70:20:10 for writers

EducationThis week I was reminded of the 70:20:10 model for learning (see the wiki page). The model arrives from studies of managers that started in the 1960s but has plenty to tell anybody trying to learn any skill.

I believe it bears sharing with all would-be / novice / developing writers and look forward to your comments.

The model

The research is written up in a book called The Career Architect Development Planner and summarised thus:

Lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:

  • 70% from tough jobs
  • 20% from people (mostly the boss)
  • 10% from courses and reading

Don’t got too hung up on the specifics and the exact percentages, and everybody is different – what works for me won’t work the same way for you. I do think there is plenty of insight from this list of bullets.

What the model means for writers

There are several things I think you can take away from this; some are obvious some perhaps less so.

Writing — the focus

You become a better writer by writing, but not just any old writing (so this blog post doesn’t count for much), you have to stretch yourself. Every time you write, write better, try something harder, don’t be afraid to stretch.

Studying — useful but not substitute for the real thing

My sense is (and I am guilty of this) many new (or wannabe) writers like to read, study, by magazines, join groups and do anything except writing itself. Yes there is a place for study, but it is third place.

Coaching and mentoring — often overlooked

[pullquote]I think this is most often overlooked[/pullquote]

I think this is most often overlooked. A good coach, (or possibly any coach who is further along than you are) will be useful. Getting a coach is hard and I think there is a place for getting good reviews and listening to feedback (including from beta readers).

Ideally you need one or more coaches / mentors, I have some ideas about this topic and I will return to it.


What are your thoughts? Do you have a coach? How much time do you spend studying? When did you last push your writing? Doing NaNoWriMo once is a challenge, is it still a challenge the fourth time?

Get in touch!

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