Being a writer can be really lonely. In fact, the great Neil Gaiman recently compared writing to death, so that says a lot about the process. When you spend your time in a room by yourself, it can be tough to avoid the feeling that you’re all alone.
Sorry. That got really sad, really fast.
Anyway, if you’re a writer and you’re feeling lonely or maybe even a little dead, try listening to a writing podcast. Nobody writes in a vacuum, so it’s encouraging to hear what great writers are doing, what’s going on in the industry, and how you can improve.
These are three of my personal favorites, and, since I’m a bit of a nerd, they’re mostly oriented for a speculative fiction enthusiast. It is known.
This is probably my favorite podcast to date. Hosted by writer David Barr Kirtley, the Geek’s Guide has amazing guests each and every week. Just to name a few: George R.R. Martin, Philip Pullman, Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, Neal Stephenson, Ursula K. Le Guin, David Cronenberg, and Felecia Day.
Kirtley’s also an excellent host. An accomplished short fiction writer, he knows his stuff when it comes to fantasy, science fiction, and geek culture in general. One of his best moments as a host is episode 145 with Kazuo Ishiguro. At the end of the initial interview, Ishiguro turns the tables and interviews Kirtley on all things speculative fiction. These are two very smart guys going back and forth on where speculative fiction fits into literature and why it’s not always accepted by the mainstream. It’s a very cool moment.
Speculate! was my introduction to writing podcasts, and a good one at that. Hosts Brad Beaulieu and Greg Wilson work very well together on the air and they’re definitely knowledgable on the subject. While they don’t get quite the same number of high-profile guests as Geek’s Guide, their show is still pretty awesome. And, even if you haven’t heard of everyone on the show, it’s always nice to discover someone new.
Every once in a while, they also do roundtable discussions on particular books. These are great for writers because the hosts break down the author’s style, analyze entire passages, and even talk with the authors themselves. If you’re looking for in-depth writing discussion, you’ve found your podcast.
Though I’ve listened to this one the least among the three, I like it a lot already. Hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, each episode is a fun and insightful fifteen minutes. That’s right–where Geeks’ Guide and Speculate! run about an hour, Writing Excuses episodes go for just a quarter of that time.
The official tagline of the podcast explains the runtime: “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” They’re pretty darn smart, though. They cover any topic a writer could think of, from agents to outlining to world building to critiquing. Each episode ends with a writing prompt too, which is fun when you’re looking for ideas, which is, like, always.
Podcasts are really cool. The ones listed above are excellent resources for information on the publishing world, the speculative fiction climate, and just about anything to do with writing. They’re perfect for those days when you need a little inspiration. Plus, they’re free. And you don’t have to be a writer to love free stuff.
P.S. Does anyone know of any other good podcasts for writers? I’m always looking, so if there are any you particularly like, please let me know!