Musicians practice. Athletes practice. Airplane pilots practice. Virtually all professions, which offer internships and apprenticeship, are offering practice. The question for today is can, and do, writers practice?
I asked some of my writer friends for their answer to this question, and all of them said, “Reading.” I have no doubt that reading (a lot) is required of people who wish to write. A musician must listen to music (a lot) as part of his or her musical understanding. Still, no one confuses listening to music with practicing music.
Also, without doubt, if you have been writing for a long time, you are, so to speak, a practicing professional, and that practice adds immeasurably to your writing skill.
But I am going to suggest that rewriting is writer’s practice. I thought about this as I labored today over a paragraph in a new project. Changing the structure, the words, the rhythm, the logic, the metaphors, etc., etc., of that one paragraph—trying to get it right—is practicing my profession—writing. I believe it was the British writer, George Bernard Shaw who said, “Hard writing makes easy reading.”
No one, no one, no one writes anything really good unless they rewrite, which is to say practice. Like every other kind of working artist, practice makes … art.