Diversity in Your Writing Starts With Listening

 


 Contributed by Margot Conor

Everything you do in life is informed by the things you did before. That is why in some author's circles they tell you to write what you know. That has some truth in it. Even my sci-fi and fantasy stories weave in things that I learned or believe. I just put a twist on them so they happen in another setting.

Everything you do is also colored by the perspective you gained through those experiences, or from your family, community, or society at large.

There are attitudes planted in our little brains just as if we are a garden for our tribe, they nurture those seeds and cultivate a particular way of seeing the world. Now that view might be rosy or it might be dark. We only have a choice to test the limits of that perspective once we are grown, and then it is our privilege to do so.

Sadly, many do not. They are comfortable with how they’ve been molded, and these ingrained perspectives color your writing.
 
The paradigm we currently operate in is flawed, it is largely based on separation, exclusion, and intolerance. An “us” and “them” mentality. If we want to survive these times, we need to change.

Change requires that we investigate other points of view with an open mind and talk with people who are not like us, or more importantly, that we listen to them.

Listening helps add fresh perspectives to your writing.

I don’t know about you but it makes me feel bad when I am having a conversation with someone and I can tell they are not paying attention to what I say because they are either distracted with something else, or they are just waiting for me to finish, so they can share their opinion on the subject. Or they just interrupt because they feel what I’m saying isn’t valid or important.

When I have come across someone who is actually listening, patiently, looking me in the eye, and really hearing what I have to say, maybe even asking questions. Wow, it’s a powerful experience. Just to be heard. It makes me realize that it is a rare occurrence. To be given the courtesy of someone’s full attention, to be shown that kind of respect.

That is basically what this comes down to, if we show respect even to people we don’t agree with, they can feel that you care enough to try understanding their point of view.

I equate this with visiting a foreign country and trying to speak their language instead of expecting them to speak mine. They might laugh at me, (well they have, I wish I was better at languages) but they also like that I try. It shows them I’m making an effort to communicate.
You might try listening to those who have different cultures and ideas. Consider if there is anything there to inspire you. If their ideas seem radical, then investigate.

And yes, you should absolutely test those waters, use all the tools available to you in this modern age of access, and see if what they tell you is accurate. Then see how that stands up next to what you’ve been taught.  

Often that is how I get ideas for my characters. I talk to people who are raised to think differently than I was. It is important to go wide, take in new things, find the strange.

Enjoy the oddities you come across. Unravel the things that are mysterious to you. Gain a new understanding of something. You might surprise yourself and take a new perspective. Then put all of that into what you write. Or if you are not a writer, let all of that make your life richer.

Be brave, do something new or different.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 


Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing.

Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.

You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/ 

(@MargotConor (Facebook) 


 


1 comment:

Karen Cioffi said...

Margot, thanks for this insightful article. It's very true that our perception of life is created by our past, as you mention, it's ingrained in us. Breaking through that to listen and write with diversification in mind is critical in today's atmosphere. There are now even sensitivity readers to make sure your writing is appropriate for all.

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