Listening as a Bridge

Ken Burgess

I just discovered something very powerful. No, I didn’t discover a supplement that allows you to run a 1 minute mile, nor did I discover some supplement that allows you to live to be 200 years old. Nothing like that.

I discovered something very powerful for the Writer. Us word people who jab at keyboards when most people are in the bed. Nothing incredibly ground breaking to the extent of helping a Writer get words on the page just by thinking of them, nor have I discovered the ability to simply clap your hands three times and a Bestseller appears out of thin air. No. Nothing like that. But what fun would that be? As writers, we embrace the struggle, right? Yeah!

During one of my writing sessions, I discovered that my listening ability has the capacity to expand and open up other senses like smell, taste, touch and sight. Four senses for the price of one. Can’t beat that.

That day I wasn’t working on anything special. I wasn’t looking for anything. I was simply writing an exchange of dialogue when all of a sudden I smelled the breath of one of my characters. Yes. I did. One of my characters was yelling “Better get out of my face!” and at that moment, as if I was right there next to him, I smelled beer and the lasagna dish he had earlier that day. And right after I smelled it, I wrote “And Charles pulled his head away from the heavy stench of Beer and lasagna.”

In that moment, I used my strength in hearing as a bridge to improve my sense of smell. I wasn’t satisfied so I wrote another piece of dialogue “Make me get out of your face,” and what came to me was the image of tight fists and clenched jaws. You see what I was able to do? From my sense of sound came images. It was amazing.

In other words, this discovery comes in handy in cases when four of the five senses are weak. Some writers are stronger visually and weak on the other senses. Some writers have strong hearing and weak on the others. Some writers have a strong sense of smell and weaker on the other senses. The strongest sense can serve as a bridge to the others.

Overall, working on your listening skills can enhance receptivity to the other sense areas (touch, smell, sight, taste):

Just by imagining my hand run over the top of an oak desk, I can smell the pine cleaner. Even deeper, I can smell the saw dust the day it was made. In the other direction when I imagine smelling the saw dust, I can see the wood shavings covering the slab of wood, I can hear the saw cutting into new wood, I can smell the oak. Working with one sense, aids in the access and unlocking/release of others.

Ken Burgess

Written by

Aspiring Novelist | USC Trojan | Working on my current novel: The Identity Thief

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