This story always made everyone laugh. It later sparked the idea for a short story of mine, which eventually turned into a collection of short stories based on the small details like this that I remember from my childhood. My dad had (and still has) tons of stories, but it was his ability to hold my attention while telling them, his skill as breathing life into it that is the reason I still remember them today.
So, practice being a good storyteller in your writing and don’t forget the pauses and nuances and details that capture your audience. Don’t know if it works? Read the story out loud to an audience and see if you captivate them. And this is a perfect lead-in to our next word.
English novelist Nick Hornby said, “I think a lot of unpublished writers feel the same way. They’re not getting anywhere, and nobody’s listening to them.” Publication aside, most people aren’t listening because you haven’t captured their attention or you aren’t saying anything worth listening to. We’re writers. We love to talk. We love to tell a good tale. But are we willing to listen to others when they want to speak? This includes them wanting to give us feedback or constructive criticism. You should. A good writer knows how and when to listen. And as a school teacher of mine once said, listening is more than just pretending to pay attention. Listening is absorbing what you’ve heard.
An American writer and aviation pioneer named Anne Morrow Lindbergh once said, “If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” I added this word to the list for several reasons. First, we’ve all heard the saying, “Surrender to your muse!” Often, I sit down to write the story that I think is in my head; I’ve plotted out each scene and maybe I even know how it’s going to end. But as soon as my fingertips touch the keyboard, the characters come out and take over and change everything I set out to do. So, I let them. I surrender to the story and let the characters go where they want. I go with them. My last book started with a single sentence and a quote I liked; I had no idea where to go from there. But I wrote that book straight through from beginning to end in just three months and self-published it a year later, all because I just sat down and let the characters tell the story. Surrendering also means admitting your mistakes. Know when you’re wrong and don’t be afraid of change.