By Julie Glover, 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®Finalist
I was recently listening to a Freakonomics podcast titled “How to Become Great at Just About Anything.” Given that I’d like to be a great author, I wanted to know what researchers have identified as the secrets to success. Let me highlight one of the most important concepts they covered.
Practice Makes Perfect...Or Does It?
You’ve heard the saying “Practice makes perfect”? It’s borne out by people who suggest that the way to become a great writer is simply to write and write and write.
Except that practice doesn’t make perfect. The act of doing an activity over and over again can help you improve your basic skills, but you quickly reach a plateau past which you won’t improve much unless you add determined practice to your repertoire.
Practice vs Determined Practice
What is determined practice? It’s essentially focusing your practice on those areas you need to improve, getting immediate and regular feedback on how you’re doing, and then adjusting accordingly. It’s how a gymnast practices a dismount over and over and over with a coach nearby giving tips on tweaking the landing, or how a cellist plays the same stanza of music repeatedly to master the fingering and musicality of a piece.
Feedback Makes an Expert
But did you see that part about feedback? Here’s what studies show:
“The development of expertise requires coaches who are capable of giving constructive, even painful, feedback. Real experts are extremely motivated students who seek out such feedback.” (Harvard Business Review, “The Making of an Expert.”)
Wow! That’s eye-opening. And exactly what you’ll get on a Cruising Writers retreat. Letting the likes of writing coach Margie Lawson break down my pages, opening myself up to critique from other writers whose strengths are different from mine, and getting feedback from industry professionals like editors and agents have been crucial to improving my writing.
Becoming an Expert Author
Writing in your own little room day after day will foster basic skills. But it won’t make you a great author. That’s just not how becoming an expert works.
You have to seek out determined practice—learn new skills, stretch your writing muscles, focus effort on your pages, get quality feedback. All of which are available with Cruising Writers.
And that’s not even covering all the downright fun you’ll have with your writing tribe. Come retreat with us, and become the truly great author you can be!
About Julie Glover
Julie Glover grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder, Judy Blume, and every Nancy Drew book she could get her hands on. Although she’d always dreamed of writing a novel, she didn’t write her first book until
Hurricane Ike pummeled the Houston Gulf Coast and made her house off limits. Sitting at the in-laws’ house with her laptop, she set her mind to achieving her dream and began to write.
These days, she pens teen fiction—indulging her desires to create interesting characters, express deep emotions, and add snark wherever possible. She lives with her heartthrob husband, two teenage sons, and a diva cat in Friendswood, Texas.
Her young adult contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, is a 2015 RWA® Golden Heart® finalist, placed first in the 2014 Utah RWA Great Beginnings Contest, and received second in the 2014 New Jersey RWA Put Your Heart in a Book Contest, YA categories.