Community

Listen Up: Podcasts for Writers

It’s fitting that I’m talking about podcasts the day after the eclipse seeing as how one of the very first podcasts that I ever subscribed to, nine years ago, was The 10th Wonder Podcast, dedicated to the hit NBC series, Heroes. I’ve subscribed to dozens of podcasts since so today, I’m here to talk about the podcasts that have helped and inspired me as a writer and I think will help you too. Let’s dive in.

For Novelists

Writing Excuses

“15 minutes long, because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart.”

This weekly podcast is hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells along with season twelve guest hosts, Wesley Chu, Piper J. Drake, and Mary Anne Mohanraj. I started listening to this podcast in 2013 after co-host, Dan Wells, whose YA trilogy Partials, I was familiar with, mentioned it online.

The 15-25 minute episode discussions vary week to week, sometimes with discussions carrying over multiple episodes. Though as the podcast has grown, each season has found a theme so to speak which will really help those looking to zero in on strengthening a certain element in their writing. This season, the theme is structure.

The hosts don’t hold back in detailing their strengths and weaknesses, how they get to The End of a project and how they make it the best that they can moving forward. Speaking of strengths, Mary Robinette Kowall brings a great perspective as not only a novelist but a professional puppeteer and audiobook narrator. If you’ve listened to the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire then you’ve heard Mary Robinette Kowall’s voice.

Anyway, while the hosts mainly write long form sci-fi and fantasy, they also discuss short fiction and they never hesitate to bring on guests to talk about genres, writing formats, and styles outside of their wheelhouse. Now that I think about it, I’ve bought more books and become more familiar with new to me authors because of fascinating and super insightful guests on this podcast than any other writing podcast I listen to – and that’s not even why I tune into the podcast, so that’s saying a lot.

In addition, the core four hosts often break down their own work to help its listeners see how to get what they learn from the podcast on the page in their own work, which is immensely helpful, especially if you buy their books or check out their books from the library to follow along as best as you can. These episodes are rare though so don’t feel like you have to buy anything to listen and learn from this podcast because you most definitely do not.

This rapid fire writing podcast is equally beneficial to both new and longtime writers of all genres, adult and young adult. Best of all, the podcast has a transcript for every episode, the podcast always ends with a writing prompt, and Writing Excuses aims to host an annual writing workshop and retreat on a cruise! I have yet to attend the cruise retreat but hope that I can attend in the future. More information on all of the above can be found at writingexcuses.com.

88 Cups of Tea

Hosted by Yin Chang (whom you may remember from her acting days as Nelly Yuki on Gossip Girl), 88 Cups of Tea is a long form weekly podcast featuring candid discussions with authors, literary agents, and other influential creatives in the industry. The podcast recently celebrated its third year anniversary. Over the course of this period, Yin has interviewed Beth Revis, Victoria “V.E.” Schwab, Kiersten White, Angie Thomas, Marie Lu, Alexandra Bracken, Katie Lowes, Matt de la Peña, Nina LaCour, Zoraida Cordova, Joanna Volpe, Pete Knapp, and so many more.

Every podcast gives us a deeper look into the writing journeys of our favorite writers (mainly YA writers), their creative processes, successes and losses, and what influences them along the way. All of us at Writer’s Block Party listen to and love 88 Cups of Tea… so much so that our very own, Kat Cho even made it on a special episode of the show which you can listen to here.

First Draft with Sarah Enni

If you love 88 Cups of Tea, you’ll love First Draft. I started listening to this weekly podcast, dedicated to long form laid back interviews with YA & MG authors, in 2014 and have loved every minute of it since! The content here is mainly a focus on emotional and creative process as well as backstory of the authors, which I absolutely love. We get to know authors on a more personal level and discover how they came to become the writers that we know and love today which is so inspiring. Every story is so different.

Most recent episodes that stood out to me include conversations with Sandhya Menon (When Dimple Met Rishi), Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn), and Jennifer E. Smith who is not only a YA writer but also is Lauren Graham’s editor. Yes, that Lauren Graham.

PubCrawl Podcast

PubCrawl Podcast was born out of the PubCrawl blog which has been one of my absolute favorite writing blogs for years. Hosted by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong) and literary agent, Kelly Van Sant, this weekly podcast is about writing, reading, and the publishing industry so it’s the best all in one writing podcast out there as far as I know.

Over the past two years, the hosts have gotten much more comfortable with the podcast and this summer, they’re conducting the Summer of Archetypes series which has been a lot of fun to listen to. So if you’re a fan of PubCrawl or want to be in the know on writing, reading, and publishing, definitely check out this podcast.

The Manuscript Academy 

If you’re familiar with #MSWL, then you might want to check out the podcast that goes along with it. If you’re looking for a podcast that specifically talks about breaking into the publishing industry, with agents and editors being the ones doing all of the talking, this is the podcast that you want to listen to.

The podcast posts new episodes 1-2x a month, usually around 30 minutes each. It’s great to not only put a voice and personality behind names of agents and editors you may have researched but also get to know them and their journeys into agenting/editing outside of the standard bios you’ve read online. Definitely a must listen for writers preparing to query.

Writer Writer Pants on Fire

“Where writers talk about things that never happened to people who don’t exist.”

Writer Writer Pants on Fire is a spinoff of the blog of the same name run by YA author, Mindy McGinnis (Given to the Sea). Weekly episodes run for an average of 40 minutes each and have so far included interviews with Justina Ireland, Lydia Kang, Michelle Gagnon, Sophie Perinot, and Jody Casella to name a handful. I love that no matter how familiar with an author I feel, I always learn something new about them, their work, their process, their journey, etc… through this podcast. For instance, I am familiar with Lydia Kang’s YA work but before listening to her episode, I had no idea that she also writes non-fiction. Get ready to learn something new and exciting and be prepared to add some new YA, MG, as well as adult and nonfiction titles to your reading list when you tune into this one.

Writing in Real Life

This podcast is hosted by author, Barry Lyga (Bang) and his wife, Morgan Baden, a communications executive in the publishing industry. This is a very laid back and casual podcast following the writing journeys of Barry and Morgan as well as industry news, the latest pub talk on social media, and life as writers who are also new parents. It’s exciting to follow two people who are in the industry but at very different stages in their writing careers. Add to that, they don’t agree on everything, so to see contrasting views, especially when it comes to pub industry water cooler talk, is really interesting. Definitely listen if you’re looking for a really chill writing podcast.

Notable Mentions:

Sword and Laser

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of sci-fi fantasy. If you want to be in the know and up to date on all things sci-fi fantasy, especially adult, you must subscribe and listen to Sword and Laser, hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. This podcast is always on point when it comes to delivering sci-fi and fantasy news and giving its listeners interviews with all of the great sci-fi and fantasy authors (both new and familiar), the latter of which you’ll find extremely helpful when it comes to writing.  This podcast isn’t geared towards writers but as you become a listener, you’ll quickly discover why it’s best to listen and be in the know if sci-fi or fantasy is your jam.

This Creative Life Podcast

Hosted by Sara Zarr, This Creative Life is no longer active however it’s worth checking out the archive, especially if you’re a YA writer. Stand out episodes include those featuring A.S. King, Matthew Quick, Ally Condie, Aaron Hartzler, Stephanie Kuehn, E. Lockhart, and Malinda Lo.

Harper Audio Presents

While I can’t say that I listen to every episode of this podcast, it is worth mentioning. Harper Audio brings 10 – 25 minute interviews with authors and audiobook narrators of all categories and genres. I only really listen to the interviews of creatives that I’m familiar with due to time constraints and the fact that this podcast is a bit too dry for me but give this podcast a listen and decide for yourself on how often you’ll put this one in your rotation.

***

For Screenwriting (TV & Film)

Children of Tendu

Hosted by TV writers and producers, Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100, Lost) and Jose Molina (Agent Carter, The Vampire Diaries), this podcast is a must listen for anyone aspiring to become a TV writer. I repeat, this is a must listen. I cannot stress enough how beneficial this podcast will be for you when it comes to craft, breaking in, and in general learning about the TV industry. Download every single episode. This podcast hasn’t updated in almost a year but the archive is an absolute necessity if you’re serious about TV writing.

Scriptnotes Podcast

This is a must listen for screenwriters looking to see their credits on the big screen. Hosted by John August (Corpse Bride, Big Fish) and Craig Mazin (The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Identity Thief), the information these guys give is invaluable. I feel like this podcast is a master class on the craft and business of screenwriting, which is why I highly, highly suggest you buy a notebook specifically to take notes on this podcast. Sit down and give this podcast your undivided attention because these guys are dropping gems every few minutes. I also love when they critique listeners’ work. They don’t hold back so be prepared for the hard truth if you decide to submit your work.

I love when they disagree on things, especially if they both have experience on a certain topic of discussion. I love when I disagree with them, especially as a minority. Even though they are very, very experienced, there are certain perspectives/experiences that they’ll never have and they acknowledge that. But sometimes, some things still go right over their heads (one co-host moreso than the other) and it’s quite interesting to hear that and then mash up their experience and knowledge with the off screen minority experience. So every now and then, I’ll take what’s said with a sip of tea but 99% of the time, they are on the money.

The dynamic between these two and the knowledge among these two is so immense and as you get to know them, their personalities, their strengths, you’ll really come to look forward to the release of each new episode all the more.

This podcast…it should be a prerequisite for anyone looking to break in as a screenwriter. Now if you’re ready to invest in the future of your screenwriting career, definitely, definitely take up the opportunity to pay $1.99 a month for the entire backlog of the podcast so that you can listen and take notes from every single past episode. And be sure to make notes of your favorite episodes because you will want to refer back to many episodes again as your career begins to flourish.

The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith 

I started listening to this podcast in 2008 back when it was “Creative Screenwriting Podcast” and even attended two of the live recordings the first time I lived in LA. For this podcast, there’s an advanced screening of a movie and after the film ends, there’s a Q&A with the writers/directors of the movie conducted by Jeff Goldsmith. It’s really eye opening and I’ve learned so, so much about the industry and behind the scenes while listening to this podcast. Jeff knows just the right questions to ask for every single person that he has on his podcast. Jeff knows how to get the goods.

My favorite episodes as of late include Before I Fall, The OA, Get Out, Moana, Arrival, Zootopia, Room, and Inside Out to name just a few. I highly recommend saving the episodes of the movies you haven’t yet seen and after viewing, listen to the episodes. The Q&A always begins spoiler free but then it transitions to spoilers and it’s simply ten times more enjoyable to listen to these episodes already being familiar with the body of work that is being discussed.

Nerdist Writers Panel with Ben Blacker

This podcast claims to be for writers of all mediums but it’s mainly geared towards TV writers. This is a very informal, relaxed conversation between Ben Blacker (Thrilling Adventure Hour, Supernatural) and a panel of guests. Best of all, if you can’t get to ATX, SDCC, and other cons and events, Ben Blacker has got you covered with their writers panels recorded just for the podcast listeners so you don’t have to miss a thing.

I love that this structure is Ben moderating a panel of writers who have all broken into the industry in such vastly different ways and have had such incredibly different experiences in various writers rooms under numerous showrunners. It’s really quite fascinating learning how certain people run their rooms and the different ways there are to collaborate, take notes, and move up in the industry. This podcast is fantastic for the guests that it features, the honesty of its guests, and the ability it gives its listeners to be one degree away from being a fly on the wall in the writers room. If you want to be a TV writer, take notes while listening to this podcast and start compiling a list of writers you want to work for eventually because your notes may come in handy someday.

 

Notable Mention:

Chicks Who Script

Hosted by Lauren Schacher, Maggie F. Levin, and Emily Blake, this podcast focuses on women’s voices in TV & Film. The podcast hasn’t released a new episode since the winter but if you give the podcast a listen, like it, and stick with it, you’ll learn about so, so many female creatives in the industry across all mediums (short film, indies, etc) that weren’t on your radar before and your creative well will be filled as well. So enjoy!

For Research

Stuff You Should Know Podcast

When you find yourself in the world building or research stage, and you’re looking into something that you might consider to be obscure or simply just not talked enough about, this podcast may come in handy. Want to know all about Sea Monsters? There’s an episode for that. Want to know how poison ivy works? There’s an episode for that. From gene editing and triage to cult deprogramming and frostbite, there are entire hour long episodes dedicated to subject matters not often dissected in the mainstream. The guys behind this podcast really take their time gathering and presenting their research and you will come away learning so much, even when you think you know it all. So definitely be sure to put this podcast in your back pocket.

You Must Remember This Podcast

For those of you writing novels set during Old Hollywood, you must listen to this podcast. For those of you in need of some serious inspiration, you must listen to this podcast. This is not a suggestion.

Host, Karina Longworth is a master storyteller and her passion for Old Hollywood shines through with every beat. Even if you think you know all there is to know about Old Hollywood, you don’t. Believe me, you don’t. There’s more. These are the forgotten true stories of Old Hollywood. To say that this podcast will aid you in writing your Old Hollywood inspired work or simply inspire you to write (fiction or non-fiction) period is an understatement.

For Inspiration

The Moth

Speaking of inspiration, The Moth is inspiring in more ways than I can describe without fumbling over all of the reasons why. But if you’re looking to strengthen your story structure, listen to these stories and really pay attention to how these storytellers craft their stories. Better yet, see if there’s a live recording of The Moth in your area that you can attend or participate in.

Remote Controlled with Debra Birnbaum

To get past the same boring sound bites and really dig into in depth interview with the creators, showrunners, and executive producers/writers of today’s hit shows, be sure to listen to Remote Controlled, hosted by Debra Birnbaum of Variety. If you’re looking to get inside the minds behind Black Mirror, This Is Us, Stranger Things, American CrimeWestworld, etc… this is the podcast for you. It’s so captivating and so inspiring and definitely the perfect way to jump start your creative days.

This American Life

If Serial opened the doors of the podcast world to you, you’ve probably already tried out This American Life, also hosted by Ira Glass. But if you haven’t, be sure to give this podcast a listen and discover the diverse stories of people of all backgrounds and walks of life from all over the nation.

What writing related podcasts or inspiring podcasts do you listen to and love?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s