How to Use Deliberate Practice to Become a Better Writer - Benjamin McEvoy
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To get great at Writing, as in any craft, you should just do a few things:
Practice (Consistently) -> Get Feedback -> Iterate. This process is considered Deliberate Practice.
For writing specifically, shoot for a time quota as opposed to a number quota. That way, what matters is the time put in, as opposed to words put out. On a rough day you might get less words, and on good days more words, than average. By focusing on time and not words, you don’t get discouraged.
# Learning Technique
Writing is a craft, and thus can be broken down into different components that compose the whole. Writing Fundamental Skills.
In order to do deliberate practice with Writing, you have to practice these skills like Targeted Exercise for muscle groups. And iterate on feedback.
Another great way to improve Prose is to learn by imitation. Copy authors that you admire by hand. Read a paragraph over twice, carefully, and then try to recreate it using their words and punctuation. Also has the benefit of making you a more careful reader.
# Be a Deliberate Reader
- Read carefully! Take your time with it if you find something you love. You need to immerse yourself in writing.
- And if you can, perform an analysis of works that you admire. Why do they work? How do they work?
# Think of Yourself as an Apprentice Craftsman
- It might be helpful to take a year or two to just work on your Craft without worrying too much about getting published. Just focus on the journey. In college sports, this is known as a Redshirt Year.
Practice —> Feedback —> Adapt, Learn, Practice
My vows were strangely specific and, I would still argue, pretty realistic. I didn’t make a promise that I would be a successful writer, because I sensed that success was not under my control. Nor did I promise that I would be a great writer, because I didn’t know if I could be great. Nor did I give myself any time limits for the work, like, “If I’m not published by the time I’m thirty, I’ll give up on this dream and go find another line of work.” In fact, I didn’t put any conditions or restrictions on my path at all. My deadline was never.
- If she HAD made those vows, Writing would have turned into a Finite Game.
Instead, I simply vowed to the universe that I would write forever, regardless of the result. I promised that I would try to be brave about it, and grateful, and as uncomplaining as I could possibly be. I also promised that I would never ask writing to take care of me financially, but that I would always take care of it – meaning that I would always support us both, by any means necessary. I did not ask for any external rewards for my devotion; I just wanted to spend my life as near to writing as possible – forever close to that source of all my curiosity and contentment – and so I was willing to make whatever arrangements needed to be made in order to get by.
- In this quote, Elizabeth Gilbert proves herself to be an Infinite Player. She is not playing to win, she is playing to keep playing.
Deliberate Practice is the key to becoming a great writer. Break down your writing into its components and practice each one, get feedback on them, and iterate. Be a deliberate reader and don’t worry about success or failure but focus on the journey. Think of yourself as an apprentice craftsman and take your time with it. Lastly, be an infinite player and remember that you are playing to keep playing, not to win.