Are You Listening?

Jan 13, 2009

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a guest blogger at, a localized meeting place for Christian writers. This group has two chapters, one in Texas and the other right here in Colorado. Our founder, Sharen Watson, created this blog to connect our two different groups, AND provide other aspiring writers with connection, resources and information.

Okay, back to my guest blogging…In case you’re interested, I’ve cut and pasted the short article below. I’m curious to know your thoughts. Really. I’m listening…

“Writers write because they can’t help themselves.

Something is waiting for an unveiling. A story. A character. A truth. Whatever it is, it’s burning a hole in your chest, and the words must be set free or your writer self will implode (which can be, shall I say, MESSY). So you write. And write. And write some more. Some days the emotions and ideas fill pages without effort. Other days they take a little coaxing. Either way, in the end, a purged writer feels elated, a little exposed and profoundly relieved the burning message or character or story has found, at last, a voice.

Writing (or speaking, for that matter) without learning to listen, however, is dangerous. If we make our writing only about self-expression, we might discover ourselves satisfied and our audience wanting. Much as our two ears and one mouth remind us to speak less and listen more, I believe writing is two parts listening and one part communicating.

First, are you really listening to people? Are you tuning into conversations, observing social interactions, listening long and hard to the people with whom you interact? Do you make time for market analysis, publishing reports, and magazine reads? OR, do you find yourself so anxious to divulge the burning words in your heart that waiting for a turn to speak while doing your homework seems painful?

Second, are you listening to God? I don’t mean to be spiritually cliche. The truth is, He speaks. Yes and Amen. Through people, circumstances, His Spirit and His Word. Are you listening? How long has it been since you last pulled up a chair and took good notes? Does God find it hard to grab your attention?

Though the time will come when the sitting and absorbing will be replaced by writing for a time, don’t make the mistake of skipping the one to get to the other.

“Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God…Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it. Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer*

P.S. Did you hear that?

*A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Harper Collins, 2005, pg. 12


  1. alece

    i so agree. writing is therapy. but writing that’s just self-expression should be reserved for my drafts folder, or my journal (if i used one). i’m mindful of the mere fact that i have an audience every time i hit “publish”.

    and it’s helped me be a better writer.

  2. Jerolyn

    Type your comment here…

  3. Michele

    Jerolyn, you’re listening! 🙂 Love it!

    You’re so right, Alece. Now, if I can just figure out how to make a drafts folder for those moments when I’m speaking too much…


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