Monday, June 7, 2010

Practice, practice, practice

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Practice, Practice, Practice…

by C. Patrick Schulze

Listen to a PODCAST of this article.

I raised two daughters and one lazy Saturday afternoon when they were around six and eight, we decided to take a walk in a local park. This particular site contained a skate board stadium where only youngsters under the age of thirteen could play. We stopped to watch the skateboarders for a while and moved into the sideline bleachers to found a seat among the aluminum benches.

My daughters and I watched as the mostly young boys practiced their moves. More often than not, the skaters crashed down to their knees, but every time they'd get up and have another go at it. There was one young boy whose talents exceeded those of every other skater by a wide margin. He seemed to glide over the ramps as if born for the maneuvers. He took it all in stride but the onlookers, my daughters and I included, cheered his more adventurous moves.

After a while, one daughter said to no one in particular, "That guy is good!"

Of course I, the ever knowledgeable father with an age's worth of wisdom to impart, said to her, "You know how he got that good, don't you?"

You'd have thought I'd never asked any other question in my life by their reactions. Both daughters moaned and, in unison mind you, used the most bored tone a child can muster and answered, "Practice, practice, practice."

Well, that cracked me up! It did the same for every parent in the stands as hearty laughter rippled across the bleachers. I'd not been the first to hear that tone, I'm sure.

It's become such a joke in my family, one of my daughters even painted a plaque for me that states, "Practice, practice, practice."

The point, of course, is I was correct, despite their obvious familiarity with the concept. I'd just used that line one time too many, I guess.

The wisdom within, however, still holds to this day. In fact, it's true with almost every aspect of our lives, our writing included.

The moral of this story is obvious. Don't give up. In fact, I was interviewed not too long ago by a young author and her final question asked, "What advice can you give an aspiring author?"

My answer, in a word? "Perseverance."

That's my new way of saying, "Practice, practice, practice," of course, but as I mentioned before, the wisdom holds true to this day. If you wish to succeed in this terribly difficult world of writing, you must, "Practice, practice, practice."  Practice writing, practice reading, (yes, that's part of all this), practice editing, power verbs, characterization, dialogue, plot and all the rest. Only with practice and diligence, or as I now prefer to say, perseverance, will you succeed as a writer.

If truth be told, I've "practiced" my writing for about ten years and I've just now had enough practice to learn how to write that breakout novel.

Until we speak again, know I wish for you only best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze
Author of the emerging novel "Born to be Brothers"