Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!



I’m so pleased to have met Staci Stallings online at an author connection site she created. This is one amazing lady! Wears so many hats, I can’t keep up. (Though I doubt she would wear the fruit bowl from yesterday’s post! However, I could be wrong about that.) She has graciously agreed to share her perspectives at Faith-Driven Fiction. 

Very few of us can pick up a complex task and ace it the first time we try it. Take typing. In all the years I taught it, I never had a single student sit down at the keyboard and type 60-70 words a minute their first time.

Not long ago a writing friend of mine asked me to explain how I learned to write. I told her, “I wrote.” To which she replied, “Well, yeah, but I mean how did you LEARN to write.” Again I said, “I wrote.” Journals, poems, short stories, articles, news stories, feature stories, novels. If it involved putting words together on paper, I did it.

It sounds simple but terribly time consuming. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if there was just a formula you could give someone? Anyone new at anything wants to be able to do it like a pro the first time out. We all want to be able to play the guitar like Keith Urban or basketball like Lebron James.  But the reality is that even Keith Urban didn’t play that way the first time he picked up a guitar. Same with Mr. James. Sure, they had some innate talent, but what they had more than that was enough desire to do it well, that they were willing to do what is in everybody’s grasp—practice.

The first time I learned this rule, I was in fifth grade. The girls in my hometown were famous statewide because they made it to and won the State Championships regularly in basketball. So, we all got to learn basketball whether we wanted to or not. Now, fortunately I was from a very small school, so our coach in the fifth grade was the same coach who steered the high school teams to these State Championships. I will forever be grateful for what I learned from him. In short, I learned the value of practice.

Dirk Nowitzki, Anthony Carter, Chris "Birdman" Andersen
We didn’t start by shooting at the goal. No, we started by learning where to put our hands on the basketball and where to put our feet on the floor. We “shot” with no ball at least a few hundred times at the beginning of each practice session. Then we practiced shooting an actual basketball into the air. Then we shot to each other. And when I say practice, I mean just that. Thousands of times set your hands, set your feet, down, up, follow through in the air—to your partner who then went through the same procedure.

In the high school ranks, the girls on the team were required to make 2,000 free throws before the season began. At the time it seemed excessive. Now I understand. When you stand on that line and make 2,000 free throws and then make countless more during practices, by the time you step on that line with a gym-full of people yelling at you and the game on the line, your body knows what to do automatically.

Ask any good pianist, typist, cook, designer, soccer player… Ask anyone who is at the top of any game how they got there, and you will hear one refrain over and over even if it only echoes in their statements:  They practiced. They came before everyone else, they concentrated on learning to do each step not just right but perfectly while the actual practice was going, and they stayed after regular practice to work more. Top students spend hours reading and studying. Their success is no mystery. They practice.

And the lesson transfers so easily to every area of our lives. Want to be more patient?  Practice patience in the small situations so you’ll be ready in the big situations. Want to be a better friend? Practice it. Want your kids to say “Please” and “Thank you”? Then they must practice it.

That’s the key. It may take 2,000 times, but if the desire is there, proficiency will follow. I can’t play basketball to save my life (too afraid of the other players on the court), but I can shoot the most beautiful set-shot and the most beautiful jump shot you’ve ever seen. Why?

Because I practiced.

(©2005 Staci Stallings)

What a great lesson. And if you read my Time Management post this week, you’ll know it’s incredibly timely for me! But we won’t go into that! 

Your turn: What situation are you in, or were you in, that required the kind of committed practice that Staci talks about?

Staci Stallings is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Check out Staci’s brand new release…

  Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

 To Protect & Serve
The Courage Series, Book 1

To save other’s lives, they will risk their own

Buy it on Amazon Kindle
Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook:

“To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff.”

-Cindy Reiger

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

3 thoughts on “Practice

  1. I don’t follow basketball much, but when I wrote this article, Lebron was all the rage. 🙂 Feel free to substitute your favorite… cook, guitarist, pianist, batter, fielder, quarterback, and yes, even basketball player! 🙂 Thanks Marji!


  2. Lebron James – really? My dear boy would disown me if I posted a pic of him on my blog. So I opted for an equally (?) outstanding player and Dear Boy’s favorite (although I’m partial to Jason Terry). Oh and Dirk has a championship ring. James doesn’t – yet. (Although he might have earned one by this time next month.) Just sayin’.