Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

How Can You Improve Your Writing?


This will be the 70th post I’ve done with the Tag, “Writing Advice”… 

( If you take that last link, you might see this post at the top of the list—just scroll down past it :-)

Writing Advice is a tricky topic

As self-publishing gains traction, along with the “experts” shouting about how to be “successful”, there are the writing “gurus” giving you advice that you might want to erect a protective barrier against

If anyone asked me about the best thing to do to improve one’s writing, I’d say Read More; but, then there’d have to be a discussion about What to read—certainly, not most books about how to write—yet more certainly, lots of whatever the writer thought they wanted to write (and, I’m not necessarily talking about “genre”…)

Even though most writers try many things that don’t help them improve their writing, there’s an insidious meme that’s invaded the Internet that goes something like: “To improve your writing, just keeping writing, no matter what!”

Well

Perhaps

Perhaps, not

There are many reasons to recommend Jane Friedman’s blog; but, today’s is to read the guest post, If You Just Keep Writing, Will You Get Better?

It’s written by Barbara Baig, who has a rather unique perspective on learning to write

Here are some excerpts:

“How can a training approach used by top golfers, divers, ballet dancers, surgeons, and many other people possibly help writers?”

“…brain scientists used to believe that each person’s brain—and, therefore, his abilities—were fixed at birth.”

“But since the 1990s brain scientists have discovered that the human brain, even the adult brain, is far more adaptable than anyone ever imagined.”

This next quote is Key to understanding the method being discussed

“In their studies of experts, Ericsson and his colleagues have shown that none of them achieved mastery simply by doing the same thing over and over.”

O.K., just a couple more:

“When most of us think about practice, we’re imagining what Ericsson calls naive practice….we need a different kind of practice, one Ericsson calls deliberate practice….deliberate practice—is not easy, and it’s not fun. It requires setting goals for our practice sessions, maintaining focus as we practice, getting feedback on our practice, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, developing effective mental representations of the skills we’re practicing, and learning from models of excellence.”

“The right kind of practice, Ericsson tells us (along with perseverance and ongoing effort), can change our brains. It can turn us into the writers we’ve always wanted to be. It might even change our lives.”

There’s a book Ms Baig is talking about called Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (And, that last link will get you Free World-Wide Shipping)

Transparency Disclosure: I’ve not read the book; but, Ms Baig’s full article makes me want to read it ( …if I weren’t gearing up for a new feature on this blog (starting July 22nd)—writing an original short story for posting each and every Friday :-)
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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