There are only 4 steps:
- Do it
- Get feedback on how you suck
- Study how to improve at where you suck
People tell me this is obvious. But it’s ok to be obvious. Knowing and doing are different. Many people know many obvious things they fail to try or do, despite their knowledge.
I’m often asked for advice about writing. My first question is always “how much do you write now?” If they say, “I don’t really,” I say “Go write something. Anything. Then get feedback on it from someone who knows more than you.” There’s often a look of great fear. They’re afraid to even try. Their ego has made doing even a small task very expensive, when it should be very cheap. Their expectations for their own work should naturally be low and useful feedback is easy to find. It’s their ego that’s in the way more than anything else.
If they tell me they’ve written, I ask them how they think they need to improve. If they don’t know, I tell them to get feedback from someone who sucks less than they do. None of this is complicated. It’s not even expensive. The problem is everyone wants to skip steps 1 through 4. No one in history has ever become good at something by skipping these steps, yet everyone wants to try.
Another good question is: how many hours are you willing to spend to become good? It won’t necessarily take 10,000 hours, as that number is mostly just satisfying to say. But it will take many hours. How many? Depends on how good you want to be, and how lucky you are.
For most skills you can do #2 and #3 on your own. Read your own writing. Watch a video of yourself speaking or playing basketball or whatever it is you want to get good at. If you have read good writing, and watched good speakers, you can easily identify your bad habits. A coach or a teacher can help you move through these steps faster, but you can do them on your own, for free, with enough courage and persistence, two things everyone knows about, but few people have.