Want to be a better writer? Then you should probably listen more.
It’s a cliché, but it’s eternally correct – we have two ears and a mouth for a reason. We take it for granted, but listening is more powerful than we might think. It would be a lot easier to understand this if we think about what happened when Plato listened to Socrates. The world would be devoid of a solid philosophical foundation had Plato been unwilling to actively listen to Socrates’ oration.
Why listening is so important for writing?
When you listen closely to people, you gain a power to get into the deeper realms their beliefs and wisdom that you can learn a great deal from. That’s the essence of being able to hear what people say. The world would have been much different; probably much worse than what is now if no one had listened to the great philosophers, the intellectuals and the wise. Great minds wrote what they heard, and the things they wrote have, since history, guided the cultural evolution of human species.
Listening is not just about vocal chords and ears only, true listening means paying attention to another person, to try to understand him/her in the very best way we can. When we listen, we save our energy from everything else to let others share what they feel, and this is what a writer ought to consider the most. The power to connect to others’ feelings, their fears, joy, insecurities, hopes and preferences is in fact a writer’s asset. Only when you understand something, you can write. Listening is the shortest way to understanding.
Pay attention to the different aspects of listening
Everything’s got its own voice; we just need to learn to sense it. The wind, the clouds, the noise from a factory some blocks away, the city’s chaos, the crowd’s clash- everything is saying something. To someone who wants to create an art as subtle as writing, these sounds of nature are of special importance. Listening closely to these voices helps you develop a habit of considering the entangled details of our daily lives, it means you appreciate and acknowledge the place you are in. These incessant voices have the capacity to incite the rather unreached nooks of a writer’s mind where all the delicious poems and beautiful stories take refuge.
Not just for gaining basic information, but to find out the real meaning of human conversations, writers need to pay attention to what someone says. How someone builds up his sentences, what words he uses, how his emotions reflect in his vocation? Everyone is idiosyncratic in nature, and the words that come out of peoples’ mouth are the genuine proof of that feature. As a word-wizard, a writer has to be able to tap into the deeper meaning of that peculiarity in order to create a great piece of writing.
Everybody wants their story heard, but no one wants to be misunderstood. If you’re a good listener, you will reduce the chances of misunderstanding and hence misinterpreting incidents and events. You’ll, in your reflection, be more precise and deliver a less biased opinion about something that you’ve listened with great attention. To tell a tale, you simply need to listen to the tale first.
Clear listening gives the fine details to make a text engaging
When your friend tells you his daily life story, is he just babbling some mundane thing, or is he trying to communicate his experience of living that? What was he saying? How was he saying it? Was he calm or was he anxious? Did he sound hesitant? Was he straightforward? Did he point out any details? What emotional inferences can you deduct from his dialogues? Listening closely to him will empower you with a passionate empathy that helps you connect with him in the truest sense. There is no better way than listening to people when it comes to building better relationship.
For any story to be great, details are cardinal. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a product description or a literary fiction or some travel blog – as long as you work on the small many things that make your explanation unique, you will attract your readers’ psyche. For such a storyteller who dwells in the realms of random details, there’s no other free source than listening. It is amazing how you can get a colossal amount of information from what you listen to, especially when you listen to people whose stories are different than yours. Hearing from someone who has been through a different set of experiences than yourself, you build a sense of humility as you realize the diversity of life. Almost every time, all that a writer requires to weave an intriguing story is nothing more than his willingness to listen. Developing a habit of listening makes you more open to new ideas. The more new ideas you collect, the more beautifully you can write.
Listening will influence your writing
As a writer, you’ll benefit from these nuanced perspectives that weave a strange fabric in human lives. You’ll get better stories and most importantly genuine voices for your character. Eventually, listening leads to creating an authentic art. It can be a simple song, a poem or an essay; it can be a novel or a play – what you have listened to will influence what you write and how you make your voice heard so that those who read you will gain something, both in value and in experience.