Practice makes …

Terry-VenablesI recently heard someone talk about their time as a footballer and being coached by Terry Venables (left). The theme of the talk was the best advice he ever had from Mr Venables and something that can be widely applied outside of sport. The advice was in the form of an anecdote and I present it below…

The anecdote

Terry Venables: Tell me; what does practice make?
Eager Trainee: Perfect sir!
Terry Venables: Wrong! Practice makes permanent. Remember that!

This story is widely reported and also I have seen credits to others. Being a football fan I will stick with Terry as the source. What’s really important is the message on practice…

Permanent or Perfect

A while ago I wrote How we learn a post outlining a model for acquiring competence. I think mixing it with the above anecdote is interesting and applies in all fields of life. To make it parochial to writing, I think the overall picture is a bit like the following:

The Writing Feedback Loop

What we have is a feedback loop or indeed set of loops. As we write (practice) we embed our behaviours (the permanent part of the anecdote). Our conscious processing becomes unconscious and we stop discriminating and reinforce all our traits including the negative ones! Key for any writer who wants to improve is to be conscious of our writing and keep at the positive features (the upper loop in the picture).

How do we do this? For me the answer is seek feedback and also to study. You can’t have just one you need both!

Thoughts? How do you keep improving? What tips would like to share? Let me know!


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