There was a song that I used to sing when I was a little girl. It went like this, "Practice makes perfect. Practice makes perfect. I guess if I practice then better I'll be." Funny how those words stick with me all these years later.
And, like most things, I know the true meaning behind them. But as the saying goes, "practice what you preach," boy is that hard!
As an avid martial artist I should have that discipline to get up every morning and go for a run, because I know every six months that's what I'm tested on. So why do I start training the week before I'm supposed to? When I have a tournament or a test, how come I wait until that week to get my classes in and my forms perfected? Because I'm human.
When I was in college it took me two years to learn how to effectively study for a test. Once, I remember walking in and when the exam was on the board I was ready. Not very good odds for getting through school when you can remember only once being ready!
I find now in my writing I'm more disciplined, but it still takes practice. It takes practice to sit down and deem my job (which doesn't pay me for months) as important. It takes practice to write and effectively rewrite an opening chapter so that your audience doesn't put the book down right away. It takes practice to learn when to use a word correctly and when to omit it.
Now I'm also a publisher. I've practiced on my own books for a long time. The writing. The editing. The formatting. The printing. The marketing. Do I still get it right every time? No, and that's the part that gets me.
Practice, practice, practice. The next book will format correctly, the grammar will be all correct, and the biggest book chain will by thousands of copies. Well, it just doesn't happen like that. There is ALWAYS something wrong in the formatting. Guess what, you can't pick up a New York Times Bestseller without finding an omitted word or missed period somewhere. Grammar, its not my strongest item. But then again isn't grammar used for voice too? And as for that bookstore picking up my book, it takes practice to know who to market to.
Practicing all of these little bits means one thing...practicing patience. Yes, without patience you're not going to get too far. In this industry especially, you need to practice it more and more.
Recently I have found myself getting worked up over my lack of patience. I have a publisher who refuses to return my emails. I have a book that needs my attention to be written and I don't have time. I have authors who depend on me and I feel as though I let them down when I am not right on task, or at least on task to my standards (which I'm finding are very high and unobtainable.) So when it comes to practice makes perfect I certainly know that I need to practice all the items I've mentioned. But what I really need to focus on is my patience Without it my practice isn't worth squat.
So, what do you need to work on? What tries your patience and makes practicing what you preach harder than it should be?
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