My oldest son loves to swim. It wasn't always that way. It took years of swim lessons to get him to just put his face in that water. But once he got the hang of it, he spent his summer days swimming with friends out in the middle of the lake. I'd call him in to apply more sunscreen, and then he'd high kick it back out into the water.
This past fall he joined the swim team. And I realized that, to no fault of his own, he hadn't mastered any of the technical aspects of any of the strokes. He hadn't been taught, even through years of swim lessons. I guess his teachers had been focused on just wanting him to float. On wanting him to be able to survive in the water.
This is where I think a lot of people come into writing. Loving it, knowing how to float, to move through the water, but not knowing enough to win a race.
My son struggled through swim team, and was one of a handful of kids who got an award for Most Improved. I was proud that he stuck it out.
We started swim lessons again, and he did well, but didn't want to ever do swim team again. Until he found that one coach. That coach who drilled him in the water like a sergeant, and didn't let him take an incorrect single stroke. Who watched over ever single scissor kick. That coach who demanded excellence. Who barked out her orders. My son stepped out of the water after one lesson with her, and proclaimed, "I'll do swim team again next fall."
I think we each have to be that swim coach for ourselves. We can rely on crit partners to a point, but we have to have the confidence in our ability to strive for technical prowess. And to seek knowledge until we get there. To always reach for the next perfect stroke of the pen.To yell at ourselves until our writing is streamlined and focused.
We're not just in this to play in the water, after all.
This week, I'm writing. How about you?
Today, @laurapauling started a great new TwitterGame, with the hastag #badquerytips. Come share your serious (and funny) tips. And, on Laura's blog, she gives us some twitter pitfalls to avoid!