Monday, March 2, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

In a few weeks, I’ll be performing at a concert for the Mill Race Festival of Traditional Music. Every day I sit down with my dulcimer and run through the set, practicing each piece and trying to program my fingers – and my musical mind – to play everything without effort. It takes a lot of effort to make it look as if I'm doing something effortlessly.

It occurs to me that this principle applies to writing as well. Inspiration strikes, and we dash off our exciting ideas in a story or poem, using all the writing tools and skills we’ve collected over time: skills we've practiced over and over, every time we write. We gaze at the finished product in pleasure – but is it really a finished product?

No. When I come to the end of piece of music, I very rarely think that I played it to perfection. And when I come to the end of a writing experience, I just know I’m not done. I need to revisit, rethink, revise, rewrite. I need to rehearse that written piece over and over before I get it right.

It takes time, energy and commitment to be a musician - or a writer. Practice may not make Perfect, but it certainly helps!


  1. All this is true but there is more... When you want people to be really impressed you should make some things _look_ difficult - even if they're not the things that you actually do find most challenging, and especially if you make most of what you do look natural and easy. That way the audience is guided into thinking you're really stretching the music for them and they'll be bowled over! Tips from the top, not from my humble self I hasten to add. However I've tried it and it works!

  2. Jean,

    We're rounding third base on Wild Dog Summer. The kids were pretty engrossed in Chapter 17.