In our quest for steno perfection, we spend countless hours practicing. After all, “practice makes permanent.” It’s been oft said that multiple hours of practice creates “muscle memory”; making our writing automatic.
While reading the book, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power Of Sleep And Dreams” By: Matthew Walker, I came across the following interesting passage that explains why the term “muscle memory” is a misnomer:
“The term ‘muscle memory’ is a misnomer. Muscles themselves have no such memory: a muscle that is not connected to a brain cannot perform any skilled actions, nor does a muscle store skilled routines. Muscle memory is, in fact brain memory. Training and strengthening muscles can help you better execute a skilled memory routine. But the routine itself- the memory program- resides firmly and exclusively within the brain.”
“Weight-lifters start with weights they can lift and gradually increase the weights over a period of time. Good fight managers start a new boxer off with easy opponents and gradually pit him against more experienced fighters. We can apply the same general principles in almost any field of endeavor. The principle is merely to start with an ‘opponent’ over which you can succeed, and gradually take on more and more difficult tasks.
Pavlov, on his death-bed, was asked to give one last bit of advice to his students on how to succeed. His answer was, ‘Passion and gradualness.’
Even in those areas where we have already developed a high degree of skill, it sometimes helps to ‘drop back,’ lower our sights a bit, and practice with a feeling of ease. This is especially true when one reaches a ‘sticking point’ in progress, where effort for additional progress is unavailing. Continually straining to go beyond the ‘sticking point’ is likely to develop undesirable ‘feeling habits’ of strain, difficulty, effort. Under such conditions weight-lifters reduce the amount of weight on the bar, and practice ‘easy lifting’ for awhile. A boxer, who shows signs of going stale, is pitted against a number of easier opponents. Albert Tangora, for many years the World Champion Speed Typist, used to practice ‘typing slow’- at half normal speed- whenever he reached a plateau, where further increase in speed seemed impossible.” -From, “Psycho-Cybernetics” By: Maxwell Maltz
According to the book, “Grit,” written by, Angela Duckworth, there are four requirements for deliberate practice. They are as follows:
1) A clearly defined stretch goal.
2) Full concentration and effort.
3) Immediate and informative feedback.
4) Repetition with reflection and refinement.