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While I agree with much of your article, it's interesting to me that you cite this tweet:

Building products, writing, and painting are not mental excercises, they are physical ones.

Reading to improve is like watching someone else workout – it does almost nothing for you.

To run better, run. To paint better, paint. To write better, write. To build better, build.

I certainly agree that practice is the core of all increase in skill. However, I've found that the differentiation factor of my skills comes from being someone who reads, who looks for better ways to run. From being someone who constantly reflects on the practice that occurs. This is something that's well supported by research (the notion of deliberate practice).

Deliberate Practice: http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracti...




OP here. This is a good point. While I certainly think there is value in reading _how_ to do things better, IMO there is an upper limit on this. I more often see people reading about X, Y, or Z, never to actually take action, rather than the other way around. I also think you learn iteratively by doing.

However, I do agree that it is necessary to take a step back and learn from others along the way.


I write fiction in my spare time, and at least anecdotally, I think the obsessive readers, the most well-read folks in the workshops/classes I've done have consistently been the best writers. I know writers who have written millions of words, but don't read enough to pick up an intuitive sense of what good looks like.

I'm often astonished, when I read old interviews with great writers in The Paris Review's Writers at Work series, just how well-read the masters are. They've read everything. Soaked it all in. And writers borrow, copy, steal, adapt, all the time.

Of course, I agree with the heart of the matter, that just doing the thing is most important, but I do wonder if it is sufficient.


Are you suggesting that scientists shouldn't read about the latest developments in their field? They should just start from scratch and try to figure out everything without any prior knowledge or learning from others?


Clearly she is not suggesting that, as nobody reasonable would ever suggest that.

> Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.


My take is there is reading as doing and reading as watching. Reading the research of other scientists is reading as doing. Reading about how other people become scientists is reading as watching.


Why not both? Practice is useless without direction, direction is useless without practice.


Everything I've achieved has been because I read voraciously about it as I was learning.


A lot of practice that's not directed properly is useless, especially for complex mental skills. For example, I learned Java's stream syntax to the point where I wrote an article that thousands of people read. Do I remember a single thing? No, because I don't use Java every day. I just remember that it sucked compared to LINQ because every collection type had a different method to turn it into a stream. That's it. From weeks of study, practice, and an article. Mostly a complete waste - if it didn't build into my rep, it would be a complete waste.


I agree. I had significant better results in diverse areas as leading teams, cooking and body building after reading books in those areas.




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