Question 39

Trying to answer all 75 writing prompts from Ness Labs.

What are the best ways to acquire a new skill?

I think the first thing to do here is establishing that “best” is my personal opinion. Following that, let’s get into the question.

A skill is defined quite simply as “the ability to do something well” 1, “well” is a completely subjective word we can quickly derive that the “best way” to acquire a new skill will be, as expected, completely subjective to a person.

I find skills to be formed through deliberate practice. It is not enough to simply repeat a skill, one must really focus on what they want to bring out of a session of practice. Taking my want to become a better writer as an example, it will not simply be enough to mindlessly write a few passages a day in order to become “skilled” at writing. The skillfulness comes from the attention to your mistakes and actively improving on them in the future. As such, the first ingredient to learning a new skill: deliberate practice.

Moving onwards, mastering deliberate practice requires a way to identify and learn from your mistakes, learning from mistakes is the easy part. Identifying where you went wrong either requires you to have a lucky guess (Do something, then do something a little bit differently and try to compare the two outcomes) or have someone that is already good to oversee your progress and lead you. So the second ingredient: a mentor or a guide.

The third and last ingredient is the least exciting one, the most boring one, the one no one wants to hear again: you need time.

That’s it! Following deliberate practice over a long course of time with the oversight of a mentor, you’d be able to acquire any new skill, no matter what it is. Is it “best”? No idea! I think it likely is the most reliable method.