Archive | March 2018

Failure and Practice

We achieve success through failure. By learning how not to do something, we learn how to do it correctly. When we fail, we learn.  The old proverb, originated by Thomas H. Palmer, meant to encourage children to do their homework, and later popularized by Edward Hickson in his Moral Song, If at first you dont succeed, try, try again, applies to any task in which individuals engage. Whether it relates to school work, a job, sports, exercise and dieting, a hobby or to anything else- such as writing, the idea not to let failures hamper us will ultimately lead us to success.

In E.G. Scholl’s  Blog, Roll Call: Failures , the author writes the following: Failure can exist in our lives without success, but success cannot exist without failure.  He explains that we cant avoid failures and in fact, we should admit when we have faults, make mistakes or allow fear to hinder us. He further says those people, who are least afraid of failing, are the same people who are most likely to succeed.

Using this idea of failures as a preface to success, I point to another famous quote to inspire us to reach the success we are meant to achieve; Practice Makes Perfect . Without failure, and practice, our chances to realize our dream diminish. 

This phrase Practice Makes Perfect, originated in the mid 1500s in the American English language, points to the importance of practicing in order to achieve.  Baseball players, as well as other professional athletes, practice over and over before they take their places on the field at the packed stadium.  Musicians practice their instruments many times before going on stage in front of a live audience.

To further support this notion, Martha Graham, a modern dancer and choreographer quoted the following:

        Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired

Whether ones pursuit is to dance, play ball, create music, or produce art, it takes practice to get there, and along the way there WILL be mistakes and failures.

All my life, from the time I was five years old, I loved to ice skate (in addition to reading and writing of course), and later as an adult- to play tennis.  I was never a natural athlete, so I had to work hard to do well.  Really Hard!  Consequently, in time I did learn, after much practice and many falls on the ice, to skate well.  But, when I got older and wanted to play tennis it wasnt as easy. Nevertheless, I remembered that it was practicing every day at the ponds in the woods by my house, that helped me learn to skate, so I applied it to tennis. 

After taking tennis lessons several times and always being the worst in the class, I decided to practice alone at the wall, in a park by our house.  The first time I hit the ball against the wall I missed- horribly.   I could not even hit the ball twice in a row, yet I never gave up. After going to the wall several times a week for an entire summer I could finally keep that ball going at least 35 times, without missing.  It was practice, and messy, really bad playing that taught me.  I told myself I was not giving up and I didnt.

In writing, we must practice every day if we want to get better.  Sure, there are some of the lucky ones who may have natural talent, perhaps J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, to name two, but for many of the rest of us it takes practice to make perfect.  By combining practice with study (learning the craft), participating in critique groups, and learning from our failures, we have the ability to make our dream come true as writers.

For me, I have dreamt of becoming a writer since I was between five and eight years old and now, many years later I still have that dream.  While it is difficult to find the time these days to write every day, I do try as often as possible to practice write the same way I practiced hitting that tennis ball several years back. I learned the hard way that to fear failure will only lead to more failure, therefore;   I know now that, through failure and practice,  it is only a matter of time before I succeed.