I got to go to one of the practices for the Cinderollas.
Let me back up a moment:
As I said in my first post about roller derby, I grew up skating and working in the recreation program at my church. We did skating in the gym, and I was often in charge. One of the first and basic rules of skating was balls and skates don't mix. When I was in middle school, one of my best friends broke his leg because he tripped over a basketball while he was skating. Well, perhaps tripped is too light a word. It's not like it was just there on the floor in front of him and he didn't go around it or something. No, it came rolling across the floor and hit his feet. At any rate, the rule was no skates and balls at the same time (not that we always followed that rule, mind you, but that was the rule, nevertheless).
Needless to say, I was surprised that they were tossing all of these balls out onto the skating floor during the derby practice. They were kicking the balls, throwing them at each other, and, generally, having fun with them. Eventually, when they got ready to actually start practice, they gathered up the balls.
About that time, Dirty Carie, the CEO of the Cinderollas (with whom I'm trying to get an interview), came over and asked me if I had any questions. My initial response was, as is always the case, "No, I don't think so," but I immediately changed my mind and asked about the balls, something like, "What's the deal with the balls?"
Her response was very interesting:
We try to get them not to think about their feet and what they're doing with their feet. Newer skaters tend to focus on their feet and think about how they're skating and not pay attention to what's happening around them. Of course, that doesn't work in a match. So, if we give them something fun to do, they are more likely to think about the game and let their feet just do what they need to do. If they get busy playing with the balls, they forget to think about their feet and just skate. The more we can get them to do that, the better they skate.
That's true for a lot of things, especially physical things for which muscle memory can take over. Often, thinking about it, thinking about what you're doing, can just mess you up. I think we frequently call it "trying too hard."
It works for writing, too. Writers often get too focused on the individual words and sentences. They think they have to only have "useful" words or just the right word or that every sentence has to further the story or be perfect or beautiful in some way. They do word counts on specific words and go back and cap that particular word at some arbitrary number of usages. Or other weird things. It's like thinking too hard about what your feet are doing.
Writers need to just tell the story. Don't think about the words or the perfect sentences or any of that and just tell the story. The better you get at telling the story, the more easily the right words and sentences will fall into place. All on their own, really. It's kind of magical that way. Sure, it takes practice and, sometimes, especially at first, thinking about the words helps, but you can't stay in that place. At some point, you have to play with the balls and forget about your feet. Just have fun in the game and tell the story.