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I was translating a document in another language, then I saw this famous quotation from Will Smith that is provided here.

The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft. - Will Smith

I don't exactly get the bold part, can anybody paraphrase it for me?

I have checked the Longman Dictionary and also Googled about that, but still, don't understand the meaning of "beating on your craft".

This is the results I found in the dictionary:

  • Beat on/against/at etc: to hit against something many times or continuously.

example: Rain beating on the windows.

  • Craft: the skill needed in a particular profession.

example: The musician spends years perfecting his craft.

I thought that maybe it means when you work and spend hours and hours you are gradually developing your skills like a blacksmith that makes a perfect sword with continuous beats of a hammer.

Is it true?

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  • hammer away at would have been better English. Will Smith is not exactly a good speaker.
    – Lambie
    Feb 5, 2021 at 17:00

2 Answers 2

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To "beat on" something means to pound or hammer on it. I haven't heard this particular usage before, but "hammering" is often synonymous with hard work. "Hammer away at" is an idiom that means to keep at something continuously.

Will is basically saying that you need to continually work at your chosen craft to become good at it.

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He meant always beating the best version of himself! 💪🏼

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