Turquoise Horse

“Miss one day of practice, I notice; miss two, the critics notice; miss three, the audience notices”

This has been credited to a lot of different musicians over the years –Liszt among them. I first heard of the expression from my husband, who trained for many years as a classical pianist. While I studied piano for about four years, I never really did practice well, or with sufficient dedication to make more than minimal progress.

Thing is, it doesn’t just apply to musicians. Consistent practice is important to almost any skill or endeavor – be it an athletic skill or an art. One of the arts that really does require pretty consistent practice or it becomes swiftly noticeable you’re not doing it is writing.

I spent about a year from the summer of 2013 to the summer of 2014 not writing much. This was so unusual for me as to be out of character. I write all the time. I was a regular Harriet the Spy as a youngster, I learned a lot of the computer skills I now have as a way to get essays out there before CMS tools and blogging software became a thing, and I’ve always processed my thoughts and feelings in text in some format.

That year I’ve spent not writing on a consistent basis has dulled my skills beyond belief. While I’m physically weak from not exercising my body, my writing is weak from not doing regular workouts in that field as well.

Because the only way to get better is to practice, I turned back to 750Words. The premise behind 750 Words is very much like the whole idea of Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The way to make writing flow easily is simply to write. You must have quota and do it consistently every day. For me, typing 750 words every morning is better than doing it longhand. I don’t like to write longhand and since so much of my work requires typing anyway, I prefer to use that medium to do my morning pages.

Why the Turquoise Horse? The 750Words has several sorts of incentives and badges one can earn to encourage one not only to write, but to write consistently. If you sign up for a challenge and write every day for a calendar month, you earn your Turquoise Horse. I did it for August and was just notified this morning that I got mine

The badges are all whimsical and add a bit of fun to encouraging people to practice their writing. Just do it. Just write it. Don’t care about quality or form. Don’t worry about eloquence or humor. Rant where you must, talk about how tedious it is if you have to, but get those750 words out.

That’s an important step. Never underestimate flow when practicing one’s art.

What about improving? That’s also an important step. Any author will tell you that until you have that first draft, you have no business in the world thinking about editing. Editing comes next. Yes, you should edit. Yes, getting critiques is incredibly important.

But until you have that first draft, you’ve got nothing to work on.

If you’re a writer or want to improve your writing, I do recommend a practice like 750 words. It helps

3 Replies to “Turquoise Horse”

  1. I used to do aerial photography as a pilot. My photographer was a none pilot. After we’d worked together for a couple of months we ended up with three weather days that were not flyable. About half way through the morning I realized I didn’t feel as good about my flying, nothing unsafe, just not as smooth. I asked Kristen how my flying was that day. Her reply was something like, not as smooth as normal. That was just three days of not doing fairly normal flying.

    Patty Wagstaff, a five time US Aerobatic champion and an airshow performer, used to practice twice a day during the season. If she didn’t not only did her general performance go down, but her tolerance for G forces went down.

    It’s not just art, by a long shot.


    1. You’re right. It’s not just art. ‘Most any physical skill is like this. I notice it in swimming, dance and martial arts.

  2. I thank you very much for ‘helping’ me to find 750 words. It isn’t always easy to get up and get the brain engaged and sometimes I have to wait to do the words, but I have managed ALMOST 50 days and I’m involved in the September Challenge. I know what I write is …stuff. Nothing about nothing. Yesterday most of my post was about my hair and how my mother gives me a hard time about it being long (ish. Nowhere near as long as yours is!) But last night as I lay unsleeping (too hot. Too humid) I looked outside and noticed that the tree across the street, as the wind tossed the leaves and branches, looked a bit like a couple of dragons at play.

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