“The deeper scientists dig, the more they find that skill comes from something called deliberate practice.”
Dr. Carl McGown
Improvement: we all crave it. We want to get to the next level in our writing and feel the satisfaction that comes from knowing that we’re deepening our craft. But how do we do it? How do we get better?
Some would say it takes talent. But Coach Mike Tully (and a host of other experts) contend that dramatic improvement has “…nothing to do with innate ability. It has to do with learning how the great performers go about their business, and modeling their actions, attitudes, and habits….”
In his goldmine of a book called The Improvement Factor: How Winners Turn Practice into Success, seasoned coach Mike Tully offers strategies for achieving world-class improvement in any field. As he puts it, “Improvement isn’t something that just happens. It comes from really, really hard work: conscious effort, well-designed practice, thousands of repetitions and tons of feedback”
The roadmap to success is the same, whether you’re an athlete or an author. To improve, says Coach Tully, you need to engage in what’s called “deliberate practice.” In a nutshell, this means concentrating on carefully targeted activities using consistent repetition and feedback. Here’s an overview of four principles of “deliberate practice:”
1 Specificity: Make your practice as gamelike as possible: If you want to improve at public speaking, for example, practice in front of an audience (My take: If you want to improve your writing, don’t just use exercises like writing to prompts, but work on actual stories from beginning to end).
2 Easy to hard: Begin your practice session with an easy skill, then work towards something more difficult. Make sure you’re working just beyond your comfort zone (My take: Make it a point to push yourself a little farther in every writing session).
3 Practice short and smart: It’s better to do a little a lot than a lot a little (My take: Commit to writing every day, not just in occasional spurts).
4 Feedback: Pay attention to results and make adjustments (My take: Go beyond your writing group; get your work out into the world and keep revising it).
The Improvement Factor is packed with valuable, action-oriented advice that we can use to improve and grow as writers. Check it out onAmazon.com — and write on!