Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

I know I've heard this many times as an ice skater. Practice makes perfect. A coach once gave me a handout that basically broke down how many times a jump had to be repeated before a skater could achieve a high landing consistency rate.

It can take almost a several hundred attempts of a jump to achieve even a moderate consistency rate.

If a skater trains one hour a day and they are trying to learn an axel jump. The skater may attempt this jump twenty to thirty times in an hour. A lot of it depends on what other skills the skater must train during that time period and how bad they are falling. If they train five days a week, one hour per day, the skater is probably attempting around 125 axels per week.

It may take a couple to several weeks before the skater lands even one, and then another couple hundred attempts to start landing them fifty percent of the time. And just because you land the jump doesn't mean it's necessarily the best axel out on the market. It can always be higher, rotate faster, travel a farther distance across the ice, have a stronger landing. There is always room for improvement.

This type of work ethic is ingrained in me from twenty years of skating, and yet I don't always apply the patience I have for ice skating training to my writing. Even though I've seen significant improvement in my own and my critique partner's writing with every draft we write. It sometimes doesn't sink in just how much we need to write and read to improve. Natalie Whipple wrote a great post about hope and talks about how she wrote ten novels before she even signed with an agent.

Hope is a fickle thing. Some days I seem to have more than others. But, I've come to this conclusion, because I've seen it on my life-long ice skating journey, if you put in the hard work, eventually, you'll achieve the results you seek.


  1. Such a great post. So true. I've heard it might take 10,000 hours to achieve a level of professionalism in any given field. That's a lot of writing. Or axels. :)

  2. Practice, unfortunately, also inspires contempt, I've found. Gotta remember how to play, too (I have a very hard time with this)

  3. I believe it can only get better. With hard work and, you said it, hope. Without it I would be lost. Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes that helps too. =)

  4. Kristine- I think I've heard similarly. I've also heard that you have to write a million words before you can pump out something respectable.
    Bane- yes, too much practice can inspire contempt. We've got to remember to have fun.
    Liz- I need reminders all the time.

  5. Great post. What's nice about the writing community is for us all to go through this together and see one another's posts and remember we're not alone in working hard, suffering from disappointment and achieving milestones!