Okay, we talked about practicing.
You remember what that is: doing something over and over till start to go a little crazy.
(Those of you who have had to practice a musical instrument know what I mean.)
Now let's talk about noticing.
Actually, let's back up a minute and go back to practicing.
What happens when you do something a lot?
Like spending time on the computer.
Or taking care of kids.
Or fixing cars.
Or driving the same freeway or road day after day after day after day after day.
Or being married to the same person year after year after year after year.
Or being related to the same person year after year after year.
(You know, this person was your mother yesterday. She was your mother a year ago. She was your mother ten years ago. She has been your mother all your life!
Or eating the same kind of food week after week after week.
Well, if you're like most people, you start NOTICING things.
If you're driving the same route to work, you start noticing the trouble spots, the lanes to avoid, the potholes to avoid, the places where people make left hand turns right in front of you. And you start noticing the drivers. If you're like me, you get really good at guessing what people are going to do. You can tell that the guy ahead of you over on your right is about to suddenly pull in front of you. You can tell that the woman behind you, the one who is tailgating you, is going to try to pass you as soon as possible.
And if you're taking care of kids, you start noticing things about kids in general and the kids you're watching, in particular. You start noticing that when kids are sick or hungry, they are hard to be around. (So are grown-ups, but we don't always admit it.) You start noticing that when kids jump around, sometime it means they have to go to the bathroom. You start noticing which kids have trouble talking about their feelings and which kids get so lost in their feelings they can't control their sadness or anger.
And if you're married to the same person? Well, those of you who are married probably know a lot about that other person, right? You know how they brush their teeth. You know if they put the cap back on the toothpaste - or not. You know if they hang up their clothes or leave them on the floor when it's time for bed. You know if they like to think about big decisions or make them in a snap. You know how they are when they are angry, excited, peaceful, nervous, sad, loving, and happy. You know them, right?
That's how it is with writing, too. Or maybe I should say: that's how it is with language.
The more you swim around in it, the better you know the pool, the water, the concrete or mud or rocks at the bottom.
And the more you know those things, the better you swim.
And you want to swim better, right?
I mean write!