The Gift of Practice (By Patricia Goodson, Ph.D., P.O.W.E.R. Director)

The Gift of Practice

By Patricia Goodson, Ph.D, P.O.W.E.R. Director


A year ago, a friend of mine gave me a gift: a book, titled “1,000 Gifts – A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” (by Ann Voskamp). The author challenges readers to begin a list of gifts he/she receives on a daily basis. The challenge, of course, cuts deeper: it invites readers to see all of life, the big events (getting an article accepted for publication) as well as the smallest snippets of beauty (seeing Monarch butterflies from my office window), as gifts.  I’ve read the book cover-to-cover four times, and aim to finish the fifth reading in a few weeks. I have the book in my iPod, in hard copy, and I buy extra copies to give to friends. I have accepted the challenge and started my own list.

But here I don’t want to write about the book – although I strongly recommend it, especially for readers who are Christian. I mention the book because, after reading it, I have come to view almost everything in my life as gifts. So… you can imagine my delight and surprise when I read Judy Reeves’ statement about practicing my writing as a gift to myself. Here’s what resonated so deeply:

Create a schedule that works for you, so that when practice time comes, you accept it as an ongoing, necessary part of your life as a writer and [drum-roll, please!] look forward to it as a gift to yourself. (Reeves, J. 2003. A Creative Writer’s Kit. Prompts & Practices. Novato, CA. New World Library. Page 03 – although this book does not have page numbers…! – comments are mine).

Seeing practice as a gift I give myself is much kinder and gentler than the image of the athlete sweating away and pushing the limits of endurance. Makes me want to keep that writing appointment with myself. Really want to. “Receiving a gift” – reads the wisdom literature of the Bible – “is like getting a rare gemstone; any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted” (Proverbs 17:8, The Message Bible). The image of practice as a gift retains the notion not only of utility and investment, but also of beauty: yes, practicing writing helps us write more and it helps us write better; it may even make our writing beautiful.

As we begin this blog-space for sharing bits and pieces of information related to P.O.W.E.R., new knowledge and helpful strategies, I want to begin with the notion of the gift of practice. How have you been treating yourself, lately? Have you been “gifting” yourself with steady writing practice? If, as for most of us, your semester began on a “crazy” pace and hasn’t yet let up very much, you are probably hungry for slowing down, catching your breath, and getting caught up with your writing and your life. Viewing practice as a gift to yourself may allow you just enough space to slow down and breathe deep; place one word in front of the other, and savor accomplishment for that day.

I like being reminded that practicing my writing is a gift I can give myself, so I thought I’d share the insight with you. By the way, the reminder, itself, is a gift – as are all of you reading this entry right now. Oh, yes: the list of 1,000 gifts I started last year? Tonight, when I add the gifts for this day, “writing practice” will be listed as #4,061.