"How often should I practice?" "What do I do if I don't have time to practice?" "What do you do when you don't feel like practicing?" "What if you're not feeling very good about your playing and don't feel like practicing?"
These and similar questions have been asked of me over the years and the answer is varied on this one. We all know that practicing at anything in life makes you better at it. This in particular, applies to guitar. Frequently, we're all busy in our lives and it's hard to find time to practice. Or, you went to the local guitar shop and you saw a 15 year old sitting in the corner of the store wailing on the guitar like John Petrucci and the balloon of confidence in your ability to play the guitar took a big needle prick and deflated all over the place - and now you don't feel like practicing at all. So, we've got two issues here - finding time to play the guitar and what to do when you don't feel good about your playing. I'll address each one separately here:
Finding time to practice:
What I've found personally with practicing is to build it into your daily routine. We all know that if we are able to build structure in our lives and become a little more organized, we are able to fit things in that we normally wouldn't fit in if we were disorganized. So, find a time each day that works best for you - after the kids have gone to bed, or right after you get home from school, or first thing in the morning before your day begins. You don't have to practice every day (I personally take one day off a week where I don't even touch a guitar unless I want to) but I know for a fact that practicing as little as 15 minutes each day is 10 times better than cramming 2 hours into one day a week. If you practice infrequently, you will forget what you worked on last time and your fingers will take longer to warm up and build up the strength to do the things you really want to do on guitar. Daily practice will beat cramming every time.
If you want to spend time with loved ones and play guitar too, what I've done in the past is play guitar on the couch while we watch a TV show. This primarily works for Electric guitar players here as an Acoustic can be pretty loud. My practice amp has a headphone jack, so I put on my headphones and watch whatever, but you get the general idea here. If you think about it, I'm sure you can find ways that this can work for you too.
Not feeling good about your playing and finding it hard to practice:
If I had as many fingers and toes for how many times I've felt this in the past 33 years, I'd have a hundred digits! Which would probably make me a heck of a guitar player now that I think about it. :) Seriously, this is something that we all can feel as individuals and not just on guitar. But what I've come to realize over the years is that playing guitar is a journey and we all have our own routes to take for that journey. Some people are further down their own paths on their own journey but their journey is not your journey. What's more important is enjoying your own journey and not worrying about where other people are at on theirs. If you perceive that someone is better than you, than good for them. This has no impact on you or your playing. Get back to enjoying your own journey and make sure you smell the flowers on the way! You've got your own places to go that only you can get to. :)