What makes practice deliberate?

Here’s an experiment I suggest – while typing out a long email, try drafting it first on a notepad file and then copy it over to your email client. You would be surprised by how many red underlines your text would receive.

We all have plenty of practice with written communication. And yet, those number of hours do not necessarily translate to drafts with better spelling.

There is more to practice than merely the total number of hours. The psychologist Anders Ericsson studied how practice needs to be deliberate to attain mastery in a particular field. One of the defining features of deliberate practice is to make mistakes and learn from them through immediate feedback. Sure, we rectify spellings on a word-processor, but we don’t expend any mental effort in the process.

Here’s the rule of thumb – if you aren’t stretching yourself enough to make mistakes or investing cognitive effort into correcting them, you are merely sustaining your current level of proficiency. You aren’t really improving.

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