Roger Wolfson is a Television writer and script editor for notable American television series. His extensive work can be enjoyed through shows like Saving Grace, Law and Order and The Closer as well as regularly contributing to The Washington Post.

Whilst managing such projects he still takes time to offer insights into his creative process in what makes a writer a great one. Without overstepping a sense of self grandeur, Wolfson prefers to identify these traits in other writers work that have fuelled his own.

Life and art. The equating of these two phenomena is seen by some as the sacred pairing that makes for the journey to better art. And this is no less true than in writing. However, whilst the inspiration is presented in every corner of life around us, how we navigate through this life and espelcially the habits we make inside this make for fertile grounds for creative writing. Here are 5 areas to consider on how to be a great writer.

Listen- don’t just listen

Or even worse, wait to speak. In all interactions, whether professional or personal, the quietening down of one’s internal monologue will help the focus the present speech of the moment.
Breathe in the words and above all visual what is being said. By looking for the visual in your mental picture you process information much more quickly. A great life tool as it is but one that develops a creative mind for dialogue and character study.

Empathise

Another life skill. Find human compassion in characters’ lives whether through reading fiction, watching news or listening to friends challenges. It’s an extraordinary zen like way to live and can produce a fuller life experience.
An exercise in this would be to write mock defence cases or obituaries for abhorrent characters in history. Not to excuse the inexcusable but to identify the human inside the monster.

Friction makes great fiction

Avoid the path of least resistance. The grit of the friction makes for great fiction.
If one’s story finds itself down a dark and sinister path and it makes for uncomfortable writing, imagine what physical responses this could give to the reader.
Challenging own notions of beliefs will not only provide stimulating reading but leave a writer drained but nourished with wider perceptions. This can only fuel more works.

Carry a voice recorder phone

After mental excericses the relatively easy habits of carrying equipment and remembering to use them is a great follow up from these points.
Luckily phones have voice recorder apps available so dreams, arguments and inspiring moments of reflection can be recorded for revisiting. Find a personal way of filing these on computer for ease of access.

Photograph

Visual impacts the imagination as a sign post to thoughts. Imagine seeing a photo still for an old classic TV show from your youth. Where does it take you?
Take photos of places and remark on imaginary scenes that they could back drop to. What happens there? If it was a story theme what would it be? Can it be subverted for something else?

These questions and habits provide meaningful avenues to consider and can quickly build up to way of thinking to find one’s own voice in writing.