I'm not the biggest fan of driving. Once I hop into the car; the road needs my undivided attention, my heart beats anxiously, and I fear the busy traffic around me. Still, I know it's a fact of life that I need to drive, so I do it.
I also drive because I know the importance of practice.
Driving a car is much like the art of writing. It takes a lot of practice to transform our weaknesses into our strengths. You don't become a safe and confident driver overnight, you have to practice, practice, and practice some more.
Let me illustrate my point by explaining why I now have an embarrassing scratch on the back of my car.
Our house is located at the bottom of a steep hill. You can probably imagine my horror the first time I realised I would have to reverse out of the driveway. I knew that if I parked backwards, front of the car to the road, it would be easier to get out later. But looking at the steepness of the hill, there was no way I was going to drive that car backwards.
For three years, I didn't even make an attempt. I always parked it forward. It would be easier for me to go in, but harder for me to get out. I cringed at the fact that I was so afraid, but the anxious driver in me was relieved.
But one spontaneous day, I decided to take the plunge. I thought to myself…
How am I ever going to know if I can do it… if I don't even try?
So I did it. Down that hill I went; taking turns that didn't make sense, almost hitting the frame of the carport as I went down. But I did it. I got in. The car didn't hit one single thing.
As the weeks went on, I continued trying. No more forward parking for me. I practiced. Each time I parked the car, I got better. I made less turns, less adjustments, and my confidence was sky-rocketing. The more I practiced, the better I got at parking.
With my confidence at a high, I decided to push myself. I had never reverse parked in the dark before. I thought there was no other good time like the present, so I took the challenge.
Slowly easing down the driveway in the dark, I was unable to see a thing. My heart was beating rapidly.
Confident that I was getting somewhere, I let go of the brake.
To my horror, the car slammed into the mailbox. I had totally misjudged the distance of the car. I felt like slapping myself. I believed that I'd pushed myself too soon.
So why am I telling you this?
Because after that night, I wanted to give up reverse parking altogether.
When you practice something, you do it so you're CLOSER to your desired outcome. There will be days when you don't get it right, when you falter, when you feel like you're going backwards.
But do you give up? NO. You keep going.
No matter what… don't give up. Don't stop practicing.
Don't be bogged down by the mistakes you make when you write. Don't give up when you get your work rejected, or when a submission fails to win a writing competition. The more you practice, the better a writer you'll become. No matter what, don't give up. Keep writing. Keep practicing.
How did you feel when you first learnt how to drive? Did your mistakes affect your self-confidence?
Think about the first time you learned how to a drive a car, ride a bicycle, pilot a plane, or do something else you found difficult. For fifteen minutes, write about the anxiety you felt, the excitement, the emotions you experienced as you were learning. How did it feel when you made the right move, and most importantly, when you made a mistake? How did practicing get you through to the end? When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments.