Why Writers Need to be Listeners

In this world there are talkers and there are listeners. A writer is both. Many may not agree with me, but here are my thoughts on this.

A few months back, a friend and I spent the afternoon together. About half-way into our visit she said, “I’m doing all the talking.” And it was true, I suppose. But seriously, I didn’t mind. I was simply enjoying listening to what she had to say. It had been awhile since we’d last talked. I knew what was going on in my life. I wanted to hear about hers.

What my friend didn’t know is that all writers talk and most times we’re the centre of the conversation, and…. monopolize? Oh yeah, we monopolize alright since there’s usually no one else around, we, and our characters, are the centre of our attention.

Writers do a good deal of talking in their heads. We talk to our characters and sometimes we talk to ourselves. We also do our talking on the page. We talk and we talk and we talk, talk, talk, talk. We say the same things over again but in a different way, and then the next day we start all over again—same conversation since we didn’t get it right the day before! So while the words may not come out so others can hear us, you can be sure we writers talk. My friend had nothing to apologize for. Sometimes with all the “talking” I do in the run of a day it’s simply nice to let someone else take over for awhile.

So with all the talking that takes place in a writer’s life I firmly believe that writers also need to be listeners. We need to fine-tune our hearing so that we can allow the story to come through to us from that place where stories reside before the writer breathes life into them. We have to be conscious of the wants and needs of the characters we write about. We need to listen to what they have to say even when they say things that are not to our liking. We need to listen to the hearts of our characters and find out what makes them tick. What are their likes and dislikes? Their biggest fear? We need to be their best friend or, in some cases, their worst enemy, and we do that by listening. An author who is a good listener learns to respect their characters and give them the freedom to tell their story in their own words, and in their own time.

So to my friend who thought she was being selfish and dominating the conversation all I can say is that sometimes there’s a time to talk and sometimes there’s a time to listen. Hopefully, we tap into that balance somewhere along the way. A writer is both talker and listener. We’ve mastered both of these arts and if we haven’t yet mastered them we’re constantly working to achieve it.

I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging until the New Year. My life will be much less complicated then. I’m looking forward to catching up on my blog reading and I’d like to check out some new blogs from the followers I picked up this past while.. Have a wonderful Holiday and I hope to see you in 2015!
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