Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How Listening Makes Us Better Writers

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Perfecting listening skills teaches the writer how to effectively communicate. A concentrated effort to perfect listening demonstrates a professional writer who is serious about their craft. 

The writing professional hears what is said, how it’s said, and expands their vocabulary. The art of listening defines culture, shows education, mirrors intellect, and promotes the value and purpose of silence.

Perspectives are another area where listening skills are enhanced. By observing others who have unique and varied viewpoints, our understanding of the world around us widens. We pay attention. We process. We analyze, and we transfer our findings to our written material, whether fiction or nonfiction, often with a perspective different from our own. 

Listening is learning and learning shapes us into better writers.

Empathy is a writer’s friend and listening lays the foundation to understand and write credible emotions. The writer can more easily slip into the persona of a character or a nonfiction piece with confidence and assurance that the reader grasps the content. When a reader concentrates on the narrative and is at one with the manuscript, the writer has done their job.

Dialogue benefits from listening to distinct people express themselves. Include dialect and how culture is reflected in word choice, expressions, and viewpoint to build the character and genre. Listening that includes observing body language deepens the writer’s craft and heightens the reader’s experience.

A vital aspect of research is the power of listening to those providing information. Interviews that show enthusiasm, likes, dislikes, falsehoods, and inside information establish details. If possible, record what is said and note how it’s presented.

Our writing voice develops when we write. Our style, knowledge of the subject, and personalization increases with every word. By applying listening skills to our literary techniques, we strengthen our unique voices.

Below are three ways to increase your writerly listening skills:
  • 1. Listen with your whole body and mind. Shut out the rest of the world and concentrate on the audible voice.
  • 2. Listen with empathy. Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes. What differences will this audible contribution make in your writing?
  • 3. Listen with purpose. A writer’s goal is to put themselves aside and speak for a character or a nonfiction perspective.

I encourage you to pay attention and listen. The craft of writing improves by understanding the way communication is expressed. Grow your skills and make it a lifelong practice. 

How are you using listening skills to grow your writing?


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. 

She is the former director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Retreat, and Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson. Connect here:


  1. Thanks for your valuable insight. Much appreciated.

  2. One of my favorite examples from my years as a social worker/trainer for foster and adoptive parents: A little girl told her mom to "listen with your eyes."

    1. Love that! She's a wise little girl whose mother was perhaps not looking at her much, busy mom that she was. We all could learn from her, no?

  3. Thank you for this piece. As James says, “be quick to listen slow to speak….”