Dear Mudge, How to learn?

Hey ‘Mudge,

Busy times. I suspect we’ve both had our hands full. Me, exhausted from learning a new software platform (Microsoft D365) and you, starting a new career with a whole universe of knowledge to master.

I hope there’s time, here and there, for you to share your experiences. Does such a grand adventure deserve its own venue? (Of course, you’re always welcome here.)

Regarding these latest endeavors, I’ve taken pause to reconsider the process of learning. I say ‘reconsider’ as I’ve (and perhaps we’ve) examined the aspects of changing one’s mind here in these posts. And learning, to me, is the epitome of “changing your mind.”

How do you learn? I mean you, specifically. Have you considered it in abstract form? Learning something new, both mentally and physically, seems straightforward. Take the new material, read it. Read it again. Discuss it. Use it in practice, bit by bit until it sticks. The same for physical skills: condition your body, muscle by muscle, motion by motion, until you no longer have to think to move—you just flow.

Muscle memory.

My pastime endeavor, learning to write well, is more problematic. Not only do I have to learn new skills, I also have to unlearn old ones. Break bad habits and replace them with good ones.

And so, as I’m wont to do, I analyze the process and communicate my findings here.

  • The most permanent lessons learned are those that caused pain. This is one of the reasons why, by the end of our lives, most of our memories are of traumatic incidents. Happy memories? Wiped away by age. Painful memories? Burned into our minds by our innate need to survive.
  • Holistic lessons are useless. “Be the ball.” “Be who you want to become.” “Fake it ’till you make it.” How? How does one specifically accomplish such things? Details. I need finite details to apply, in repetition, to alter my behavior, that is, change my mind.
    Sweeping statements provide no guidance. They only serve to obfuscate the process.
  • The mind’s storage ability must be taken into account: short term vs long term memory. Painful memories becomes permanent due to the fact that we dwell on the situation of the trauma. How did this happen? Can I prevent it in the future?
    Skillful memories become permanent through repetition. We must transfer our short term instruction into long term knowledge through practice.
    But such abilities must be discrete, singularly identifiable such that one can consider them in reflection. And, by reflecting upon them, commit them to permanent memory.
  • So, how can we learn a vast, complex skill like “writing well” or “vet-tech”? We must deconstruct the whole into its learnable components, pieces small enough to be practiced and mastered individually.

It is with such analysis that I am assembling this writer’s workshop. And indeed, how I continue to apply myself to this 10,000 hour, 1 million words endeavor.

I’m anxious to hear of your progress,


14 thoughts on “Dear Mudge, How to learn?

  1. It all depends. I hate reading stuff and then re-reading to learn it. I’d much rather “just do it.”
    When it comes to writing, I like to think that my skills develop as I age. My writing becomes more mature and elegant (hopefully?). Reading other people’s writing definitely helps compare styles.
    I’m always up for suggestions, but I adopt them (or not) based on what works for me at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Just do it.” Sure. Over and over enough to alter your brain’s neural pathways.
      That’s the problem with learning new writing skills, you can’t just “be a better writer.” One needs to select specific treatments and apply them, consciously, over and over. At least that’s the way I see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Upon further meditation, I am now fully open to the comments of PH, even with his scatological references. My challenges would be two-fold: I have to comprehend what he’s trying to say, then figure out a way to implement his suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And therein lies this post. Lately, his broad advice provides little help. Oddly, over the last few years I’ve received excellent critique with specific details that continue to help.
      The bottom of the Writer’s Wrules has a set of those directly extracted from his communications.
      My suggestion is to focus on one or two specific factors you can apply — and know you’ve applied them.
      I’ll spend some time on your latest offering and maybe provide some guidance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “I also have to unlearn old ones. Break bad habits and replace them with good ones.” Yep. Case in point. I’ve finally opened my mind to PH comments, trying to Grok.
    “ the end of our lives, most of our memories are of traumatic incidents.” Nope. Flushed those. I meditate on the positive and what’s coming, not the trail of dung behind me.
    “Muscle memory.” Repetition. Yep. One day I should tell you about my awesome 3-pointer, and why they called me “Larryyyyy Birrrrd” every time I stepped on the court wearing green. See? Most painful memories meditated out. Can redo…or relive…the past. I refuse to die as the cliché disappointed old man.
    Keep on truckin’ Mole.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Incidentally, I did that million word thing between 2012 – 2019 with the final text being Malverde Days. Most of it was shit, but still I noticed that I wrote and talked really fast and the words were there without much hesitation. They even sounded pretty good sometimes, but I did notice that people just sort of looked at me as I rambled on about how the world was going to disappear when all the turtles came home. Thanks. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I figure that 10,000 hours at 100 words an hour… And with my current ~2170 hours and ~300,000 narrative words (during this effort) I’m ahead of schedule.
      I’m rather pleased with my progress, despite the jibes and sneers from the legume gallery.


  5. Hi A.Mole,

    I was looking at Matt Mullenweg, founder of WP, and he is into mental models. So I took a look and was a little disappointed. Most of the authors use those obvious, but powerful, maxims to get us to reexamine how something might work or be improved, etc. In the process our brain changes, evidently for the better. I was hoping for something that I didn’t already know, which is sort of a problem if you fucking read all the time and it sounds like you and Crud Mud do that as well. Anyway, I found your essay on the subject much more interesting then the free reads I got on Amazon books of the mental model guys (most of them were guys alas and sigh). Anyway, keep thinking until they pull the plug. Thanks. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the positive comment, Duke. This writing thing is way harder than anything I’ve ever attempted. Making it much harder is the fact that I’m certain my faculties are faltering. The other night I obsessed over the word “qualify”, that is, to provide a limited contextual boundary around some statement. For an hour I could not come up with that word. I finally had to start searching for synonyms and happened to find it. Fuck, such a simple word and I could – not – remember – it.

      Liked by 1 person

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