If a person is going to set out on the adventure known as writing, then he/she needs to observe the world. It is particularly important to pay attention to cultural and societal changes.
Paying attention to the news can be overwhelmingly depressing. It will give the impression that everyone hates everyone and that no one can see anyone else’s side. Thankfully, when I mean observe what’s going around you, I mean more than just paying attention to the headlines.
Observing people (not creepily) while out in public, on social media, and being introspective of your own thoughts are important to crafting stories. After all stories are created by people for people. The best way to go about doing this is to understand people the best you can.
Empathy is another factor that’s important for the writer. You cannot simply observe what’s happening around you, it is necessary to put yourself in that other person’s shoes. This doesn’t equate agreeing with everyone or forsaking your integrity. It does require understanding why someone may think differently than you.
This might make it seem like I’m saying authors need to be armchair psychologists, and in a way that’s true. Certainly, judgements and diagnoses shouldn’t be doled out just because you happen to spend more time in front of Microsoft Word than the average person. However, a basic understanding of psychology can and does help the writer.
So, pay attention to the world around you. Take notes if you must. Ponder why certain people behave in a certain way.