Saturday, September 17, 2011

Writing—Some Things Get Easier as We Go Along

005-imageSometimes I go on bike rides with my children. We start out in the neighborhood, then head to a nearby greenway.

The only bad thing about biking with my ten year old daughter is that she scares the crap out of me.

I review safety before we start biking, but one thing happens every time. We’ll cross a road in our neighborhood and she’ll look carefully to the right and left, but never behind her. Not until I start doing my alarmed mother bird squawk, that is.

This is, I know, because she’s a child. She’s looking for danger that’s ahead and to her sides. But what about a car coming up from behind her and making a turn?

My 14 year old son, I’ve noticed, does make a quick check behind him. This has only happened for the last few years, though…and I think he’s consciously thinking about it.

For adults, it comes naturally. I’ve watched adult pedestrians in downtown Charlotte turn to look for cars from any direction they might be coming from…without even pausing in conversation.

How many hours does it take before something we once had to think about comes naturally? I’m not sure. But I know the more we practice anything, the better we get.

This has most recently come to my attention as I’ve revised an old book of mine. I’ve noticed bits of wooden prose, stilted dialogue, and distracting paragraphs that went off on tangents.

My edits these days are for totally different things…for the most part I’ve figured out the stuff that used to trip me up so badly five years ago. That’s totally due from frequent writing. We naturally improve. Some of the writing craft that we have to constantly think about at first, becomes second nature.

As a writer, do you notice your improvements? Do they help you stay motivated?