Somewhere along the way I heard that for maximum improvement, one should spend three hours a day on deliberate practice.
So I thought my dream schedule would be
3 hours a day for deliberate practice–reading what I think will help teach me and writing exercises (not the same as writing poems, say, for a manuscript)
1.5 hours a day to work on poems that are my poems, not exercises
1.5 hours a day for reading–poems, research, whatever
1 hour a day for editing, sending submissions, and other biz stuff
That’s 7 hours. How do you fit that around a day job and time to sleep and being with family and eating and going to poetry readings and life?
I don’t know. I do know that those hours are focused and here’s where I tend to fall apart. I might sit in front of my notebook or computer, but I’m not focusing. I’m noodling. Maybe I need an extra 3 hours in that schedule for noodling, or for figuring out what practice tasks or exercises will be deliberate.
I love plans and schedules and lists. And I’m better at thinking them up than doing them. The same with writing blog posts. I think of them, and maybe even get a paragraph in, but then I don’t write them down (except this one–and I’ve been thinking about this one for several days).
How to move from the thinking to the doing? How to focus?
With my lovely schedule idea and a day to myself, I stopped off at Elliott Bay to pick up unsold books (bummer), went to Open Books and bought a stack of poetry (retail therapy to counteract the bummer), and then came home and instead of pruning or weeding or cleaning the bathrooms or reading submissions or reviewing a friend’s manuscript, I spent the day out in the backyard reading Outliers.
The chapter about the 10,000 hours (often cited in the same breath as deliberate practice) was early on. But I kept reading. In the shadow of the laurel hedge that I could have been hacking away at, I kept reading. Because I’m hoping to learn something. I’m hoping to get inspired to put that schedule–or even half of it–into practice.
How to go from the plan to the action? How to get in the habit of deliberate practice?
In the meantime, I’ll practice my poems for tomorrow’s reading.