In a previous post, I talked about the joys of learning through listening to audio books and podcasts. And how it’s a match made in heaven when you combine them with conventional reading.
Of course, the joy is ultimately in the learning, no matter the medium of input. For it’s in the learning that one’s more likely to be galvanised into action. To jot down thoughts and reflections on life and living.
At least that’s how podcasts as a unique medium of input has been for me. It’s inspired me these past three years to write and blog earnestly in ways I couldn’t have imagined before.
So today I am going to kick off a new mini-series. I’m going to share with you about podcasts, and their role helping writers like me.
I’ll be focusing on those that have “fed” and motivated me mentally and spiritually since 2019. And how they have helped fuel much of my writing to date. Perhaps some of these may even pique your curiosity just enough for you to go check them out.
[Disclaimer: As much as I wish to say I get a “cut” from advertising them here — can’t hurt to earn some commission right? — the truth is these podcasts neither know I exist nor are likely to get much publicity mileage from this little blog post either!]
The first category of podcasts I often check out has of course to do with reading and writing.
The first one I ever listened to was voiced by none other than my first writing coach Ms Marion Roach Smith. Yes I do have another coach but I’ll leave that for another day’s post.
I’ve written often in my blog about her and how her online memoir writing course (I signed up for it back at the end of 2018) has arguably been the single most important motivator for my now-regular writing life.
But equally precious has been her interesting half-hour episodic podcast called Qwerty. Each time, she invites best-selling writers (like Jeff Goins and Carol Edgarian), and/or prize-winning authors (like Ellen Bass and Anna Quindlen). Each would talk about everything from writing styles and genres, to the whole creative process of what it takes to write and publish.
Many of Marion’s guests have inspired me to press on with this often thankless task; to pen my thoughts and upload it to the ether as it were. Without once having confidence it’ll be read or appreciated, I nevertheless press on, not resting on my laurels.
And that is thanks to nearly every guest on her podcast. Guests who exhort listeners and struggling writers like yours truly to stick to this writing life no matter what!
Anne started a bookish blog in 2011 called Modern Mrs Darcy. There, she features book recommendations, lots of advice on reading, as well as oddball lists (“12 Horror Novels for Wimps“) or her perennial “What I’ve Been Reading…” series.
From there, she went on to a pretty impressive playlist of episodes with her now-signature podcast series “What Should I Read Next?”
With more than 300 episodes now and counting, it’s hard to find another podcast like it. Few talk about all things bookish the way Anne does. And with often both funny and serious guests to boot. Not to mention interesting and at times eye-catching titles like “Books so inspiring you might be afraid to read them” (Ep 154) and “Dickens ruined my reading life.” (Ep 294).
Be prepared though to give up close to an hour of your time for each.
But of course, the beauty of podcasts is you can take them anywhere, listen, pause and return whenever you like, and re-listen or repeat any part of it as you so wish.
Since all writers are first and foremost readers, the quest for stuff to read is perpetual (safe for the occasional “reader’s block“). So what could be better than having someone tip you off to your next best read right?
So how have these help my writing?
With writing podcasts like Qwerty, I have learned to embrace my inner writing voice. I’ve also learned to forge ahead to hone and make it my own.
Now the wise and ancient King Solomon from the Bible’s Old Testament days once opined that there’s really nothing new under the sun. However, what is forever new is each writer’s individual voice, tone and take on any issue or topic of the day.
This was something I came to embrace only as I listened more and more to Marion’s various guests share each episode of their own writing journeys and why they keep at it no matter what.
Which is really how I ended up completing a draft of my book-length memoir and am awaiting a publisher’s preliminary feedback now! It may not go anywhere eventually, but no one can say my six long months of writing 750 words a day for the memoir didn’t mean anything other than sheer grit and perseverance!
As for reading podcasts like “What Should I Read Next?”, the many and diverse recommendations are a reminder to me. That as a writer, I have to read widely in order to weigh in on contemporary and even historical issues with informed know-how and credibility.
And who knows, the next book I read may trigger me to write another book!
Join me next time when I talk about other types of podcasts that have inspired me as a writer.