When you’re working alone at home on fiction it’s easy to feel disconnected from the literary world in general.
Twitter is a great help when you’re seeking inspiration or connections, but of course it’s an great distraction tool too. For every tweet that leads to an exciting blog post to make you think about your writing there’s another 10 on baby hedgehogs smiling at the camera, kittens wearing bunny ears, or annoying politicians.
Whether you agree or disagree with writing courses* and writer’s groups there’s no denying that it can be useful to chat through things with other writers, hear their ideas, learn about what makes them tick and so on. They also make for great networks and help motivate even after they are finished – I am constantly proud and inspired by my fellow Screen Academy Scotland graduates when I hear what they’re up to.
Writing podcasts can be a great tool to energise your writing when you’re not in regular contact with writers, and as they are often to the point and right in your ear theyhave the added benefit of being distraction free. I’ve particularly grown to love podcasts that last at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, which I’ll listen to when out walking and forcing some fresh air into my system.
Here are a few podcasts for writers that I’ve grown to love in the last year or so:
The Narrative Breakdown
‘The craft of creative writing, screenwriting, playwriting, children’s books, and literary fiction as discussed by Cheryl Klein and James Monohan.’
Although it’s irregular (I want more episodes!) The Narrative Breakdown is probably my favourite writing podcast. It’s not just that the hosts cover so many types of writing; it’s their enthusiasm, the guests they have on, the subjects they cover, they interesting ways they look at different structures, genres, and POVs. I also discovered the lovely work of Rainbow Rowell through this podcast, for which it has my thanks.
The Writing University
‘The Writing University podcast offers recordings of writing events associated with the University of Iowa.’
This one is a recent discovery and it’s mainly updated in the summer months, but The Writing University hosts my favourite podcast on writing ever. Listen to the excellent Stephen Lovely – Marathon training for the Fiction Writer for a dollop of inspiration and tips for how to make the most of your writing time, and what to watch out for. Generally the podcasts cover topics like the challenges writers face, story genres and tropes, writing good characters, structure, plots, etc. Sound quality can vary with the podcasts as they are often from visiting speakers at the University, but they are generally motivating.
BAFTA Screenwriting Lectures
‘This special podcast strand from the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series brings together inspiring talks from practitioners at the top of their game.’
I make two recommendations here, to check out the downloadable BAFTA lectures on iTunes for (irregular) interviews with screenwriters and also to look on the BAFTA Guru website. There are loads of interviews with screenwriters to choose from (and from other film disciplines on the guru site) but I’d particularly recommend the incredibly inspiring Charlie Kaufman talk on screenwriting as well as the lecture by the always funny Frank Cottrell Boyce.
The Writing Show
‘Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, songs, games, manuals, ads, reports, reviews, or poetry, we are here to entertain, help, and engage you.’
It may have bidden us farewell in late 2012 (except for one recent show) but the Writing Show with Paula B has such an incredible archive of podcasts for writers that it’s got to be on this list. There are loads of episodes to choose from, covering topics such as genre writing, getting published, transitioning to full time writing and building worlds as well as giving interviews with writers. I like the ‘Slush Pile‘ strand of this too, where Paula reads out a few first pages of books and gives good feedback on them – it’s a nice way of hearing what other people are getting up to, as well as learning common mistakes, and how to hook people in.
Other Writing Podcasts
I tend to subscribe to so many podcasts that my iPhone fills up quickly and I am daunted by the amount of things I have to listen to. The ones above are my current favourite podcasts for writers, which I will always listen to when updated. However, other writing podcasts of note that I like are:
- The Cry Havoc Company Podcasts – not just for writers but for people involved in all aspects of theatre production. These are really interesting if you want to write plays, as they help give good insight into different perspectives as well as examining playwriting.
- The Q & A With Jeff Goldsmith – interviews with quite amazing screenwriters and filmmakers all about writing and films. There are some great guests on here.
- Scriptnotes – okay I just discovered this so have only listened to a couple of episodes but what I know, I like. The ever helpful John August and Craig Mazin talk about lots of different aspects of screenwriting.
- Writing Excuses – if you like shorter podcasts then this is the one for you, as authors Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells chat about writing and techniques.
- Nerdist Writer’s Panel – this is another new one for me but so far, so good. Lots of great writers on here chatting about their work and process to host Ben Blacker.
Do you have a favourite writing podcast?
* I like them when the teacher is good, for the record.