Writer’s Big Year: Off the rails

I’m “working well,” “putting in the hours,” “making progress” . . . but in truth I’ve “lost my way” on the focus to “write the damned thing.” Research for future chapters, all too necessary, has swamped drafting, this writer’s core task. All those clichés in quotation marks hide the fact that this Big Year, wonderful as it has been in spurring book momentum, is no Hollywood “fairytale success story.”

So . . . I renew this Big Year, right here, right now. Clearly I need to institute a new plan for this year (and next year), but first, let me write.

Improve? Get a coach . . .

Somehow this advice – from a fine Heleo interview: “Daniel Pink and Anders Ericsson: The Secrets of Top Performers and What It Takes to Be Truly Great” – makes me uncomfortable.

Daniel Pink: “I’m sure people come to you for advice. What do you tell people when they say, ‘I’ve seen your work. I really want to get better’?”

Anders Ericsson: “Try to find a teacher who has trained individuals like yourself to achieve the level of performance that you want to achieve.”

Why is a Big Year good for you?: One justification . . .

Some more gold from this Heleo interview: “Daniel Pink and Anders Ericsson: The Secrets of Top Performers and What It Takes to Be Truly Great.”

Daniel Pink asks: “Does deliberate practice mean doing something every single day?” To which Anders Ericsson responds: “If you can make practice a habit, that’s going to make it a lot easier to engage in.” Enough said?

He goes on to caution: “It’s also important that, when you start out, you don’t try to do four or five hours. Anybody who wants to do a marathon and then goes out and runs for four or five hours is going to lie in bed for a week. You need to accept gradual change.”

Daniel Pink interviews Anders Ericsson

If you’ve read Anders Ericsson’s “Peak” and not experienced some puzzlement on exactly how to “get better by practice,” I don’t think you’re reading carefully. There is something subtle about what Ericsson prescribes. This Heleo interview by Daniel Pink, himself a thinker on this topic – “Daniel Pink and Anders Ericsson: The Secrets of Top Performers and What It Takes to Be Truly Great” – provides some light.

First, you need to note this: “The advantage in some domains is really striking. In downhill skiing, if you haven’t started by age seven, there’s no example of somebody who’s made it into the international top hundred.”

Then: “Deliberate practice is when you have a one-on-one teaching situation with a coach or music teacher—that teacher can assess where you are and what things can help you improve. Here are the training activities that you can be doing by yourself for ten to twenty hours in the week until you see the music teacher again. You can see how somebody’s performance changes. Two weeks ago they couldn’t do this, but now they can. This gradually builds up, and eventually, with the right teacher, allows you to reach very high levels of performance.”

Very few of us will sign onto this kind of regime.