I'm a professional listener - it goes with my job, and recently I took part in a training morning on active listening. It's never a hardship to hear what others have to say, especially when they want to share something important about their life. We gain so much information by listening, and there are various ways of obtaining information: face-to-face discussion, radio, television, social media. Stories shared are important for authors, who can bring those stories to life on the printed page, or electronically. We are born learning, and never stop throughout life. And one of the primary ways we learn is through listening, whether that be from teachers or lecturers, guest speakers, or close contact. We hear, make notes, and think about how to use the information. I often have the radio going in the background at home and in the car.
It's great when I hear something that gives me a light bulb moment, when I think "Aha. I should write that idea down for later." The benefit of hearkening to what is being said is that an author can gain a wealth of ideas for their writing, especially if it happens to in their particular genre area. I spend a lot of time with children, and as a middle-grade fiction author, I love to hear their conversations, and spend time talking with them. I often get ideas of how to set a classroom scene, for example, or how to set realistic dialogue for the age group, and it helps with creating characters. I can write fictional conversations or escapades based on everyday life. Some children are even coming to me now with ideas for my novels, and I am taking them on board. That way, I hope I'm reaching the target audience with what they like to read, and I can stay fresh with current trends. Listening actively is the best tool we can have, I believe, and I derive great pleasure when a child tells me that they loved my book.