Over the past couple years I've noticed my improvement seemed random and unreliable. This led me to search for a better way to go about studying. After trying dozens of exercises, techniques, and methods, I think I've stumbled on something that has been of the most value. The scientifically researched road to mastery - Deliberate Practice.
However, I think there's a lot of misconceptions about what deliberate practice really is. I've seen many authors skew, distort, and reinterpret the fundamental meaning of deliberate practice in order to appeal to the general public. I had to dig deeper to the original source to find out what the scientists were really trying to say. Here's the unadulterated famous article by K. Anders Ericsson, which I highly recommend: Deliberate Practice
What I've learned so far:
Deliberate practice is difficult, improvement oriented, and requires complete focus. It's when you work on any type of assignment, either from yourself or a mentor, that will strengthen those weak spots and that are at the very edge of your abilities. They may consist of repetitive and challenging actions that work to strengthen a bigger complicated skill set. During your practice, you tweak your mistakes here and there until you get your desired outcome right. Having good, immediate, and accurate feedback, then adjusting your methods accordingly is what it is in essence. But this is a poor summary compared to the vast amount information on this subject.
Looking back in my couple weeks of experience, I've found learning through deliberate practice is extremely effective. The evidence of improvement are clearly visible, even after just a couple of hours of practicing. However, the work is intense, mindracking, and fatigue inducing. I've found myself needing naps, breaks and longer stretches of sleep after these drawing sessions (may be Directed attention fatigue). In short, it's deliberate hard work.
Also I'm skeptical of the idea '10,000' hours or 10 years of deliberate practice will make you an expert; the data is kind of vague on the true practice time experts have accrued over the years. In my limited experience with deliberate practice, I believe expertise could be achieved much much faster when using an optimal method of practicing.
TL;DR here's a few videos that explain Deliberate Practice well:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzBCA_5 ... wmeCbXc4z8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNotrEe ... wmeCbXc4z8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFVW_bv ... wmeCbXc4z8