Category Archives: Listening

How important is it to listen

The human experience is so rich that we writers could write stories until the end of time about what makes us human tick or grate. On this Valentine week-end, I am pondering on how important relationships are to humans and how difficult they are. Seemingly perfect relationship are rarely what they seemed. The reality of every day life is: it’s hard to live with someone for a long time without facing some kind of conflict or friction. As writers, it’s important we educate ourselves about psychology to be able to build realistic characters and situations that readers can relate to.

When I trained as a hypnotherapist, I bumped into a fellow student who was an achieved screenplay writer. I wondered what he was doing there. I knew who he was because a few years before I had done his creative writing summer class, so you could imagine my surprise to find him at the hypnotherapy school. Seven years down the line, I understand much better how clever he was. Exploring the depth of human nature is gold for writers and what better way than to be paid to listen to people’s stories.

So if you are a therapist of some kind, it looks like your skills are precious for your writing. Keep up the good work. For other writers, I would highly recommend doing a listening skills course. Listening skills – deep listening – is so valuable for writers. I thought I was a good listener until I did a one year long training course focused only on listening skills. It made me realise how we human beings always interrupt others when they speak to chip in. Most of our conversations are not true conversations, they are parallel monologues. I found through this experience that if you really listen to people and refrain from asking questions, you will alway hear everything you need to know.

Similarly, I believe that if you learn to get into a meditative state and visualise your characters, and listen deeply, you will learn all you need to know about them. They will tell you their story. And when you put two of them together in your mental room, all you need to do is eavesdrop on their conversation. It will make your work so much easier as a writer. Yet, most of us are incapable of doing this because our minds are over active and full of thoughts. Most of us don’t realise how packed solid our mind is with thoughts. There is a voice in there that yaks yaks yaks. And it is only when we become aware of it that we can start to master it.

I liken the mind to a beautiful horse. Mine is pure white. I know very little about horses but I know this: if we let the horse into our lives with no training, it will wreck it. In order to keep our sanity as writers, we need to master the mind. There are many ways to do this but meditation and the practice of quieting our minds are paramount. I use to teach meditation and there are a lot of myths around it. You don’t have to isolate yourself in a room, sit in a lotus position and chant mantras whilst burning incense. Meditation comes from mindfulness and mindfulness can be found in every day tasks. Personally I find cooking, washing the dishes, ironing, hovering and painting (artistically) very good to practice mindfulness. All you need to do is to be totally in the moment and refrain from thinking about other things. You will, inevitably. The work is to bring yourself back to the task. It can take a lot of practice to even begin to be able to do these things mindfully without wanting to run away. That’s normal. We humans love to distract ourselves from what is essential. And when you quiet the mind, you start hearing that little voice that tells you what you really need. Most people are scared to hear that little voice. Yet, if they did, they would never have to ask advice from other people.

To your creativity

Ange de. Lumiere

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