All new skills require practice and entail a period of doing things badly before they can be done well. In some cases, you may find joy in the practice, even if you’re not as good as you’d like to be. Perhaps you learned how to catch a ball with a parent, and it was fun even when you kept fumbling.
Other times, the repetition and failed attempts may be tedious and frustrating. Learning to touch type typically involves repeating the same 2 to 4 keystrokes hundreds of times, which translates into a lot of time typing reams of gobbledygook. This is rarely fun for anyone, unless the practice can be turned into a game.
It may help to know what is actually happening inside your brain when you practice.
When you begin to learn a new skill, you have to concentrate hard and consciously think about what you’re doing. It takes a lot of energy! With repetition, your brain starts to build neural pathways — physical connections between neurons, formed to facilitate that specific skill. The more you repeat the action, the more connections grow, and the stronger that neural pathway becomes. The stronger the neural pathway becomes, the easier it is to perform that skill. With enough repetition, the skill can seem almost effortless.
This physical aspect of learning is true whether the new skill is a physical one (like riding a bike or playing an instrument) or a cognitive one (like playing chess or doing mental math).
Knowing that there is a physical component to learning a new skill can reduce the frustration of making mistakes. No one starts lifting weights and expects they’ll instantly become stronger. We know that it takes time and repetition to strengthen our muscles. Physically building your brain is no different. When a new skill feels difficult, remind yourself that you are physically growing new connections in your brain, and that the process of growing neural pathways takes time.