Workables #2: Practice Your Best Material

Sometimes, we mistakenly believe we aren't good enough to work on our best ideas.

Workables #2: Practice Your Best Material
Photo by Shalone Cason / Unsplash


\ ˈwər-kə-bəl \ :‌ ‌capable of being worked.

Many years ago, I had an idea for a story. It involved a priest who received a confession from a criminal, but the priest was the victim of the very crime he was hearing about in the confessional. As he listens, the priest experiences a moral crisis. He’s angry and wants revenge, but he also wants to do his duty and offer the criminal penance.

It’s a solid idea, right?

I’ve never written it. Why? Well, when I had the idea, I felt like it was too good. I said to myself, “I’m not good enough yet to write that.”

This kind of thinking prevents many of us from making art: We believe that someday we will be good enough to finally work on our best ideas.

This kind of thinking leads to artistic stagnation. You must get rid of it!

For us to develop the skills necessary to do justice to our best work, we need to practice. But what are we going to use for our practice? We need to use our best material, and we need to do that for a couple of reasons.

First, it just makes sense. A golfer doesn’t wait until she has the right clubs before she practices. She practices with the clubs she has now. Likewise, if we’re going to practice our art, then we need to practice it with the ideas we have now.

Second, good ideas, if they really interest us, create positive feedback. They want us to work on them! Why spend your time working on mediocre ideas? You’re far more likely to get excited about your practice if you practice with your favorite ideas.

So, practice with your best material.

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