Listen up, Writers!

Even though you’ve probably read articles, blog posts, and even books on the art of writing, I’d like to add one more tip. Every writer needs this skill to set his or her writerly dreams into action. It floods the imagination with fresh inspiration, and opens new worlds for exploration. And what is it? 

The ability to listen. 

For a solid sub-point I should add, asking good questions.

People are very willing to talk about themselves, their lives, their experiences, their grandchildren—you get the point. They’re also excited to talk about their work or studies. Listen to your movies-obsessed friend long enough, and you can get the highlight reel from her film undergrad. You’re bound to hear lots of stories, whether they originate from a classroom of restless freshmen, or from the lore of Hollywood glamour. 

Any good journalist knows this right off the bat. But novelists are a different breed. Less outgoing, more introspective. So to those of you who are waiting for inspiration to strike: get out of your house, away from your desk, and talk to people. The post office lady. The random couple that you see at Starbucks every week. The list goes on and on.

Always remember to listen. 

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Inspiration Journal

In December, my friend gave me a surprise Christmas present: a leather bound journal. I immediately adopted it into my writing schemes, and it became my inspiration journal.

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So what do I write in it? Sometimes I think of sentences that strike my fancy. Or I’ll see something that provokes a response—something that must have a story behind it somewhere. Anything with story potential, however small, gets tucked away into this journal.

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The question is: do I use these random jottings? Not yet, but I know that someday some of them will start connecting into a story. See my original post about inspirations here: “Inspirational Dreams?”

How do you organize your thoughts? What inspires you?