The longer I write, the more I realize my best work comes when I use my voice just as I would if I were sitting across from the reader in a relaxed setting. I’m actually imagining you and I chatting together right now, as I pretend we are enthralled in a deep, funny, poignant, or otherwise stimulating conversation.
As an author, seeing my readers in my mind helps me brush away the distractions that hinder me from offering my purest thoughts and most creative ideas — the ones with potential to help, encourage, and inspire people. These are my motives for writing after all.
By personality, I’m a think-out-loud kind of gal, so I’ve discovered a few different ways of exploring thoughts on a particular subject.
- Schedule time with a friend or family member to discuss the topic in depth.
- Interview an expert on the point.
- Record my thoughts into a device, as if I’m talking with someone — then listen back.
What I’ve learned is that conversations across the table translate into great conversations on the page. No matter the method I use, it’s the epiphanies, the insights, and the knowledge born from conversations with real people that provide transformational information I can share with readers of my books. Some of my best received work is when I write in such a way that the reader almost feels as if they are eavesdropping.
But a true conversation, especially a stimulating one, is a two person event. Listening is as important as speaking. Having a conversation on the page requires paying close attention to the real people in your life and who cross your path. How can we make sure we’re writing on the topics people want to hear? How can we ensure our fictional stories resonate with elements of truth?
By listening with intent.
- Pay attention to the dialogue between other customers in restaurants.
- When interviewing, do not dominate or speak over the person you are interviewing.
- Practice strategic listening when watching TV shows or streaming your favorite program. Not so you can steal their lines, but so your muse can be inspired with new, creative ideas.
In reality, conversations take place all around us in our every day comings and goings. When we become intentionally present and aware, what we hear in our every day lives become relevant conversations on the page, making our messages important to a reading world. After all, it’s living we write about.
What brings out your voice? Does it happen in the presence of other people? When you are alone and listening? Does your best thinking happen out loud or in silence?
3 Replies to “Conversations on the Page”
A great post, Anita.
When I write, I try to picture the scene and then paint it in words. If you’re painting, you need to be conscious of the colours and their shades, the shape of what you’re painting and how it blends with the bigger picture. I like to imagine myself as a painter with words, so the scene has to be in my mind for me to paint it.
Great point, Dave. I do some of that myself, and you are correct, it really helps our writing come alive.
Excellent advice, Anita! I, too, write as if I’m in dialogue with another person. I find it cuts through unnecessary wording and gets right to the heart of the matter/story. It’s the best way I know to craft writing that touches the hearts of others.
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