Wait that's a lie. I have had some success with direct learning.
I set a goal for improving my creative writing skills. I did a paper recently and the teacher thought it was so good that she read it out loud to the rest of the class. The cool part of it was that I didn't really need to do much editing and I was never stuck for the exact word that I wanted. The paper just seemed to flow and I was amazed with the end result.
Also I have had some great success with C++ programming.