Have you ever tried to teach someone else to tie their shoelaces?

Tying shoelaces isn’t hard. Until you explain it. And then the whole thing falls apart. I never managed to teach R to tie his shoes. In fact, what happened was pretty much that I lost the ability to tie my own. He finally fumbled his way through figuring it out himself when he was about ten or so, and meanwhile I haven’t tried to tie a shoelace in about a decade.

I had the same experience with teaching him to drive, aka failing to teach him to drive. The more I thought about how to shift smoothly from one gear to the next, the more I couldn’t remember how to do it myself. I finally made my dad give him a lesson and Chris an explanation of what was happening, and he worked the skill out on his own.

I think the same thing is happening to my writing ability. I read a story last night that I wrote a year ago. I remember writing it. It took me about an hour. I didn’t agonize, I didn’t think. I just had an idea and I wrote it. I never revised it or even edited it. It’s a darn good little story (although if you’ve never seen Eureka you won’t get the context.)

All the reading about writing, learning about writing, thinking about writing, that I’ve been doing is just making it harder to write. Sure, I understand filter words and point-of-view now, I see repetitions and cliches — but I used to just be able to tell a damn story and everything I’m learning about writing is getting in the way of *that*.

Writing was an implicit memory skill for me. I need to stop paying attention to how I’m doing it and just get back to doing it.