I love jazz music. Especially John Coltrane.
There are lots of stories about how dedicated he was to his craft.
Here are two:
Coltrane arranged for another musician, to visit him at his home. The other musician duly did and was invited into the house by Coltrane’s wife. She told him that her husband was just practicing but he was welcome to wait for him. A couple of hours later, the ‘Trane emerged completely unaware, and unconcerned, that the other man had been waiting all that time. He had been practicing, was his self-explanatory reason, when the other politely inferred they were meeting at the earlier time.
At a live concert, Coltrane was supposed to give way, on stage, to a flautist who was with the band at the time, so he could solo. He duly did. The ‘Trane, however, left the stage completely. He returned a few minutes later, at the appropriate point in the tune, having entertained several members of the audience in the gentlemen’s rest room with a live saxophone solo. He hadn’t been able to stop playing, even for a few short minutes.
So, how do you practice your craft?
Are you a five to seven a.m. craftsperson? Or an eight till midnight craftsperson? Maybe even twenty minutes during your lunch break craftsperson?
Or are you like the ‘Trane? And you are always practicing.
Whether you are physically writing, or typing, or just sizing up the location for an action scene, or stealing the jacket from the person in front of you at the store for one of your characters – metaphorically, not literally, steal obviously! – you should always be practicing your craft.
That song lyric you just heard on the radio, did it just give you a chapter heading or the title of your next story?
That movie you just watched wasn’t the best, so at how many points in the story did you mentally note how you could have written it better?
Practice your craft. All the time. Everywhere.
(You probably shouldn’t hang out in toilets writing in your notebook though!)