128 - Practice makes progress

Hello and welcome to the The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.

I’m your host Tucker and this week we’re going to talk about practice. 

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying practice makes perfect. My brother is a bass player and when he was attending music college he hadn’t instructor who disagreed with that statement. I’ve come to agree with this music teacher I’ve never met.

Practice does’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect. It’s not the kind of thing that fits on a mug though and it’s not quite as inspiring as the old standard Practice make perfect.

I’ve mentioned several times on this podcast that the more you do something the better you get. That’s basically 'practice makes perfect’ but I like it because it does’t imply you ever need to be perfect you just need to be persistent. In our interview with Ben Rankel he said "You need discipline more than you need motivation to get creative work done.” You need discipline. You just need to keep doing it.

So what happens if you just keep doing it but you keep doing it wrong. You keep practicing a song but you sing flat every time. You keep practicing your drawing but you never pay attention to your perspective. You can practice all you want but you’ll never get perfect. You need the discipline to keep going but you also need the ability to know where you need to improve. 

I’m not talking about that typical “I suck and I’ll never be good at this” kind of crap that trickles into your creative brain and tries to keep you from moving forward. I’m talking about the ability to look at your work critically and say this part is awesome but next time I’ll need too work on this over here. It’s the ability to see where your strengths are and where you can improve.

This is hard and takes the ability to be completely honest with yourself. If you have trouble with that or you can’t seem to improve on your own you should look for a group of people who enjoy the same creative work as you. Join a songwriting group and they’ll be able to tell you if your choruses need work. Join a photography group and they’ll give you tips on how to work on your framing. Join a life drawing class and they’ll help you work on your line weight and expression. 

Now that you have things to work on things to pay attention to you can take that back to your practice. When you practice you continue with your strengths and you work on your weaknesses. You need something to work on because practice makes permanent and you need to make permanent the things that will improve you. 

So, practice doesn’t make perfect unless you practice perfectly that’s doesn’t sit well with me. Practice makes permanent but that sounds so final like you’ll get to a certain point and be that way forever. Like a tattoo. But that’s not the way it works. You just keep getting better if you just keep practicing and finding your things to improve on. 

I prefer to think that Practice Make Progress. If you don’t do anything you certainly won’t get any better. That’s why my cursive handwriting looks the same today as it did in grade 4. I started printing everything then and never really wrote anything significantly since then. 

Practice makes progress. Each time you do something you move your skills forward. Practice makes progress. Each time you do something you get better. But like I’ve mentioned before you have to consider something finished at some point to really see the weak spots. You can’t just keep working on the same piece for years and years and expect to fully improve. You need to consider something finished so you can look at where things can be done differently next time. Then start something else to keep working on because Practice Makes Progress.

 Get me on twitter @sparkartpodcast or join us in the Facebook group TheSparkAndTheArt.com/Facebook will take you right there.

Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.