Over and over again I’ve read the advice from writers that the most important thing to do, if you wish to
- improve your writing,
- be a writer,
…the most important thing to do is to write every day. Some advise to set a daily length-target (so many words or pages); others recommend setting a length of time to commit to writing every day – be it 8 hours or 15 minutes.
I studied both piano and flute when I was a girl, and was expected to practice every single day. For both my band teacher in school and my piano teacher I had to keep a daily practice log to show them every week (and – true confessions – I only padded it sometimes…). Then in college when I majored in music/voice, I rarely let a day go by without time in the practice rooms, singing my exercises and arias and art songs while the sounds of other singers as well as pianos, tubas, clarinets, violas, and every other possible instrument floated through the walls and halls of the building.
So…What does “practice” mean?
1 -“Practice” can mean to rehearse – to prepare; to attempt and to train/learn, for improvement; to repeat and drill. Like practicing musical scales, or riding a bike, or multiplication tables, or free throws, or grand jetes, or how to use oil paints, or hit a target, or write a cogent argument, or how to make pasta from scratch… Or, um, taking your sled dogs out for a practice run. (See, now you know what that great picture of those happy dogs has to do with this topic…!)
2 – “Practice” can also mean to do, to perform. When we say that “she practices medicine” or “he practices law” we do not mean that she or he is rehearsing or learning. We mean that they are doing/applying what they have already prepared and trained for. They are performing their professions.
3 – “Practice” can also mean a habit or routine. Something as prosaic-but-important as practicing good health habits such as washing hands before handling food. Or employing “best practices” in your line of work. Or something spiritual such as having a daily yoga or meditation practice or prayer practice.
Daily practice is valuable to storytelling as well!
Whether storytelling is your profession, or a hobby, or a useful tool in your work, or a passion, or a new interest of yours…
And in all 3 of the senses of “practice” –
1 – To rehearse some aspect(s) of storytelling daily will sharpen and hone – or at least keep familiar and “on the front burner” (!) – your storytelling. It could be anything from speaking out loud various ideas for that new story you’re working on, to playing with an old familiar tale to see what fresh discoveries you might make, to perhaps trying out new “additives” to weave into your telling such as a musical instrument perhaps, or string figures for string stories, or learning a new song-refrain for an audience participation idea.
2 – For those of us for whom storytelling is our profession, we could say that we practice storytelling (just like my son practices law and my niece practices medicine). How does that sound to you? Positive? Pompous? Unclear? Inspirational? I think it’s worth considering…
3 – Having “a daily practice of storytelling” strikes me as a beautiful concept. Storytelling intrinsically is a spiritual experience anyway, in my opinion. Not the least of reasons why is how it nourishes connection and empathy among the people listening and telling. Wouldn’t it be great to experience that every single day?! (Maybe it’s time for me to talk with my neighbors about summer evening gatherings…Storytelling on the back patio – how fun!)
And while I frankly take some issue with the common phrase I chose to use for the title of this article – “Practice makes perfect” [because I believe striving for excellence is far preferable to striving for perfection (but that’s another topic)] – regular practice IS a beneficial activity: Let’s find ways to engage in the regular practice(s) of storytelling!
I’d welcome your comments on how you “practice storytelling” – whichever kind of practice!
Thanks for reading – Pam
You might be interested in:
“Hand of a Piano Player” image courtesy of amfroey at FreeDigitalPhotos.net / “Practice Putting” image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda at FreeDigitalPhotos.net / “Cropped Doctor” image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net / “Meditation” image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net / “Surgeon Practicing yoga” image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Unless otherwise noted, Featured Image at the top of this blog is either purchased for lawful use under PhotoDune Regular License, or was taken personally by Pam Faro. Guess which one this is…