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By Elizabeth B. Elliott

If you have ever watched the show MythBusters on the Discovery channel, then you know the goal of co-hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage is to prove or disprove the veracity of commonly held beliefs. Putting these ideas to the test and sometimes under a literal microscope has paid off for them – their 11-year-old show has no signs of ending anytime soon. However, there is at least one myth they probably won’t touch, but which we as writers would be wise to bust ourselves: Practice makes perfect.

The truth of the matter is, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better, certainly. But perfect? No way.

Let’s take walking as an example. Most of us have been walking since before we can remember. All of the spills, bumps, skinned knees, and bruised shins from our early attempts don’t even register in our memory banks. We’ve gotten pretty good at walking. We can even do it in the dark, and sometimes with our eyes closed.

Personally, I prefer walking over driving, and I go for a walk every morning for exercise. I aim to get in my recommended 10,000 steps per day, but I’m not always successful. It’s safe to say I practice walking a lot. Let’s see, if I even got in just 5,000 steps per day, and multiplied that by my age … well, I’m no good at math but I can assure you that’s a whole lot of steps.

But even with all that practice, I’m still not perfect at walking. If I was, I wouldn’t stub my toe on the corner of the den chair. I wouldn’t trip over a rock in the middle of the road, and I wouldn’t slip on a patch of concrete wet from the rain. Am I better at walking now than I was when I first started?

Yes. Will I be perfect at it, no matter how much I practice? No.

As writers, our practice pays off. The more we journal, blog or tap out stories on our keyboards, the better we become, but we would be wise to put aside the paralyzing idea of perfection. That blog you’ve been thinking about starting, the one you keep waiting to begin until you can figure out how to set up the sidebars? The enemy would love nothing more than for you to let discouragement and distraction set in, and the idea of “perfect” ruin the message the Lord has given you for your readers. The Lord can take our imperfect stories, our imperfect blog layouts and turn them into meaningful messages, but He can’t do it if we are consumed with reaching unattainable goals.

There is only One who is perfect. If I practiced all day, every day, I would never come close to the perfection of Jesus. I am so relieved the Lord doesn’t expect it from me! Let’s set our sights on attainable goals and bust that paralyzing, long-held myth. Practice will never make us perfect, but it will make us better.

Elizabeth B  ElliottElizabeth B. Elliott lives in Texas with her husband and three children, where she practices cooking, writing, walking and her patience – none of which she has perfected. She plans on launching her new blog soon, with our without sidebars. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, @ElizaBElliott.

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2 Responses to Myth: BUSTED!

  1. Thank you for your post.Sometimes perfectionism tries to rule when I sit down at the keyboard. I almost run away then to do the laundry, the dishes, anything but write.

    I have found though that if you choose to self-publish, it is wise to pay for a copy edit of your manuscript. A good copy editor’s talents and skills are worth the money you spend.

  2. Pingback: Practice Makes Perfect? | Dust 2 Diamonds