My wife is an amazing cook. I am an acceptable cook. The process of me learning to cook has taken 20 plus years and is ongoing.
I make very good eggs – both fried and scrambled. My wife and daughter actually praise my scrambled eggs. I do a slow cook, stirring them frequently and usually toss in things like Genoa salami or a bit of fresh parmesan cheese.
Making fried eggs the way we like them took some practice. My wife and I have eggs almost every morning (my cholesterol is great) and I probably make them at least three days per week. When I first started making them, they’d stick to the pan or be over or under cooked, but I kept making them. Now they come out just right, sliding easily out of the pan, the white firm and the yoke spilling out when I cut into it. I’ve mastered making fried eggs.
I practiced, I failed, I learned, I practiced some more, and eventually I had perfect eggs. The same is true for many things that we try, whether it’s my daughter practicing her trumpet, my uncle taking pictures (it’s a hobby, but I think it should have been his career), or me writing blog posts. I don’t buy the theory Malcolm Gladwell popularized that if you practice something for 10,000 hours you can master it. You can practice something badly for those 10,000 hours and you won’t be a master.
Yes, you absolutely have to practice, and practice a lot, but you have to also learn from your inevitable mistakes. You have to be willing to make those mistakes, even share them with others so that you can get valuable feedback (note, share with appropriate people). I’m a good writer, but not a great one, yet, but I keep writing and sharing and learning from my mistakes.
The thing about all of that practicing and learning and mastering is that you build confidence along the way. We just had Canadian Thanksgiving and my daughter requested that I make stuffing. I looked up a few recipes and didn’t like any of them as they were so I took a bit from a few of them, a bit of advice from my wife, and added my own flair. What I got was a 10-year-old singing the praises of my stuffing.
The practice and mastering of the eggs and other things I’ve learned to cook over the years gave me the confidence to leave the beaten path of recipes, and experiment. This isn’t the first time I’ve done that, but every time I do I learn a little more and my confidence in cooking grows.
I could sit and revise blog posts over and over before putting them out there, but I’d end up only publishing a couple of times per month instead of twice per week. I’m putting in the practice and learning from the experience whether in the kitchen or at the computer.