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Goal Setting Learning Planning & Structure

Becoming a Rapid Learner, Part 1/6: Introduction and Crafting my Project

This post is a review of Scott H. Young course Rapid Learner. First, I present who Scott is. Then I introduce his course and review the first module. Lastly, I show my completed assignment.

14 minute read

Scott H. Young is an Ultralearner.

In 2012 Scott decided he wanted to be a programmer. Just graduating from economics, he felt like he didn’t find what he was looking for. He asked himself if he should attend MIT, go further in dept and spend additional four years of his life in college. Scott decided that the answer is no. Going back for a second degree was not a worthy investment of his time and money. After discovering MIT releases all class resources on the internet for free, he decided he will learn the required material all by himself. In just one year.

Twelve months later, he succeeded.

Since then, he went on to tackle other challenges, such as learning to draw portraits in thirty days, Quantum mechanics, and even various languages – Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Korean.

When it comes to learning and productivity, Scott knows what he is talking about.

He runs his own blog, where he shares ideas about studying tactics, productivity, feeling better, habits, life philosophy, and more. But the main reason why I’m writing about him is because he recently upgraded and opened a new session of Rapid Learner.

Rapid Learner is a six-week program that teaches you how to master the process for acing tough classes, accelerating your career and learning anything quickly and efficiently.

Scott on Rapid Learner

Scott distilled years of experience and knowledge into this program.

Back when I was in college, his blog helped me a lot. Not only did I significantly cut my studying time, I also taught myself how to code. With this new skill, I managed to score a lucrative job as a database engineer, even though I’m (still) a Physics student. Going from being broke to being not-so-broke, I decided to give back and invest in this course.

Every week for the next six weeks, I will write about my Rapid Learner experience. I will apply everything from the course to my new learning project – writing for the internet. I hope to present a clear picture of what Rapid Learner has to offer.


You will find this post useful if you are one of the following:

  1. You are interested in buying Rapid Learner yourself, but you aren’t sure what you’re getting yourself into.
  2. You already are a Rapid Learner, but want to see some examples of theory in practice.
  3. You want to learn how to write and need a way to structure your endeavor.

I structured this post in three parts:

Part One: Rapid Learner in Total

Whether you’re a student who wants better grades with less studying, a professional who wants to quickly master your field, or just someone who wants a system for learning anything quickly and effectively, Rapid Learner is for you.

Scott

Rapid Learner is split into two parts. The Core and the Advanced part, each made out of three modules. Each module has one Essential Lesson, one Quick Guide video, and a dozen Auxiliary Lessons.

The Essential Lesson is the bread and butter of the module. It presents and explains the main idea while the Quick Guide will give you a step-by-step structure you can follow to apply theory in practice.

The principles described in are broad. They can be used by a student, as well as a professional software engineer, a librarian, or an artist. Auxiliary Lessons are here to help you successfully adapt the ideas to your situation.

The Core Part

  1. Project: This module is all about the importance of crafting and planning a project. It is similar to what I have described in my Three-Phase-Learning cycle method. Scott argues a project needs not only a clear goal, but also deadlines, milestones, and a clear weekly to-do list.
  2. Productivity: How to get things done. Balance out the work-rest equation, overcome procrastination, and improve your focus.
  3. Practice: The best way to learn new things is through active practice. Avoid passive reading and watching since these activities have a bad Value return on time Investment.

The Advanced Part

  1. Insight: Powerful techniques for learning complex subjects you don’t yet understand.
  2. Memory: How memory works, and how we can exploit its quirks to remember things more efficiently and for longer.
  3. Mastery: The point of learning is to retain ideas for a lifetime. This module explores how to keep and improve your knowledge over long periods.

To recap, the algorithm of the course is as follows:

  • Watch the essential lesson
  • Check the quick guide to see how to apply theory to practice
  • Do the assignment homework
  • If you get stuck check out relevant auxiliary resources

Part Two: Lessons from Week One

What Does Week One Try to Achieve

Week one is concerned with teaching you how to create and plan a good project. A good project is a project you can see through the end and learn something useful from it.

First, a thorough explanation is given for why you need to learn by doing actual and well-designed projects. Scott also gets you to start thinking more deeply about the reasons why you are trying to learn. Your whys will serve as a motivation boost for when the going gets tough.

Then follows a walkthrough for how to design your project in six steps, with six more videos to help you with the endevour.

  1. Crafting projects for practical skills
  2. How Scott prepared for the MIT challenge
  3. Adapt your learning project for school
  4. Finding learning material
  5. Make realistic predictions
  6. Soft Deadlines, a productivity tip to keep you on track

The good

My list of items is ordered form what I think is least vital to the most crucial.

  1. Transcripts, video format, and audio format. Each piece of content can be downloaded in MP3, video, or even text format. All of excellent quality. This allows you the freedom to digest the content in your preferred way, or on the go.
  2. Helpful team, immediate response, vibrant and useful comment section. In my experience and observations, Scott and his team are incredibly responsive and are willing to listen to suggestions. The commenting community is small but vibrant. Reading the comments from other rapid learners has immense value since they describe their personal experience applying theory in practice.
  3. The structure, organization, and user experience design is intuitive and logical: The flow of Theory – Practice – Tips sits well for me. I can also see the interface design being simple to understand even for someone not tech-savvy.
  4. Insane replayability. This module is broad. In the sense you get something new from it every time you watch it. Following through with one project, and you will learn one set of skills. Return after a month with a different kind of project, and you will learn a completely different set of skills. I can see myself rewatching this module whenever I will plan another project in the future.

The not-so-good

In this module, nothing is bad – as to “this shouldn’t be here.”. Some things seem “icky” at first. However, this is the result of a wrong mindset and expectations going into the course.

  1. In module one, not all auxiliary exercises are immediately useful. Note, this might not be the case in the later modules. However, I hope that it is – for this is precisely the reason the module is so highly replayable.
  2. It is rather basic. If you have been reading Scott’s blog for years, high chance you already read 90% of the material in this course. Though groundbreaking novel information was never the selling point. The essence of the course is in organizing and presenting information in a way to best help you apply it in your projects.
  3. The course is broad and abstract. You absolutely must follow it with a concrete learning project. As I’ve mentioned before, the real value of the course lies in leading you, step by step, through the process. Watch passively, and most concepts will fly over your head. By applying theory directly to your project, you learn how to materialize the abstract into the concrete. That is where true learning happens.
  4. Not enough practical examples! I believe this is the biggest weakness of Module One. In my experience, after completing the assignment, there was this looming sense of “what if this is subpar?”. There was no presentation of other ultra learning projects similar to mine for me to get some sort of feedback. I understand, though, the document is an organic one. With weekly introspection, you do refine it over time and find better drills and so on. However, people have a varying degree of introspective ability – which I think is the most common deadlock for further learning. Having a vast vault of ultra learning projects and journals to query ideas & tips – directly from the battlefronts, would be of tremendous help.

How to Improve Week One

As you can see, most “flaws” in Module One can happen only because of a faulty mindset and expectations. There are only two things I would add or change: one minor and one major.

  1. I would join the Homework section and all the worksheets for the current module on one page. I find it slightly annoying to see the worksheet and homework under each video. At first, it gave me the confusing sense of “oh, there is more – homework for each lesson.”. Now, I just find it to be unnecessary clutter.
  2. More practical examples or a vault of ultra learning journals for various projects. A year ago, I tried my first structured attempt at ultra learning – teaching myself how to draw better plants (I had my reasons). Having Scotts 30 Day Portrait Drawing Journal by my side was insanely useful – and I can’t stress this enough. Even though we practiced utterly different things, reading his daily train of thought allowed me to improve mine. Ultralearning is not just about structures and habits. It is a way of thinking. Seeing the story unravel in front of your eyes, or watching a master-thinker at work is priceless. Absolutely priceless.

Conclusion

Overall, in module one, Scott delivers what he promised. Like a great piece of literature, you get something different out of it each time you digest it. Work on the course alongside your project to materialize the abstract and get the most value out of it. And lastly, document. Check out Scott’s journal and start logging your train of though daily. We, the community of ultra learners, need a vault, an archive, a library of Alexandria of all previous ultra learning battles. History is a great teacher, lets learn from it.

Part Three: Structuring my project

In the third part, I will present my project – writing for the internet. It is based on six steps described in the first module. I won’t go into many details – that is Scotts job. I will only take the minimum necessary skeleton to demonstrate what you can expect from the course.

Step 1: A Clear Goal

The What

I am learning how to write for the general audience. To write high-grade posts, I need to strike a balance between the next four dimensions of writing:

  1. Essay writing: Structure the post in a logical and easy-to-follow manner
  2. Article writing: Research what you write about to present factual and real information
  3. Copywriting: Not only to craft exciting headlines but also to persuade and inspire the reader to take action
  4. Story writing: Demonstrate concepts with engaging stories and examples as they easily anchor in the mind.

The Why

He who has a why can bear almost any how.

Friedrich Nietzsche

I have always been interested in producing content. Writing was by far my weakest medium of self-expression. And I’m not happy with that. Here are my reasons why I think writing is a central life skill to master.

  1. The primary reason to learn how to write is so that you can formulate coherent and clear ideas about important issues. Only by thinking about such matters can you live a life of competence, productivity, and originality.
  2. Thinking by itself is limited. But when you write, you expand the capacity to consider several ideas at the same time. Thus you make better and more bullet-proof conclusions.
  3. No matter where in life, the person who can formulate and communicate the best argument almost always wins.
  4. I have personal and professional problems, for which no satisfactory solution yet exists. By becoming a better writer, I will expand my ability to conjure solutions to my problems. This way, I can also help people who walk on a similar path as me.
  5. Life is a tug of war between good and bad ideas. By learning to write and edit, I will be able to tell the difference between the two.
  6. The mind is organized verbally. Only by learning how to think, through writing, can you develop a well-organized and efficient mind.
  7. Without writing, we would still be living in trees. When I’m writing, I am harnessing the full might of culture to my life.

By writing, I am conquering the unknown.

The How

To achieve competence in writing, I estimate that I will need to complete the following goals.

First, I will have to invest twenty hours per week for the next three months. That is 240 hours in total.

Next, I will have to examine the writings of famous bloggers & authors. My current favorite writers are James Clear and Jordan B. Peterson. By comparing their writing side by side with mine, I will be able to spot insufficiencies in structure, story craft, grammar, flow, and transitions more easily.

They say you need to read, in-depth, at least three books to become more knowledgeable in particular a domain than most people. Currently, three books that have grabbed my attention are The Writer’s Journey, The Ultimate Sales Letter, and The Copywriters Handbook. For me, in-depth reading means immediately applying the concepts in practice, until they feel natural to use.

There is nothing better than throwing yourself straight in the deep end. In the next three months, I will write 25 blog posts, not limiting myself to stories or essays. I still don’t know precisely in which direction I want to go as a writer. I want to keep experimenting, and move in the direction I feel is most natural.

Every day I will do writing drills to stretch myself and practice specific elements of writing, like headlines, outlines, intro paragraphs, and others.

Step 2: Learning Materials & Approaches

During my project, I will use the following materials:

Books

  • The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers This book describes the underlying monomyth of every story. Regardless of genre, each story follows a clear progression, called the hero’s myth. Each story also contains characters, which embed the archetypes. These are fundamental tools for any story crafter.
  • The Copywriter’s Handbook This book includes a dozen of copywriting techniques.
  • The Ultimate Sales Letter This book explains why do some sales letters work and others don’t.

Skillshare videos

  • Going Viral: Write content People Share
  • Copywriting for Beginners: How to Write Web Copy That Sells
  • How to Become A Freelance Writer and Make Money From Home
  • Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft
  • Creative Writing Essentials: Writing Stand-Out Opening Scenes

Daily writing Drills

  1. Outlines: Each post needs a skeleton. Outlining is not actually that time-consuming. I found out, a rough sketch can be done in five minutes. With the help of “fast prototyping”, I can cycle through ideas very rapidly and only use the ones that stand out. Considering I will write two posts and make seven outlines per week, I will have the privilege to choose only the best ideas.
  2. Headlines: The headline makes or breaks the post. It gives an overall feeling of what the post will be about. Here, the concept of rapid prototyping comes into play again. By writing one page of headlines for one post (roughly 30 headlines), I am almost guaranteed to come up with something interesting.
  3. Intro-Paragraphs: Learning is hard, and no one wants to do it. A great intro grabs and leads the reader into the material, without him realizing it. Before he knows it, he has learned something new.
  4. Story-paragraphs: Each post should have some sort of a narrative and interesting sentences. The best way for me to stretch my ability to write more poetically is to short write stories. My friends and I have recently started to play a board game called Dungeons and Dragons. I have decided to make a journal for my character and update it every second day. These logs will be roughy 500 words long. Story-paragraph drill will, therefore, allow me to work on these logs, as well as apply principles from The Writer’s Journey as I go.

Analyze blogs

  1. James Clear

Finally, get feedback from friends, family, or readers. If possible, observe their reaction while reading.

Step 3: Time Required

Here are my initial estimations for how much time each writing session and drill exercise will take. I will log these hours as the week progresses. At the end of it, I will adapt these numbers to fit the real situation better.

  1. Writing 10 hours per blog post twice a week. 2-3 hour per day
  2. Reading 60 minutes per day
  3. Drills 60 minutes per day

Step 4: Deadlines and Milestones

I’m starting my challenge on the 20th of April 2020. The project will end after three months, on the 20th of July 2020. I have two soft deadlines, one after each month.

By the 20th of May, I will have completed

  • 8 Blog Posts
  • The Writer’s Journey
  • 33 Essay Outlines
  • 33 Pages of Headlines
  • 33 Introduction Paragraphs
  • 33 Story Paragraphs
  • Going Viral: Write content People Share
  • Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft
  • Creative Writing Essentials: Writing Stand-Out Opening Scenes

By the 20th of June, I will have completed

  • 16 Blog Posts
  • The Copywriters Handbook
  • 66 Essay Outlines
  • 66 Pages of Headlines
  • 66 Introduction Paragraphs
  • 66 Story Paragraphs
  • How to Become A Freelance Writer and Make Money From Home
  • Copywriting for Beginners: How to Write Web Copy That Sells

Lastly, By the 20th of July, I will have completed

  • 25 Blog Posts
  • The Ultimate Sales Letter
  • 100 Essay Outlines
  • 100 Pages of Headlines
  • 100 Introduction Paragraphs
  • 100 Story Paragraphs

A potential trap I might fall into is June’s examination period in college. Because of that, I will try harder during May to do some work in advance. There is no point in cramming, though, since the power of the drills lies in the fact that they are done daily.

Step 5: Break Down the Work

Due to the nature of my project, every week is going to look the same. The pace I need to keep up is the following:

  • Write a blog post on Monday and Thursday (done is better than perfect)
  • Make one drill exercise each day (1 outline, 1 page of headlines, one introduction sentence, one story-paragraph)
  • Read 12 pages of a book every day. By keeping this pace five days of the week, I will still be on time with my plans.
  • Invest one hour every week in skillshare videos

Not going into too many details, I expect to write roughly 50 journal logs for my DnD character (25k words) and 25 blog posts with an average length of 3000 words (75k words). Here, I didn’t include the drills since their purpose is only to help me write, and not produce any kind of body of work. Still, 100 000 words (or medium length books) in three months is a fair amount for someone who is still in college and works part-time.

Step 6: Review and Update

Once a week, on Sunday, I will review everything I have written the corresponding week. I will also reread this document, update it and write a weekly journal.

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