Repeatedly finding & losing correct motion

Does anyone else have issues with frequently finding the correct picking motion and then losing it again? I feel like I have a mini moment of clarity every few days where suddenly a picking exercise feels super smooth and easy, but this moment only lasts for a few seconds, and then I “lose” the feeling of that motion. My technique reverts to bad string hopping habits, my arm tenses up, and I can’t seem to get back to the smoothness of the correct motion.

When I lose the motion, I’ll try a variety of things to get back to it: practicing something else (non-picking) for a while, taking a break to stretch and relax, slowing down the tempo, increasing the tempo, etc. I haven’t found anything that reliably helps. The moments of correct motion seem to happen randomly. Most of my picking practice is faster than string hopping can keep up (16ths at 144bpm), so it’s really obvious when the motion is correct. I also try to do picking exercises in multiple 5 minute sets with other non-picking exercises between those 5 minute sets.

I’ve been doing 30 minutes total of pure picking exercises every day for about 2 months now, and it doesn’t seem like these moments of clarity are happening any more frequently or lasting longer. Am I missing something that will help to lock in the feeling of the correct motion? Or does this perceived lack of progress sound like a normal part of the process?

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I can relate to this, although I am not a fan of exercises. I always played the songs I wanted to play or rather the corresponding solos.

I had about three years where I was in this constant finding and losing state. I remember when I first found the motion that worked for me. I sat down one evening to practice and it was like somebody hit a switch and I was in shred mode. I guess that was early 2017 or late 2016. I was so euphoric that I played a few hours nonstop only to find myself the day after struggling to recreate the experience. Today, I have a more consistent picking ability, even able to pick some 3 NPS stuff at a pretty fast tempo (like 200 bpm 16th notes and sometimes even around 215).

Over time, I am sure that it will get more consistent and I believe that this constant change is normal. But I doubt that it will take you three years, because I never practiced with a purpose, it was a little bit mindless sometimes.

Edit: Just wanted to add, I still have days where I don’t get the level I get on most other days. I think that is completely normal (I mean, this happens with other things as well). What I found was that I worried a lot about my hand position and tried to watch closely where I place it etc… But I am not sure if that was really helpful. Now I just pick the guitar up and most of the time everything is fine. It got somehow natural. I guess that is the point where you have to get to. And I think you will get there over time. Thinking about technique and hand placement and which stroke escapes and so on is sure helpful, but I guess you should not overthink that as well.

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I can relate to this at times. I make an effort to warm up at slower speeds, with deliberate picking accents, larger movements initially. One of my old instructors told me to always pick hard on the accents, and i find this always seems to get my RH ready for action. Sometimes I emphasize the upstroke…

Some days your focus will be better than others, but i find that if i make an effort to warm up, an collect my technique, rather than “go for it” immediately, i can consistently find my faster picking motions easier. The heavy accents really help me.

I feel like this was the norm for me for a good while (years), where the “good days” I could play some pretty hard / fast stuff, but “bad days” were much worse. What has helped me improve on the bad days is to document the good days as much as possible: video, pictures of how I’m holding the pick, the guitar, etc.

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