Light and Texture
One way to become good at photography, is to learn how to see light and texture. I shoot black and white film and sometimes digitally to hone in my ability to see light and texture. The reason for which I use black and white is because I find color distracting - it's another element and it's easier to concentrate when you have less elements. Even when I work on color images in Adobe Lightroom, I first convert to black and white, work on the tones and contrast, then convert it back to color. Doing it this way allows me to ensure that the lighting within the photo is good. Color just distracts my eyes and I just see better in black and white.
Black and white is also a distortion of life. It again just boils everything to the bone - light and texture. I'm not telling you to shoot only in black and white, I'm asking you to get out and try new things. Photography concerns itself with lighting and as photographers, we too must concern ourselves with lighting.
Returning to the idea of boiling things down, black and white really has forced me to look harder at composition and textures within a photo. I also come to understand the limits of my digital camera in that I can't capture all the variations in the lighting in the scene. When I view black and work, I find myself forced to look at the essence of the subject.