As a performing musician, I sometimes get asked a difficult question -- how did you become proficient on your instrument? The obvious answer would be: practice, lots of practice. And of course that is suitable advice to give to anybody who is looking to learn something that is as technically demanding as playing the guitar. I am aware that we each have a unique capacity for learning new things, however simply telling a prospective guitar player to practice scales, always use a metronome, and always play for at least an hour may not always be the best advise. My point is this: establishing rigid practice habits is fine, but if I had a nickel for every hour I spent just holding a guitar and "noodling" I would have at least a month's worth of rent (and that's saying something in Santa Cruz!!!).
Allow yourself the time to become familiar with your instrument on a more subconscious level (open-tunings lend themselves well to this approach) and "practice" using your intuition and judgment as well as your metronome and chord charts. For me, music is something that exists in the head AND the heart, and I would urge anyone who is looking to pick up the guitar or ukulele or banjo or tuba to simply exercise the habit of being with or near your instrument...always. Have it around and accessible, and remember this cheesy adage: practice makes perfect, but playing makes you happy--just ask Allen Iverson!
Until next time!