I get bored easily. I always have. I do better if I have a book to occupy me, there are any number of games on my phone, carrying an iPad became mandatory once things called ‘iPad’ became available and I’m no good in the car without something on the radio. From there, podcasts were a natural progression. A history of driving an hour-plus to work each way, each day, together with an ‘early adopter’ approach to technology and the boredom thing mean that I’ve been listening to podcasts for well over 10 years.
It’s easy to become isolated when you live in the bush, so listening to writing podcasts became a no-brainer for me. Attending every writing workshop, or group or activity just isn’t possible when you’ve got a 3 or 4 hour drive to get there and then the same to come home. And lets face it, even if I lived in the city, it’s still not a good look to be attending every last writing event – because rather than talking and listening to stuff about writing, I should be writing.
It was only when I was talking to some friends at one of the rare writing workshops that I do attend that I realised that not everyone listens to podcasts or knows much about what’s available on line.
If you’re an emerging or aspiring writer and you’re not listening to podcasts or keeping an eye on what’s available on line, then I reckon that you’re missing out. There is a huge body of knowledge and experience on the internet – and they’re giving it way for free.
My current favourite is the Writing Excuses podcast. The catch phrase for Writing Excuses is a self-deprecating ‘Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart’. Which is far from accurate – even though the podcast is around fifteen to twenty minutes long, this is a bunch of smart experienced writers. It’s hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells. Mainly these folks are sci fi/fantasy writers but don’t be put off by that, if that’s not your genre. They’re experienced and knowledgeable and the weekly podcast can apply to any genre, and just about any writer. I should know – at the moment I’m working on a memoir and even so, I can’t think of a Writing Excuses podcast that I haven’t taken something away from, that hasn’t made me stop and think and reflect on my own work. (And no – my life is neither sci fi nor fantasy).
According to their website, Writing Excuses didn’t have season long themes until 2015. Last year, they arranged the year of podcasts to ‘flow like a single multi-session master class designed to walk a writer through the process of creating a story’. This was when I began listening to them seriously. I downloaded the lot in one hit, and listened to them all sequentially over a few months. By the time I got through 50-something episodes I was hooked and I binge-listened to the first half of 2016 as well. Even now that I’ve caught up, I tend to let 3, 4 or five episodes build up and binge-listen to them.
This is a podcast about the craft of writing. There is nothing about ‘waiting to inspired’ or ‘Great Art’. The Panel assumes that we know all about 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration, and they take it from there. They assume that their listeners – us – are serious about our writing. Maybe we write for fun, maybe for profit, maybe we’re new to the writing world or maybe we’re a bit more experienced. But in amongst all that taking-your-work-seriously stuff is also a strong thread that is very clear: these folks love writing and they believe that we do too.
This is a well structured podcast that packs a lot into fifteen or twenty minutes. There are occasional guest panelists and they stick to the plan as well, adding their knowledge, experience and expertise to that weeks theme.
A bit of technical stuff: the sound quality is excellent and makes listening easy. There are occasional episodes that are recorded in workshops or other locations making the sound a bit harsher and less high quality, but that’s the exception and far from the rule. Writing Excuses comes out weekly – it arrives on the Australian east coast around mid morning every Monday – I believe that’s around 6pm on the east coast of the USA. You can listen to the podcast direct from the website, or download it. There’s Facebook page at Writing Excuses on Facebook.
This is a podcast that is well worth fifteen or twenty minutes of your time each week. Give it a go.