Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Listen to Podcasts About Writing?

Every week, I listen to one or two writing podcasts. It started out as a way to stay connected to writing when I have to do other boring (aka non-writing) activities like cleaning, dog-walking, or driving. But it’s more like getting a free course on writing from more experienced writers who are interested in sharing what they know and giving back to the writing community. Some of the benefits:

·         tips on the craft of writing and the writing process itself, from general aspects such as how to structure a story to more specific ones such as how to write transitions, build suspense or write romantic scenes

·         strategies for using social media at different stages of your writing career, such as promoting your book, building a website, whether and how to self-publish your book

·         tips for coping with the stresses and ups and downs of the writing and publishing process

·         a feeling of connection to the writing community and other people who are experiencing some of the same challenges

·         a way to clarify your own opinions and thoughts about aspects of the writing process or different genres

Listening sometimes gives me a different take than I get from reading. I rarely write notes when I’m listening to a podcast, but I almost always end up with a bit of inspiration, a new story idea, a possible solution for a problem in my own writing, or even a recommendation for a book or author I’d like to check out. One of the great things about most of the podcasts I listen to is that they seem to apply to writers at any stage of the writing/publishing process.

The downside of listening to podcasts is that sometimes they can be too didactic (it depends what you’re looking for) or have too much advertising and promotion. You also have to like the voice of the people you’re listening to! The ones I like most usually have a more informal approach, with an interview or discussion format.

Some of my favourite writing podcasts:

Writing Excuses – I love the short length of this podcast from Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson and Howard Tayler. It always leaves me wanting more! I really enjoy the discussion format. In some episodes they answer questions, while in others they will brainstorm the process of building a story.

The Creative Penn Podcasts – Author and motivational speaker Joanna Penn’s approach is very welcoming, because she comes from the perspective of not knowing and finding out what she wants to know as she interviews different guests about their views on publishing and promotion.

Authors' Think Tank – Another informal group discussion with special guests that talk about anything from agents and working with publishers to story openings and writer’s block. Hosts are Mikey Brooks, Michael Young, Jennifer J. Bennett, Chas Hathaway, Charles M. Pulsipher, and James Duckett.

This Creative Life – I just discovered this podcast where author Sara Zarr talks with people from different creative professions about their lives and some of the obstacles and highpoints they encounter. It’s on a summer break but there are lots of back episodes!

Other podcasts I listen to regularly include The Narrative Breakdown with editor Cheryl Klein and film-maker James Monohan, Katie Davis' Brain Burps About Books (especially informative if you write picture books), The Wordplay Podcast by K.M. Weiland, and Write the Book, a Burlington VT radio show.
For me, the key elements of a good writing-related podcast are 1) interesting discussion and content, 2) relaxed format, 3) inviting voices and 4) minimal or non-intrusive advertising.
Do you listen to any podcasts? Do you have any favourites?


  1. I love The Narrative Breakdown. I also enjoy podcasts from Johnny B Truant. Although usually not about writing, I sometimes tune into the Joe Rogan Experience if he's talking to an interesting guest, and of course, I love Kevin Smith's Fatman on Batman.

  2. I've never thought to listen to these. Didn't really know they were available...*embarrassed* Thanks for the post!

  3. Narrative Breakdown is one of my favourites. Thanks for rounding these up. One of the things I have done is plan a self styled writing retreat and then I listen to podcasts and watch YouTube vids (plot whisperer in particular).

    1. Deb, that sounds like so much fun! I tend mostly to listen in the car and walking, so I haven't gotten into watching video much.

    2. Deb, that sounds like so much fun! I tend mostly to listen in the car and walking, so I haven't gotten into watching video much.


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