On Writing Better

Interestingly enough a few days ago I posted (or rather, re-posted) an article of mine called If I Had to Do It Over…, which starts:

I never planned to be a writer. And yet here I am. I kinda wish I’d approached a few things differently along the way.

It’s an article that’s been revised a time or two on Ask Leo!, and is always well received. This time ’round it was about republishing on an different platform in the hopes of additional eyeballs. You know, marketting.

I’m also in the middle of reading “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise“. In it they describe what they call “deliberate practice” as a common thread among truly peak performers. In a nutshell:

  • Deliberate practice develops skills that other people have already figured out how to do and for which effective training techniques have been established.
  • Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities.
  • Deliberate practice involves well-defined, specific goals and often involves improving some aspect of the target performance; it is not aimed at some vague overall improvement.
  • Deliberate practice is deliberate, that is, it requires a person’s full attention and conscious actions.
  • Deliberate practice involves feedback and modification of efforts in response to that feedback.
  • Deliberate practice both produces and depends on effective mental representations.
  • Deliberate practice nearly always involves building or modifying previously acquired skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills and working to improve them specifically; over time this step-by-step improvement will eventually lead to expert performance.

– Excerpted from the book

But the quote that really resonated with me was actually included as part of the first bullet point: “The practice regimen should be designed and overseen by a teacher or coach who is familiar with the abilities of expert performers and with how those abilities can best be developed.”

So two things came together for me:

  1. I’d wished I’d started taking writing more seriously sooner.
  2. To truly become better at something you really want a teacher (or coach or mentor…)

I’d already started this “write for myself every day” thing. That’s, consciously at least, unrelated.

It wasn’t until just recently that I made the realization that it’s never too late. That I could, and would like to, continue to improve my skills as a writer.

Deliberate practice seems the path.

Now, to find myself that coach….