Golf is like writing. You only need to be told to think about the game differently in order to improve dramatically.
Imagine the backswing differently. Envision yourself throwing a Frisbee as you rotate. Think wet noodle. Swing through the ball. Forget the ball entirely.
No strength training. No demonstration. No specifics on technique or grip. You don’t even need to practice the new approach in order to improve. Just listen, absorb, swing, and presto! You hit the ball farther than you ever have before, and more importantly, you feel good doing it. You find a groove in your swing that never existed before. It’s almost as if one minute you’re playing one game, and the next minute, you’re playing a new, entirely different game.
Writing is like this as well. I find myself reading a short story by John Updike or listening to dialogue written by Stephen King or laughing to the humor of Kurt Vonnegut or David Sedaris, and just like that, I am struck by an unexpected revelation.
Wow. Setting can become character.
Hey. Silence… the absence of a response in dialogue… can be just as meaningful as the use of actual words.
Ah-ha… Using italics to reinforce the right moment of inflection can really change the humor of a sentence.
No practice is required. No lesson or tutorial. No series of explicit directions. Just like golf, I only need to be told to think about the craft in a different way, and instantly, my skills are improved.
One moment setting is setting. The next, the possibility of making setting as pervasive and unique as character has popped into existence.
One moment I am pondering an appropriate response for a character in the midst of an argument, and the next, I realize that no response might be the better choice
One moment I am struggling to bring humor to a section of text, and the next, I find the italics sitting in my author’s toolbox.
This is why I despised cross country running so much. Nothing changes. No immediate gratification. Just running and running and more running.