A writing acquaintance of mine who I meet up with at the Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick in August each year is a wonderful lady. A writer, journalist, and all round good egg, she has written over 50 books and is an old hand at short stories with over 300 published.
One of her great attributes as both a person and a writer is that she listens and takes the time to communicate with as many people as she can. Over lunch or tea, she is frequently seen milling around finding new people to sit next to or talk to because she is interested in all things people and writing related. Many times I have heard her impart sound useful advice to other writers, whether newbies or experienced hands, myself included.
These are valuable lessons that us writers can all learn from.
When out and about, talk to people, find out what they are doing and why. It may just be that they say something that can help you with a piece of writing. Or, you may be able to surreptitiously listen in to a conversation. On the train or bus for example. These are great places to pick up ideas and watch people interact. Other good places are supermarkets, especially the fruit and veg section and the queues for the checkout.
I have a thing for people watching and one of the great places to do this is in a coffee shop or somewhere where you can sit and watch the world go by. So much can be learnt about people and those around them by watching them carefully and observing their mannerisms and idiosyncrasies.
All of these things should be second nature to a writer and form part of their valuable arsenal in the search for a story or the people and places to put them in to.
Never miss an opportunity to observe and record what people are doing because one day, that little thing she did with her shoes or the way that man fastened his coat will add depth to your writing and bring it all to life.
This and other great tips for writers can be found in my latest book, The Handbook of TOP TIPS To Manage Your Writing, out now.