Like Learning an Instrument.

Like New Year’s resolutions, anyone beginning to play a musical instrument begins with the best of intentions.

You have all the excitement of the new guitar, piano, drums, violin, or bagpipes! You have books, or online guides, or maybe you are fortunate to have lessons with Ā teacher. You secure practice time and you begin.

You make some quick gains. Your family and friends even tell you they recognise the piece or two you have just played for them.

Then it becomes a bit harder. You don’t learn quite as quickly. You have to practice the same half-a-dozen notes over and over and over. Other things become pressing upon the time you have set aside, so you cut practice short or miss it entirely.

I began to learn the guitar. I made quick progress, mostly through watching what others did and attempting to copy them. Then I started to plateau. Some new bits I struggled to master and I couldn’t afford to have an actual teacher.

Then along came the guitar legend Joe Satriani.

I will note now that I can actually play a few of his songs, which is more than I can master when I watch videos of him explaining how he came to write certain songs or giving lessons. He is technically awesome. Mostly because he has put the time and effort into his learning and practice.

J.B. Priestly wrote:

Write as often as possible, not with the idea of getting into print, but as if you were learning an instrument.

As well as writing your poems, your plays, or your novels, make sure you practice. Set aside some time each day to work on the technical side of your writing.

Try and write a paragraph or two in the style of your favourite writer.

Write down all the ways you could describe a wave hitting the shore.

Describe a person in as much detail as you can so an artist could sketch them.

I’m sure you can come up with more ideas than me.

Learn your instrument.

(And make sure it lasts longer than your New Year’s resolutions!)

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