Practice by doing


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.


3 thoughts on “Practice by doing

  1. With practice to work I think you have to be able to truly critique your own efforts, which is not always so easy. With a competition or publishing, this is where your efforts are put out there and compared with others by others; it’s this pressure that can drive us forward. I’m considering this in light of how I practice guitar, or rather just keep playing the same stuff with the hope of getting better (I actually don’t think this approach works for me, it’s too lazy), but now I have an event coming up (to play on stage in front of others which I’ve not done before) and I feel the extra push to improve, to be doing my best… I just hope this drives my practising forward.

    I also hear people say “oh, I would love to be able to do that one day” about various things that impress them, but they do nothing to make that dream a reality. You truly have to practice, or put into practice (this must be the key term) what you really want to become, incorporating it into your daily life. We have to imagine ourselves at our best and put into practice the things that we need to get there… whilst perhaps not being too harsh on ourselves!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You touch on the sentiment exactly.
      This post was an inflammatory one, trying to provoke people. Practice must be part of learning. No one is going to just pickup a guitar, or archery bow, bowling ball or chef knife and be able to jump right in to competition or production work.
      The idea, as you point out, is to force yourself into higher pressure environment regarding whatever it is you’ve been practicing — even if it’s just recording yourself on youtube for presentation to friends and family.

      Liked by 1 person

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