How One Author Used This Universally Available Method To Sharpen His Writing

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How does one get better faster?

Deliberate practice and consistency are the left-jab and right-straights of getting better. Adding stakes will level you up further, like developing an impregnable guard with footwork.

On Adding Stakes

As a long-time fan of the Tim Ferriss show and of Cal Newport‘s books (see my writings on Deep Work, A World Without Email, & Digital Minimalism), I was thrilled to see they joined forces recently on Tim’s Podcast. It is another useful and entertaining episode produced by Tim.

One topic that stood out to me was how Cal used stakes early in his career to develop his writing. He cited having an editor to write for as the moment he leveled up his game. Knowing that his writing could be rejected by the publication forced him to learn more about sentence structure, pacing, and editing. All things that, let’s say, a blogger would not necessarily concern themselves with since they are the final approver of their own work.

The added stakes, the chance of losing, forced Cal into a heightened state of deliberate practice. Getting better even faster than he would have if he continued to blog alone.

How does one add stakes?

I plan to add stakes to my writing development by submitting an essay to another site.

You can also add stakes to your public speaking by volunteering to run a section of a meeting at work or volunteering to facilitate a session for an organization you volunteer with.

The best Jiu-Jitsu athletes I know get so good by signing up for a competition. If you’re a runner, sign up for a race.

Host a dinner to level up your cooking.

You can become a better photographer by taking an online class, and then volunteering to shoot some photos on your family vacation…your aunts will definitely let you know if you did a bad job. The stakes will never be higher ;).

If you are looking to truly get better at something consider finding a way to raise the stakes by adding in the chance of failure. This will elevate your training and accelerate your development.

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