I just got off a webinar with the amazingly brilliant Tex Thompson (you know she’s good if I used an adverb & an adjective!) I’m not giving away her secrets here (go take her classes), but one thing she said clicked hard with me.

I work with new writers a lot. They ask me why writing seems so easy when you read it, and becomes so impossible when you try to do it. I never had an answer that satisfied them, or me. Until now.

Tex explained through a psychology learning model called the Four Stages of Competence. They are:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence – We’ve all been there. You suck so bad, you don’t even know you suck. It’s a 3-year-old, thinking they can drive a car because they understand it involves a steering wheel.
  2. Conscious Incompetence – You suck, and you know it. This was me, in high school algebra.
  3. Conscious Competence – I call this the, ‘I think I can’, step. If you try reeeeeally hard, you can do it.
  4. Unconscious Competence – When you leave work thinking about a problem, and before you know it you’re in your garage, and don’t remember driving there.

Okay, still with me? I’m about to blow your mind.

You go through these stages with EVERY SINGLE aspect of writing.

  • Storytelling
  • POV
  • Dialogue
  • Plotting
  • Characterization
  • Grammar
  • Emotion
  • Writing action
  • Editing
  • How to publish (either NY or indie)
  • Marketing
  • And about another thousand I can’t think of right now

No WONDER this is so hard!

But here’s the good part:

  1. You may naturally be good at some aspects, and start on stage 3
  2. You may be on stage 1 on one aspect, but 4 in a bunch of others
  3. You move through the stages at different speeds
  4. You can chart your progress on each. That builds confidence.

And, the most important piece for me is that with a little analysis, you can highlight the parts you need to work on, and if you focus on those one at a time, it will speed up your learning process.

You can actually chart out a path through the dark and murky waters that will get you to your port of Authordom faster and with less pesky things like shipwrecks, desert islands, and volleyballs named Wilson.

What do you do to speed up your learning process?

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