Over the past few days, I've been trying to remember how to fence, ahead of going back to university. Just doing the little things, like trying to remember how those dents got into the guard of my sabre (the answer: my friend John's face. I've never really got the hang of moving out of the way) The thing is, I invariably take the summer off, because the local clubs happen to clash with nights when I'm playing cricket in the summer (or not playing cricket because it's all been rained off at the last minute) so every September I have to get the feel of the thing back. The actual techniques are the easy part, but it's the small things (distance, timing, remembering not to call the opponent names) that seem to go. Unfortunately they're the important things.
It's probably similar with writing. The obvious things seem to come easily, but the important things, the feel, the control of pacing and the rest of it, can slip away very quickly if you aren't careful. With the novel I'm doing rewrites on at the moment, the hardest thing is getting the timing right on the moments of comedy that litter the thing without sacrificing anything that contributes to the story. Even when you're trying to make people laugh, that comes first.