Progression is something that we all thrive off of and enjoy. It's often seen as a very positive thing as it should be, but there is a negative side to progression that is quite common. There are ways to cope well with the negativity that comes along with progression, but before we discuss that we need to understand how progression works. What you must realize is that progression in scratching tends to happen in incremental steps. It often takes many twists and turns before something comes out just right, so when a moment of clarity hits you and it all comes together that is actually the result of many smaller steps of progression that lead to that experience.
It really boils down to replacing inaccuracies with correct technique. Often times there are multiple things that are going wrong within any given thing you're working on. Not only do you have to correct these things, but you need to further correct the so called correct way of doing things as you're likely to still be somewhat off from what is truly accurate. This means that you'll be spending much more time doing things incorrectly than otherwise. This leads to developing bad habits that you'll be working regularly to break and replace with good habits (accurate technique).
Unfortunately this is where progression is mixed with regression which is the unfortunate side of progression. It's very similar to the expression, "Old habits die hard." Considering all of this, it's even more devastating to realize that we're mostly unconscious of letting our old habits get the best of us despite learning good habits to replace them with. When this happens it's typical to get upset and feel like all your hard work wasn't worth it. It's only natural to feel puzzled about not being able to do something that we just did moments before.
While there is no miracle cure for this issue there are things that can be done. One of the most important things you can do is always be prepared to write about your major moments of progress as they happen. Yes that's right. Actually stop what you're doing and write down exactly what took place. While it would seem better to keep attempting to do the same thing over and over again after it happened, it can cause too many distractions as your old habits can creep in, adding confusion to what actually worked in the first place. Writing things out brings clarity in your scratching that otherwise wouldn't be there and gives you something to focus on so you can be much more aware of what to do and what not to do.
The Big Picture Gets Even Bigger
The beauty of this strategy beyond making it easier to cope with regression is it actually helps to speed up your overall progression. This is because, once accustomed to this approach, you will be spending far less time getting stuck on bad habits that sabotage your progress and far more time on what does work. This is even truer over longer periods of time. Think of it like a high interest savings account where large deposits are made regularly instead of withdrawals, allowing the interest to yield much higher amounts of money for you as years go by.
A Time and a Place
Sometimes progression will hit you at times where stopping to write about it won't be ideal or even appropriate. Such situations would be jam sessions or live performances. Make sure to fully realize the difference between scratch practice and performance. Understand that what I have laid out for you in this article is a practice strategy. Jamming is a time to let all your hard work shine for you and express yourself to the best of your abilities without having to worry about further improvement. Don't worry if anything passes you by during those times. As long as you are on top of things during practice you'll get more than enough progression out of yourself.
You can always reflect afterwards about your performance and what allowed you to excel. I strongly recommend recording your scratch jams whenever possible. You may not always be able to recall what you'd like to since there can be so much to think about during a performance situation. Watching and listening back to what you did can be an excellent way to jog your memory as well as capture the joy of your performance.