We writers love the opportunity to peruse the internet for writerly things, whether that be to increase our knowledge, find some evidence that we’re not the only one out there doing this crazy thing called writing, or just to procrastinate from doing that all important writing.
So, if you find yourself in need of some encouragement to develop your writing, then I would recommend you check out writing podcasts. One of the benefits of writing podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other tasks such as work around your house or exercise or some similar task.
So guess what, writers? There’s really no excuse to be procrastinating in your writing time, because if you’re organised, you can download plenty of inspirational podcasts to listen to while you’re doing other tasks. That way you should be ready to go as soon as creative time arrives.
I generally listen to quite a wide range of podcasts. The way I usually find new ones is by searching for the names of writers I’ve read recently in the search facility of a podcasting platform and seeing what comes up. This suits me well as I tend to find interview based programs quite interesting. The problem is is that podcasts tend to come and go, so you may find one you like but find that all there is is archives from years ago or that they don’t update very consistently.
I would recommend that you search far and wide and especially look up authors, genres or elements of writing that interest you by typing them into the search facility of a podcast service. However, I find that in terms of writing, if I’m stuck for listening, there are three podcasts that are still updated that I tend to turn to. So, I thought I’d share them.
This list is by no means ordered – I value all the podcasts here for very different reasons.
Writing Excuses is a podcast series that offers concise, generally theory-based weekly episodes about writing. It is hosted by authors Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells and Howard Tayler, with regular guests.
I find this podcast very educational in terms of writing theory. Each episode takes a different area of theory, wherein the hosts discuss it concisely yet thoroughly. They do not shy away from really delving into an area of writing.
Part of their marketing is that they are short; they advertise as being 15 minutes long, but generally it’s more like 20. For this reason, they’re good for giving you a bit of something useful, but not leaving you in a position to lose track of time easily. Of course, what goes hand in hand with that is that the episodes are fast-paced – there’s no warm up introductory chatter or major tangents like you’ll find in many longer form talk podcasts.
What’s useful is to search their site for particular topics you find useful or that you feel you need to brush up on. For the past three years, they’ve been following a sort of rough syllabus, akin to that of a writing course. In 2015, (which is Season 10 of the podcast) this syllabus was all about the process of seeing a project through from start to finish, covering all the different aspects of writing such as idea generation, characterisation, beginnings middles and ends, world building and revision. In 2016, it was all about something they called elemental genres, which involved looking deeply into a variety of genres, by taking one each month and really focussing on techniques to deliver that genre well. This year, they’re focussing on structure, looking at everything from point of view, to diction, to story structure, as well as some discovery writing.
Another thing that’s quite good about this podcast is that they do consistently update it every week. It’s also properly edited, so you’re not wading through dodgy audio clarity or inconsistencies in volume level.
Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcasts
Odyssey SFis actually part of the marketing strategy of a writing course. However, what it does provide is some quite interesting excerpts of lectures ran on the course. These are focused generally on genre fiction, horror, fantasy and sci-fi mainly, but they can be quite generally useful.
While they could do with being longer, generally they’re between 10 and 15 minutes, they are quite useful for giving you an introduction to an area of craft. Some of the explanations and examples given in them are also quite good.
Because each lecture is given by a different author or editor, some of whom are quite famous in their genre, it’s interesting to hear the way different people explain areas of writing. Notably, it’s usually the case that the person will be speaking about a subject they’ve taken a strong personal interest in, so they’ll often explain examples from their own experience.
There’s a rather annoying intro which is basically the institution’s promotional stuff, but you can easily fastforward through that.
First Draft With Sarah Enni
First Draft with Sarah Enni is an interview series with each episode featuring a different author who writes books in the young adult or middle grade (the UK equivalent is Juvenile Fiction) genre.
While the first two podcasts I’ve talked about are mainly useful for brushing up on craft, this one is more a resource to help you cope with the emotional and psychological demands of the creative process. In each episode, Sarah Enni has a very long discussion with an author about their life and writing. They talk about subjects such as how the author became interested in writing, their career, the books they’ve written, their inspiration for writing, some of the challenges they’ve faced and their advice for writers. This is a good podcast to listen to if you’re going through a period of writer’s block, self-doubt, or generally want some assurance that you’re not the only one out there doing this crazy thing called writing – these are very good honest discussions that really dig into the psychology of the creative process and the way different people experience it.
There is generally a new episode every week, but with some periods of inconsistency. This is quite a lengthy podcast with each episode lasting about an hour. I find this a great format, because it means that each episode is highly in-depth. She doesn’t waste time with small talk as other longer form podcasts do, rather she uses the time to really dig into the wonders of writing and of life. The best feature of this podcast by far is the fact that it is so honest, both about the challenges of writing and about the various ways in which different writers do their work.
Listening to this podcast really shows you that the people who write the books readers know and love, are complex human beings just as everyone else is, if not more so. It seems to be a theme, that people who have had a life that has been more challenging than average in some way are the people that turn to writing as a creative outlet.