their own style.

        If you wind up trying the adding sound exercise, don’t just use it for alliteration as the author suggests. The basic exercise can be used for other sounds as well.

        Reply
      • Katya Hvass

        Thank you, BellCindyM. Stella, perhaps, it will help us to try the exercises to get a feel for how they work and fit into our individual writing habits and practice. K 🙂

        Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      It looks like you have the intentional challenge part of deliberate practice down! I’m very impressed with your writing regimen—you’ve clearly set some specific challenges and goals for yourself, and you’ve created a good structure to measure and identify your progress. And I’m guessing that in your reading, you’re learning from the greats. In fact, today’s post on The Write Practice might give you some helpful tips on making the most of that time: https://thewritepractice.com/learn-to-write/

      As you point out, the feedback loop is incredibly important. Intentional practice is great, but feedback allows you to recognize weaknesses and correct them in the next round. I’m glad to hear you’ve found a writing community that’s helpful to you. You’re also welcome to post your practices in the comments here on The Write Practice, where you’ll get helpful feedback from your fellow writers.

      Good luck with your deliberate writing practice!

      Reply
      • BellCindyM

        Thanks for the invite. I’m starting to get more active on The Write Practice and will likely join in on some of your practices. I enjoyed the article on reading and will incorporate the suggestions into my reading practice!

        Reply
  19. jb

    I spent the last 3 weeks practicing by building a wordpress site. I hit a brick wall several times (was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone!) but pushed through and told myself i needed to keep going, learn from wordpress blogs/forums, other people, etc.

    now that I’m on the other end of the tunnel, it feels so good to have stuck with it and accomplish my goal.

    Reply
  20. Jennie Henney Zellers

    I watched a movie last night, that I believe may change the course of
    my life. Hector and the Search for Happiness. In a nutshell the movie
    asks the question; what is happiness? Who can have it? Where do you
    find it? Why don’t you feel it enough?. Instead of giving you the
    answer, it leaves you with more questions. Questions, only you can
    answer for yourself.

    A frustrating caveat: there’s no
    formula. You just can be happy, no matter what your reality is. A
    woman with no running water, in warlord torn Africa dances and laughs to
    pass the time. A milionare in a mansion paces the floor fretting and
    counting his millions. Why? What could she possibly have to help her
    along that he couldn’t. Less to worry about? Not in a place like
    Africa. I don’t think so. It goes deeper than just the old gangsta
    addage “mo money, mo problems”.

    Hector and the Search for
    Happiness proposes that it’s not happiness itself that satisfies, but
    the pursuit, the chase. It claims happiness is merely a side effect.
    But again, it challenges you not to waste your time on formulas, but
    instead, allow the symphony to play. Allow all the emotions to play
    their notes. Allow the violins to sing the serenade of sorrow. Allow
    the heavy metal guitar riffs to rage with anger. Allow the jazz piano
    of the unexpected to suprise you. Let all the emotions play their part,
    and have their solo when needed. Only then, can the sweet song of life
    play out with balance.

    In conclusion. The biggest
    eye opener for me was this; most unhappiness comes from trying to run
    away from it. For me, being a cat lady myself, I finally understood
    what the universe was trying to show me. Happiness is like a cat. If
    you chase it down the hall yelling, and making smoochie noises in hopes
    of a cuddle, that thing will hide out under the bed all day. Instead,
    take interest in something else, and happiness, just like a cat, will
    hop onto your lap, curl up, and purr eventually.

    Reply
  21. Jennie Henney Zellers

    Here’s my practice.

    I watched a movie last night, that I believe may change the course of
    my life Hector and the Search for Happiness. In a nutshell the movie
    asks the question; what is happiness? Who can have it? Where do you
    find it? Why don’t you feel it enough?. Instead of giving you the
    answer, it leaves you with more questions. Questions, only you can
    answer for yourself.

    A frustrating caveat: there’s no
    formula. You just can be happy, no matter what your reality is. A
    woman with no running water, in warlord torn Africa dances and laughs to
    pass the time. A milionare in a mansion paces the floor fretting and
    counting his millions. Why? What could she possibly have to help her
    along that he couldn’t. Less to worry about? Not in a place like
    Africa. I don’t think so. It goes deeper than just the old gangsta
    addage “mo money, mo problems”.

    Hector and the Search for
    Happiness proposes that it’s not happiness itself that satisfies, but
    the pursuit, the chase. It claims happiness is merely a side effect.
    But again, it challenges you not to waste your time on formulas, but
    instead, allow the symphony to play. Allow all the emotions to play
    their notes in unison. Allow the violins to sing the serenade of sorrow. Allow
    the heavy metal guitar riffs to rage with anger. Allow the jazz piano
    of the unexpected to suprise you. Let all the emotions play their part,
    and have their solo when needed. Only then, can the sweet song of life
    play out with balance.

    In conclusion. The biggest
    eye opener for me was this; most unhappiness comes from trying to run
    away from it. For me, being a cat lady myself, I finally understood
    what the universe was trying to show me. Happiness is like a cat. If
    you chase it down the hall yelling, and making smoochie noises in hopes
    of a cuddle, that thing will hide out under the bed all day. Instead,
    take interest in something else, and happiness, just like a cat, will
    hop onto your lap, curl up, and purr eventually.

    Reply
  22. Jennie Henney Zellers

    I watched a movie last night, that I believe may change the course of
    my life: Hector and the Search for Happiness. In a nutshell the movie
    asks the question; what is happiness? Who can have it? Where do you
    find it? Why don’t you feel it enough?. Instead of giving you the
    answer, it leaves you with more questions. Questions, only you can
    answer for yourself.

    A frustrating caveat: there’s no
    formula. You just can be happy, no matter what your reality is. A
    woman with no running water, in warlord torn Africa dances and laughs to
    pass the time. A milionare in a mansion paces the floor fretting and
    counting his millions. Why? What could she possibly have to help her
    along that he couldn’t. Less to worry about? Not in a place like
    Africa. I don’t think so. It goes deeper than just the old gangsta
    addage “mo money, mo problems”.

    Hector and the Search for
    Happiness proposes that it’s not happiness itself that satisfies.
    It claims happiness is merely a side effect.
    It challenges you not to waste your time on formulas, but
    instead, allow the symphony to play. Allow all the emotions to play
    their notes. Allow the violins to sing the serenade of sorrow. Allow
    the heavy metal guitar riffs to rage with anger. Allow the jazz piano
    of the unexpected to suprise you. Let all the emotions play their part,
    and have their solo when needed. Only then, can the sweet song of life
    play out with balance.

    In conclusion. The biggest
    eye opener for me was this; most unhappiness comes from trying to run
    away from it. For me, being a cat lady myself, I finally understood
    what the universe was trying to show me. Happiness is like a cat. If
    you chase it down the hall yelling, and making smoochie noises in hopes
    of a cuddle, that thing will hide out under the bed all day. Instead,
    take interest in something else, and happiness, just like a cat, will
    hop onto your lap, curl up, and purr eventually.

    Reply
  23. Jennie Henney Zellers

    Here’s my practice:

    I watched a movie last night, that I believe may change the course of
    my life. Hector and the Search for Happiness. In a nutshell the movie
    asks the question; what is happiness? Who can have it? Where do you
    find it? Why don’t you feel it enough?. Instead of giving you the
    answer, it leaves you with more questions. Questions, only you can
    answer for yourself.

    A frustrating caveat: there’s noformula. You just can be happy, no matter what your reality is. A woman with no running water, in warlord torn Africa dances and laughs to
    pass the time. A milionare in a mansion paces the floor fretting and
    counting his millions. Why? What could she possibly have to help her
    along that he couldn’t. Less to worry about? Not in a place like
    Africa. I don’t think so. It goes deeper than just the old gangsta
    adage “mo money, mo problems”.

    Hector and the Search for Happiness proposes that it’s not happiness itself that satisfies. It claims happiness is merely a side effect. But again, it challenges you not to waste your time on formulas, but instead, allow the symphony to play. Allow all the emotions to play their notes. Allow the violins to sing the serenade of sorrow. Allow
    the heavy metal guitar riffs to rage with anger. Allow the jazz piano
    of the unexpected to suprise you. Let all the emotions play their part,
    and have their solo when needed. Only then, can the sweet song of life
    play out with balance, bringing with it true happiness.

    In conclusion. The biggest eye opener for me was this; most unhappiness comes from trying to run away from it. For me, being a cat lady myself, I finally understood
    what the universe was trying to show me. Happiness is like a cat. If
    you chase it down the hall making smoochie noises in hopes
    of a cuddle, that thing will hide out under the bed all day. Instead,
    take interest in something else, and happiness, just like a cat, will
    eventually hop onto your lap, curl up, and purr.

    Reply
    • Jennie Henney Zellers

      I’m not sure why this is displaying so fragmented sorry

      Reply
  24. Meral

    Indeed, we mostly dont find people who can give us feedback. As i want to improve my writting skills, but i’m unable to find the platform and the prominent genre. Furthermore, deliberate practice makes man perfect, coming out of comfort zone is not an easy. It requires persistent effort

    Reply
  25. Stella

    I recently picked up a fantastic book called ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. The book extols deliberate practice as a way to achieve excellence in life. That was the book that drove me back to The Write Practice, 15 minutes of writing on someone else’s prompt every day, to push me out of my comfort zone. And now that I’m here, what do I find but another post on deliberate practice? God is speaking to me.

    Writing for 15 minutes a day on a prompt not of my choice is the complete opposite of how I normally write. I’ve sat on stories for months if not years, nursing them, nursing them to death. You just can’t sit on inspiration for that long. When a story first hits it’s fresh and exciting, something you can’t wait to get onto the page. By the second or third month it starts to go stale. And if you’ve ever revived a story after more than a year of not writing it, I want to hear how you did it.

    In short, my writing practice was all wrong. I was taking a few ideas and stretching them out so thin and so long that they died. This, then, is the complete opposite of my comfort zone. Writing for just 15 minutes, every single day, on a different topic which I don’t get to choose. Writing here every day will be my deliberate practice.

    One thing I’m learning is to read and review others’ stories. I don’t know about you, but I’m one of a handful of people I know in real life who write. Most of my friends have this bemused ‘Oh, you write? I don’t even read’ response whenever I share my stories with them. And the problem with being the best writer you know in real life is that it’s hard to improve. (I am sorry if that sounded incredibly arrogant.)

    So reading and giving feedback to other writers is a skill I want to acquire. It’s not easy to give good feedback. It’s easy to point out what you didn’t like about a story, or to suggest how you would have written it yourself, but how would you write it using the AUTHOR’s technique, for the purpose the AUTHOR was trying to achieve?

    Another skill I want to acquire is to put work out there without caring how good, or bad, it is. It’s fortunate that my first 15-minute prompt was a free-writing prompt, because now I see the benefits of writing without ever hitting the backspace key. I edit too much – should be obvious, considering how long I span out a few stories – so simply writing without editing is something foreign to me. Stop being so perfectionist and write!

    And I suppose the final thing I’m learning is how to write without caring if anyone will read. It trips me up whenever I pause to think about whether my writing is sufficiently accessible or interesting to my potential readers. Should I go back and add a joke here, an observation there? But when you’re focusing on what your potential readers will or might think, you aren’t focusing on how to make your writing as good as it can be.

    I’ve hit the brick wall now. It usually happens to me about halfway through the 15 minutes, but now I’ve made it to the 11th minute before I stopped and checked how much time was left. Does that mean I’m improving? That’s another cue that you’re in your discomfort zone, when you can’t make it to 15 minutes without wondering if the time is up yet. When I wrote the same few stories for years, I could go hours just editing and re-editing a single paragraph. Death by a thousand edits.

    So yes. That’s all I’ve got to say about my experience, writing alone for years and not realizing that what I needed was to stretch myself, to practice deliberately, to go out of my comfort zone. Thanks for the post on deliberate practice, it’s a great reminder!

    I’ve still got 1min 45 seconds left. Now I’ll practice the skill of staring blankly at the page and not having words to write. If nothing else, that seems to be a skill I’ve got down to a fine art.

    Reply
  26. Meral

    Indeed, practice can help but how can we improve thinking part

    Reply
  27. Mike Van Leuken

    Practice: I am reminded of when I taught myself Northwest Coast (NWC) Art (my abbreviation). This is an indigenous art form that stretches from roughly Seattle up to Alaska with easily a dozen different styles in that genre? I became captivated by it and so began learning what I could. For months I read library books and countless websites. I also bought a few important books that taught the basic elements used in creating this art style.

    Being an artist I turned my attention to doing my own pieces. I did the equivalent of scales by drawing page upon page of the basic elements, copying parts of more intricate masterpieces and even working out some of my own ideas. Learning from the masters, both living and long since dead, took the form of the reading and research noted above as well museum visits to see some of the old master works.

    I’ve since filled several sketchbooks and produced drawings of my own ranging from 5″ X 7″ up to 18″ X 24″. There were certainly challenges getting to this point including actually letting people see my work. Through all challenges I never gave up and it never felt like work.

    Reply
  28. Luanna Pierce

    The last time I deliberately set out to practice something, it was to see people as God sees people, or as a pastor or a priest might say God sees people. IE: We are all God’s children. The challenge is that I had gone to work as a nurse in the Medical Dept of the Correctional Facility.

    I figured if I could see criminals as God sees them, then the people in my day to day life would be easy to see as God sees them. Daily, sometimes every five minutes at first, I had to set aside judgements and see through to each person as a soul that God loves. Little did I know that what I would find was that given certain sets of experiences while growing up, any one of us might be incarcerated.
    The assessements they had us do with intakes revealed shocking stories related as if they were family tales with no more emotion or thought to privacy than a trip to the grocery store.
    The practice of seeing each person as a person of value that God loves,enabled me to help in some instances. A man who was devasted to be in jail and expressing hopelessness was encouraged to see this as the universe tapping him on the shoulder and suggesting he think about where his free will might take him if he continued and to see that he could exercise his free will in a different direction to avoid a return to this place once he accounted for his current actions and actually find a fulfillment for the void in his heart helping others. A woman who was little more than a teenager got referred for counseling as she revealed incest, rape and prolonged molestation as if she were describing what she had for dinner last tuesday, but she made the comment that for the first time when she gave her histroy she felt that she was truly listened to.
    I think though that the practice of seeing each person as a person of value that God loves changed me more than any of the tried criminals and alleged criminals I worked with. Who can say how a small kindness along with being firm, fair, and consistant could impact on someones life? Yes I know the subject is to describe a purposeful practice. I imagine initating a practice for writing and I am having a hard time wanting to cause trouble for souls that God loves. Ah, but free will can take any of us anywhere!

    Reply
  29. Ankita Shivhare

    *Love & Lust*

    One with its own beauty of connecting souls.

    Other one with its own thirst of connecting a naked body.

    But what if both love & lust hook up?

    Do Lust will conquer over Love?
    OR
    Do Love will bring esteem
    for Lust?

    In a misty battle of Love & Lust.
    I will either esteem high or degrade my soul.

    Though it’s risky but
    My Inner voice says
    Just let yourself fall “Love will hold you in his Arms”

    Reply
  30. Cherrie Smith-Andersen

    Game of Thrones Deliberate Practice Challenge

    I’ve been thinking about deliberate practice a lot lately. Though writing and editing is part of the practice, study of great writing is another piece of the puzzle. Lately I’ve been in groups that analysed “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “The Grapes of Wrath.” By looking at the vanishingly small details, and making comparisons, I am learning a lot about how to set up a story, tricks to get an emotional response. It’s hard work, but well worth the effort.

    Now I feel like I want to do something more ambitious. I want to get a group together to go through George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Fire and Ice” series. These books were a phenomenon even before the HBO series came out. They are wildly popular. Podcast and fan sites are dedicated to speculating about what will happen to the characters. I would like to tear into these books in a really deep way to see why they strike a chord with so many people.

    Even if you are not a fantasy fan, I invite you to join me in this endeavor.

    Reply
  31. Sophia Ojha

    Thank you so very much for this post. It comes to me at the right time. I am extra nervous posting on this blog because of all the trained eyes and expert writers that visit thewritepractice.com. I would love to request your feedback on the following two sentences. How can I make them better?

    “Think of it this way: when we sow a seed, let’s say of an apple, what comes from it? A small plant that eventually becomes an apple tree.”

    Reply
  32. Sarojini Pattayat

    I have a day job. But following the advice you have given, I can be able to edit what I have written and jump to some new story/poem.
    Thanks a lot

    Reply
  33. Gary G Little

    And another fifteen minutes dies!

    Blink, blink, blink.

    Carriage return. At least I can move that stupid cursor down the page. Oh wait, if I string letters together I can move it across the page. Even better, if I throw in a space every now and then, I can make words, as I string those letters together. Holy cow, if I throw in a period, or exclamation mark, or question mark, and make the first letter of the next word a capital, I can make a sentence.

    Amazing! A couple of sentences and add two carriage returns, and I can make a paragraph! More letters, more words, more sentences and I have another paragraph.

    Now I’m getting the hang of this. I’m writing, not just random words, not just random letters, I’m writing sentences, that form paragraphs.

    Blink, blink, blink.

    Rats, a dead spot. Now what to write. A Dead zone. I hate dead zones. It is a spot where originality dies, thoughts scatter, and imagination dries up like a river during a drought.

    Tease the muse on my shoulder. Feed it a cookie. Irritate the anti-muse on the other shoulder. Write something. Write about something.

    Oh see Jane.

    See Jane run.

    Jane runs fast.

    Oh see Dick.

    See Dick run.

    Thud!

    Dick is clumsy and tripped.

    But, I’m still writing! Should that be an exclamatory sentence? Why not? I have not exclaimed anything for a while. Hey look at that! I also threw in a few interrogatives.

    Maybe I have the hang of this thing called writing after all!?

    Blink, blink, blink.

    Reply
  34. Bruce Carroll

    “I’m going to lose weight,” I said. “I’m going to lose weight.”
    One pound. Two pounds. Then gain five.
    “I’m going to lose weight. I’m really going to lose weight.” I’d pass on dessert.
    My first attempts at practice were not very impressive.
    “Maybe I need to do some research.”
    Another week went by before I opened my browser and did a search. Once I started reading, I was shocked. I had been going about this weight loss thing all wrong. It wasn’t as simple as eating less. I learned to really lose weight I had to eat the right kinds of foods, in surprisingly large portions. A weight loss program was more than just a diet. It would require weight training and cardiovascular exercise.
    I made a plan. Part of that plan was the decision to start right away. Before I even bought a set of dumbbells, I began lifting cans of baked beans. I began eating five meals a day; things like oatmeal, eggs, chicken breast and brown rice. Twice a week I would power walk for twenty minutes. I remember people asking me how many miles I walked. I went for time, not distance. It had to be twenty minutes or more, twice a week. After the first twenty-four hours of having embarked on my new plan, I felt better. I hadn’t really known I had felt bad.
    After four weeks I was looking in the bathroom mirror as I combed what little hair I have. I suddenly noticed a biceps on my arm, where I hadn’t noticed one before. “Where did you come from?” I asked.
    My journey has had three parts: knowing what I must do, discipline, and persistence. I let nothing stop me. If I skipped a workout or ate too much Thanksgiving dinner, I didn’t let that be a reason to quit. The next day, I was back at my routine, eating the right kinds of foods, lifting, and cardio. My power walks had become respectable jogs.
    Eighty pounds later, I realize this has been a lifestyle change for me. I do not want to go back to how I lived before. For my writing, I have to make a lifestyle change as well. I have to know what kind of writing to do, have the discipline to do it, and be persistent.

    Reply

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