I’m a full subscriber to the philosophy of learning by doing. Practice, in my book, is just another name for doing a shitty job because your skills are poorly honed, you’ve got less experience than you need to get the job done, or you’re trying out some new technique or method and need to feel out the boundaries.
Practice for the sake of practice, to me, means you’re not really trying. You could just as easily dial back the effort of a full-on production run, focusing on some specific nuance of your skill set because you need the pressure of production to force yourself to learn that skill.
I used to shoot a rifle competitively — in high school and my first year of college. Yes, such things exist and no they’re not alt-right-NRA-drum-beating-neo-cons. It’s just like archery or darts or curling or hell, shuffleboard. And I used to “practice” all the bloody time. (Like 3-4 nights a week, 1-2 hours a night, with matches on weekends and all summer long.)
But I never took practicing seriously. Matches? Those were intense situations. You put money down (not the high school variety – the club variety). Had we only shot in matches, all the time, I’m sure I would have improved considerably more quickly than I did.
The same, I believe goes for writing. Practice writing? Hell no. Write for some venue. Either high end, medium or like here, low end. But write to publish. Write for production. Practice is for losers.