20 Hours: How to Learn to Write

The following is an outline of The Ten Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition from the book
20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast by Josh Kaufman. I've specifically adapted the ten principles to directly correspond with my Introduction to Creative Writing workshop and workbook. A sample of the workbook is here.

The goal of the Intro class is to accelerate your creativity and get you writing something to completion. This would be what Kaufman refers to as a "lovable project." Here are his ten principles and how they correlate to the Intro class:

1. Choose a lovable project:
    *Complete a writing project
    *Lovable means you'll acquire the skill in less time (as opposed to choosing something         to learn that you don't like).

2. Focus energy on one skill at a time: 
    *Writing my bio (if necessary, create a "Someday Maybe" list for all the other skills you'd       like to learn in order to keep your energy focused on one skill)

3. Define your target performance level:
    *I want to be good enough
    *I want to learn to enjoy the writing process
    *I want to learn how to work through the frustration that comes from learning something         new

4. Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills:
    *Use brief exercises such as:
        The one sentence bio
        The expanded bio
        Embellished memories
        Spicing up the facts
        Watch your language!
        The thesaurus is your friend

5. Obtain critical tools:
    *Something to write with
    *Something to write on
     (Lucky for you! Writing tools are simple compared to, say, building a rocket.)

6. Eliminate barriers to practice
    *Environmental distractions - TV, ringing phones, incoming email
    *Emotional blocks - fear, doubt, embarrassment

7. Make time for practice:
    *5 hours a week @ 4 weeks = 20 hours
    *Identify low-value uses of time in order to accommodate the 5 hours a week:
      Reading People magazine (even for the noble cause of character development)
      Cleaning the garage (the lengths one will go to do anything but sit down and write)
      Spending an hour looking for your favorite pen to write with

8. Create feedback loops (positive reinforcement, honest assessment, support):

(Becomes an infinite loop: Creating a literary life)

9. Practice in short bursts:
    *20 minutes at a time (set a timer)

10. Emphasize quantity and speed:
    *Don't try to be perfect (recipe for frustration)
    *Be good enough

    *Ensure you're practicing using form that's good enough to satisfy your target     performance level (accelerate creativity and complete a writing project)

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