I have had the same piano tuner for years. Each time he comes for the yearly tuning, he grumbles that he really should come twice a year but, nevertheless, my Yamaha, he proudly says, continues to hold its tune. When he finishes, he triumphantly plays several measures and then grandly declares, “Your piano is now ready for your morning practice.”
When I urge my dissertation coaching clients to write daily, I often think of my piano tuner’s charming call to daily piano practice.
I encourage my clients to establish a writing habit, one that you do routinely as if it were any other kind of job, and to look at it as a practice that you do each day. Recently a dissertation coaching client said, “I’ve found it useful to take your idea of a ‘writing practice (or daily writing habit)’ and think about it quite literally as a practice, that is, like practicing an instrument. Thinking about writing in this way has helped me to release my perfectionist tendencies a bit, allowing me to see my mistakes as small things that will improve the more I ‘practice.’”
My dissertation coaching client has put into “practice” exactly what I had hoped she would, adopting a perspective that I think would help most writers.
When you revise, you can work at making better word choices or fixing problems, but during most writing sessions, the goal should be to follow a thought, expand an idea, and keep the writing going. For now, produce text. Everything is fixable later on.
Practicing your writing is like practicing the piano. Put in the time each day, and before long, you’ll start to see (hear) the difference.
Have you had your morning practice yet today?
P.S. Are you attempting to tame your perfectionist inner critic? You can change your way of thinking by changing your perspective. I’d love to hear from you.