One of the most interesting blog posts I have seen of late is one by James Clear breaking down deliberate practice. He uses the example of Ben Hogan and his deliberate golf practices, but it is equally applicable to creatives.
Thinking about how to engage in deliberate practice as a fiction writer is an interesting exercise. I decided to break it down like this.
To be a better writer, I need to write more.
First Goal – more words, faster.
To be a better writer, I need to show not tell.
Second Goal – eliminate use of passive voice.
To be a better writer, I need to engage the reader’s emotions.
Third Goal – ratchet up the emotional stakes for the protagonist.
Within each goal, I decided to try the 10 day sprint method. So simply setting my handy timer and then tracking my word count for ten days. After that, evaluate what is my word count per hour?
Next 10 day sprint, plan out my writing for 5 minutes before each session. Write with my timer. Track the word count. Am I getting faster?
Next 10 day spring, using dictation for my daily writing and the timer. Track my word count for 10 days. Evaluate again, am I still faster?
That adds up to 30 days of daily writing, and a measurable way to determine how much output I have and whether my rate of output is increasing. More writing is just more writing for the first part of the exercise. The second goal is to improve quality. Again, I can break this into three 10 day sprints to work on just moving the action along without passive voice. And so on.
That’s all deliberate practice is, small techniques that you work on improving and then daisy chaining them together. Spring is coming. Plant your tulip bulbs one at a time. Eventually, you’ll have an ocean in bloom.