I remember many years ago talking to a steel engraver who created the illustration plates for newspapers. In those days you were apprenticed to a master engraver for five years. Only after that were you qualified for the job. The first eighteen months of apprenticeship were spent drawing straight lines. Once you’d mastered this, you could then move on the perspective.

Now I’m not suggesting you need to be quite so rigorous in your training. God forbid straight lines for eighteen months! But that dedication to perfection is essential to master in your craft. In his brilliant book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell set out the 10.000 hour rule. He worked out that to be good, really good, at something you need to put at least 10.000 hours of practice. That might seem a bit daunting. And maybe it’s only 9.500 Hours. But remember, practice should be enjoyable too.

Now, as you know from the title of my book, I don’t believe in rules. But I do believe in experience. And my experience tells me he’s on to something.  As important as practice is, there’s no point in constantly practicing unless you’re perfecting whatever it is that you’re working on.

Practice only makes you perfect if you make progress.

(John Hegarty. There are no rules)