Timothy Ferriss talks here about how to become world class in any skill within 6-12 months.
It’s a great talk and it touches on a lot of things I’m about - minimalism, and optimizing progress. And it talks about complex skills that are composed of a number of smaller skills. Conglomerate skills that have a tendency to easily frustrate people because there’s not something you can latch onto. Cooking was one such skill for Ferriss, and the reason why he called his book on mastery The 4-Hour Chef.
His methodology is DiSSS.
Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes
Deconstruct a complicated task, focusing in the first 5 sessions to avoid basic mistakes people make in the task. Select the minimal skill that the majority of the larger skill relies upon (the Pareto Principle), question sequencing with the knowledge that in many cases doing things out of order might be better, and up the stakes to increase behavioral change through motivational factors. He adds that repetition of deconstructed skills when it’s not for real (learning how to sautee with coffee beans on a carpeted floor) is key, as is the belief that it can be done, questioning best practices, and focusing on removal and minimalism.
My question: how do I apply this to writing?
After brainstorming and thinking a lot, here’s my protocol based on my key weaknesses when writing any given article:
Research. I have a tendency to get bogged down, so I’m going to practice quickly researching articles. What do restaurants have on their menus? When were places opened. In a lot of cases it may just involve cutting and pasting in a list. I should avoid getting bogged down in research and general internet distractions.
The majority of articles are good because of transitions which meld research fragments and personal descriptions to a storyline. On my writing blog I’ve already researched an analyzed a number of transitions. So I’ll just choose transitions that work between the research points - this is also sequenced out of order, per Ferriss’s advice.
Actually writing the middle adding personal descriptions to the research and the transitions.
Doing the same for endings.
The idea with all this is that beginnings are actually not really key. I can take a lot of articles and write them from different high points in the action. But the other things are, in my opinion, key points starting from research and descending.
My plan is to ATTEMPT to do this similar to a newbie mission - 2 articles in one hour, for 2 hours. Depending on how fast I get, I want to expand that to 3 per hour for 3 hours. The key is to do this quickly yet well, working on broken up skills in order to gain familiarity and to be able to execute each part with no hesitation because I’ve done it so many times.
I believe that I will be able to pare this methodology with habituation, which is why I’m not including the Stakes aspect to this. I might be wrong, I might need it, but we’ll see. This skill pushing will constitute completion of the instance of habit exercise, i.e. a “check” for having completed my habit of writing for the day.
This might not work. I might have to do each task until it becomes the new ratchet point, and I have NO idea how long that will take. Do I need to do each part longer? Is this the growth phase, and after this 5 week cycle will I have to come up with a new daily minimum? Probably. Do I need to record the writing habit again until the daily minimum becomes a superhabit? Will Ferriss’s skill mastery methodology trump my own habit heavy methodology? I have no idea…but I’ll find out.