That little tidbit has been attributed to more musicians than I can count, of every instrument, all over the world. I have no idea who said it, but it’s spot on. And not only is it spot on in regards to practicing an instrument, but to many areas of life. I can substitute nearly any activity for practice and it will still be valid: gardening, public speaking…
I’ve fallen out of practice with writing. Well, I’ve fallen out of practice with many things, but I’m calling the lack of flute practice Jaw Rest and Repair so that I don’t end up with even more unexpected dental work and a permanent liquid diet. Everything else is lumped into the category of Too Much To Do And I Have No Time Turner. But falling out of practice with writing smarts.
I know it’s noticeable, and that smarts even more. So I’ve joined a small writers’ group and am committing myself to a certain number of words a day. They can be here, they can be on book #2, they can be journaling, they can be crappy fiction I slap out and then burn. (I haven’t written fiction since I was 8, so burning is really the best outcome if I go down that road). But practice makes better, and so I must practice.
For the first time since last summer, I have the time. Time, that commodity more precious to me than gold these days. I’ve reached the point in my life that if you’re wasting my time, you’d better hope your life insurance is paid up, for I am likely mentally disembowelling you as I smile through gritted teeth. Not only do I have the time right now, but it is time in which no one is talking at me. The boys are in summer camp three and a half hours a day four days a week for five weeks. That is a heady fourteen hours a week, my friends. This is eerily reminiscent of the days when the boys were finally old enough for preschool. Then, as now, I was like this:
I never thought I’d be doing the They’re Otherwise Occupied! dance again, but I also never thought I’d be homeschooling and have to do that dance again. I just finished reading the book Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich, and one of the (extremely brief) chapters was titled “Minimize the ‘Drop-Off’.” While I agree with much of the book, I draw the line here. I’m not going to stay at a kids’ birthday party, nor am I going to hang out at their activities, nor am I going to go out of my way to drag the boys with me on errands. I deserve some non-kid time; it’s the only way I’m able to stay sane while homeschooling, and the fact that I don’t get nearly enough “I get to concentrate” non-kid time is quite evident in my interactions with my boys. If that makes me a failed unschooler, fine.
Those fourteen hours a week have an impatient and unsettled queue vying for its attention. Writing, working, correspondence, planning, researching, silence-reveling…the list goes on. The list will also be quickly whittled into a more manageable shape within a week; see “I get to concentrate” non-kid time. Just the fact that I’ve been able to work on this post without being interrupted, listening only to the dog’s snores, is doing more for my psyche than anything right now.
Practice makes better. Practice with no distractions makes me happy. And that makes me better.