Listening, for writers, is as important as reading and observing.
For aspiring writers, it is imperative to make listening a habit. Like reading and observing, listening will aid a budding writer in his or her aspirations.
Listening is a learning tool that pulls in knowledge about new issues with abundant human interest at the core.
But there is listening and there is listening –
*In school, one listens to lectures for academic enrichment. One is invested to listen with as much focus as possible to be eventually conferred a diploma or perhaps a skills certificate.
*With nuclear family members, one listens to them with one’s heart as if life depends on it and often it does.
*With close friends and other people who matter, one listens to them with empathy. Their joy could be your joy, their pain your pain, their heartbreak or triumph yours as well.
The kinds of listening as outlined above involve personal emotion. The sort that brings out feelings and opinions that are private to the individual; the type that can unleash strong reactions, either negative or positive.
Growth in knowledge and maturity are achieved if one takes listening in earnest.
THE TYPE OF LISTENING that aspiring writers should accustom themselves with is dispassionate listening to other people’s conversations.
It should be emphasised that this should not be seen as impertinent snooping.
One should not be intrusive when listening in.
Check some examples of settings where one can listen in without being nosy:
*When in queues, e.g. at the airport check-in counter, supermarket or shop check-out counter; for boarding a taxi, bus, ferry, train, plane; for book signings of your favourite author; coffee shop order counter; to gain entry for events like sports matches, book fairs, graduation ceremonies, film previews, product presentations and so on;
*When someone talks (sometimes rather loudly) on the mobile phone in public settings, such as the examples cited above and below;
*When part of an audience, e.g. sports matches, graduation ceremony, awarding and recognition, lectures, and so on;
*When participating in an event or occasion, e.g. workshop, exhibition, marketing fairs, product presentations, meet-and-greet, conventions, school reunions, and so forth.
Remember: listen in consciously without being snoopy. There is much to learn from the sounds alone (i.e. voice, manner of speaking, accents, nuances in communicating, and so on) that can be used when creating character sketches.