Stephen Hara

Volume of Practice

Published on 3/24/2024

  • post
  • microessay
  • personal improvement

Today I came across a neat video from the channel Odysseas on using mini-essays as a learning tool. I've been thinking of doing something similar, but it was nice additional validation of the idea, and I appreciated hearing about someone's extensive experience with it! So, I thought, why not try my own?

One of the major concepts this video presents that I resonated with was the fact that writing mini-essays is a simple way to bulk up one's volume of writing practice. In my readings and personal experience, practice volume is the most critical piece of learning a new skill - be it software development, language, math, music, basically anything! Malcolm Gladwell's idea of "10,000 hours to mastery" could even be seen as another endorsement of this proposition.

Another core philosophy I've integrated in recent years is to resist the social pressure to specialize, which I picked up from "Range" by David Epstein. This may seem at odds with a strong emphasis on prioritizing volume of practice, but I think they fit well as complementary ideas.

What makes practice so important in my view? There's so much necessary information you can only get from trying something. Is it fun? Are you picking it up well enough? How do you feel about the practicals - the tools, the community, the costs of entry, and so on? In other words, all of the things that could be make or break for your continued practice of the skill, how do you feel about them?

Maybe this wasn't the best use of a mini-essay, since I kind of just got on a soapbox for a few seconds. But hey, I had fun! I like writing, and any excuse to do more of it and not have to think too hard about what I'm writing is, well, it's more volume! Clearly, as per the subject of this mini essay, I can't complain about that!