Practice makes perfect

I lost another day to Sims. In my defence, I had given it to myself because I was still feeling lousy, but I shouldn’t have. Even worse, I was working on a challenge that I hadn’t read the rules for, and I discovered this morning that it wasn’t valid, so that wasn’t great.

What it did show, though, was just how good I am at Sims. I mean, I am brilliant. And I should be, I’ve been playing for over a decade. The only exception is building, because I’ve never bothered to learn. I have my Sims live in boxes, or in houses I’ve downloaded, because I had better things to do with my time than polish skills that didn’t come naturally to me. I’ve never learned to draw, either. Stick figures are usually detached from their heads, trees and sheep are only distinguishable by the number of sticks coming off the bottom, and houses, even sketched out on graph paper, never look quite right. My brother, by contrast, is a brilliant artist who’s never really practiced it. He also plays more musical instruments than should be allowed to exist, certainly in the same house as me at 7 in the morning, and he’s a good dancer.

I’ve never learned to do any of those things. Even dancing, we’re both morris dancers, but we’ve not done the same style since we were about 14. I look at the things he can do and I feel guilty, because if I’d put the hours in I’d probably be able to play the piano, or draw, or do any of the thousands of things I’ve had a passing thought of ‘oh, that would be cool’ and never done anything about. I could have.

But I wouldn’t have been good at them, not like he is. I don’t have the natural talent, and there’s only so far grit and determination can take you. Instead I’ve devoted my free time to Sims, and to writing. Things I did have an aptitude for. I also took up photography, because that requires going to interesting places with a camera. My heading is staying, Zero to Hero challenge or not, because I only chose it last week. It’s a photo I took at Lakes Entrance in New South Wales, as the sunset hit the water after a very long day.

“A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.”

David Eddings

Malcolm Gladwell said that you need to do 10000 hours of practice to get good at something. Why would I give my 10000 hours to something that I don’t actually enjoy? Yes, it’s a bit quitting at the first hurdle, but I don’t actually enjoy doing things I’m rubbish at. I do enjoy writing. I have written my million words, although I’m probably well short of the 10000 hours. To be there I’d have to have done 20 hours a week, every week, since I was 13. Even school didn’t give me that many hours of writing.

My apprenticeship is not over, but maybe I’m almost ready to begin.

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9 thoughts on “Practice makes perfect

  1. Ha! I feel your sibling pain! My eldest brother is effortlessly artistic with pencil (or camera, it seems now). Me? I can’t draw freehand for spit – and its something I’ve tried to improve on. But nope.

    I know what you mean about putting the effort in before you expect something out, but you’re quite right: why waste time on something that doesn’t come naturally?

    Words, and worlds, are what drives me. And I’m honing that craft. Every damn day.

  2. I gave my brother Sims for Christmas. He’s always working so much, I told him this would help improve his social life, at least virtually! 😉

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