Practice, by Wendy DeRaud

 

I have been writing this blog for the past 10 days. I decided to reread a few of my latest posts in order to get into the flow for the next ones. That's when I noticed the typos. I was aghast.

Oops.

I suddenly felt exposed, and knew that I was being found out (especially by all the English Majors who have been reading with a critical eye).

I was sure people now knew that I am actually unprofessional, inexperienced, ignorant of grammatical conventions and sentence structure.

In fact, I excelled at diagramming sentences when I was in school! Now they’d never believe me if I told them that! And that I was the Spelling Bee Queen in grammar school!

It means nothing now, they’ll never come back to my blog.

I could have gone off the rails with this train of thought. I could have retreated to my little hole in self-flaggelation, like the groundhog who has realized there are 6 weeks left of Winter.

Instead I remembered one important thing: developing creative skills takes practice.

 

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” 

Kurt Vonnegut 

I decided to give myself some grace, and some time. I decided that I am still in practice-mode, and that blogging is a great place to practice.

I had been working on the pencil portrait of George MacDonald. It had been awhile since I’d done a portrait, and I just couldn’t get it right. So now I’m going to practice. I may even start over, which is a hard thing for me to do, since I expect myself to get it right the first time.

That is a big mistake many of us make in many areas of life, we have a strange idea that we should be able to get it right the first time. That our first painting is good enough for an art show, when really we need to start over and try again. The next one will probably be better because you’ve just learned so much

There was a reason why Miss Butler my piano teacher made me practice one short little measure over and over again till I got it right and could move on to the next one.

 

Measure by measure, day by day, our skills improve, our focus is sharpened, and we develop the muscle memory in our brains to be able to come back to practice our skill with more knowledge and understanding of how to connect our hand with our eyes, how to see and hear more clearly.

The same principle applies to spiritual practice. The more we spend time in quiet, listening, breathing, paying attention to our mind, trying to focus on God, the better we get at it. Building practice into our daily lives helps ground us in the present moment so we can better express what is inside of us and share it with others.

 

Now, before I go any further, I had better proof-read this.