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Podcasts For Writers: Guest Post From Julie Duffy

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I'd like to welcome Julie Duffy, my very first Guest Blogger. Julie is a fierce advocate of everyone's right to write. She hosts StoryADay.org, a creative writing challenge held in May every year, and has written magazine articles, ebooks and workshops for writers.

Until May she'll be posting warm-up writing prompts every Wednesday at StoryADay.org.

This month, Julie will be talking about podcasts for writers. I'm especially interested in this topic since I've been listening to a LOT more spoken word these days -- while I'm illustrating, while I'm outside taking walks, while I'm doing household chores.

Podcasts For Writers


Guest post by Julie Duffy

Writing can be a bit of a solitary act and if you're not living with other writers, it can feel as if you're the only person in the world who 'gets it'. Social media is great for helping with this, but we can't be at our computers 24 hours a day. Happily, for those times when we must tear ourselves away from the soothing glow of the screen, there are, of course, podcasts. Specifically: podcasts for writers. So that you don't have to wade through all the podcasts in the world, I've compiled a list of the podcasts I find most inspiring and/or educational. Don't forget to share your favourites, or any I might have missed, in the comments. (I have mostly listed podcasts that are still being updated regularly but I did break my own rule once.)

Inspiration - Authors Talking

For inspiration, I love to listen to podcasts of authors being interviewed or doing readings at different venues. Often the authors take questions from the audience and usually end up spilling 'secrets' about how they write, how their characters developed, how they find continuing inspiration. All this is good. But my dirty little secret is that, while I listen, I imagine what it would be like to be up there answering questions from adoring fans who can't wait to read my next book. On days when I can't seem to concentrate on writing, I pop on a podcast and remind myself that the screaming fans can't come until I've actually done the work. My favourite podcasts of authors on the booktour circuit are:

The Author Events Series from the Philadelphia Free Library

This podcast features published authors on tour to promote their latest release. Sometimes the podcast features archived events, but usually they are recent. Each author usually reads a little from their work then takes questions from the audience. The library has a good system, where they take microphones into the audience so you can hear the questions as well as the answers. The audio quality is good and the questions are asked by everyday folks like you and me. I love this podcast. http://libwww.freelibrary.org/authorevents/podcast.cfm

Authors On Tour Live from the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver

This podcasts hosts many of the same authors as the Philadelphia podcast, but the authors often read different passages and answer different questions. Also, it hosts more 'smaller' authors who have a local connection. It's nice to get a non-East-coast, non-establishment perspective. Also, AOT sometimes takes its recorder on the road and reports from places like Book Expo America. http://authorsontourlive.com/podcast-archive/

BookLust with Nancy Pearl

A monthly podcast from the University Bookstore in Seattle. For the past four years Nancy Pearl has talked to big name authors on tour. This interview-style works well, perhaps because it's in a bookstore and the authors are comfortable; perhaps because Nancy Pearl is an intelligent interviewer. The audio quality is great and the half-hour length is long enough to go in-depth with the authors but not so long that it drags. This is available as audio-only or video too. http://www.seattlechannel.org/BookLust/

You might also like:

B&N Meet The Writers

This is a shorter -- and in my opinion inferior -- version of the two podcasts above. It has slick production values and an impressive cast of writers in its archive...but it also features anyone who might shift books, like The Kardashian Sisters and JWOWW from the Jersey Shore...For the past year this has been offered as a video podcast, but you can find lots of good stuff in the audio-only archive too. http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_chl=eeef1c48b137ca6f7002930b78484d1eab3a0a7d&rf=sitemap

iTunes Meet The Author

Another podcast of big-name authors doign the book-launch circuit, this time from the Apple store in NYC. The format varies from event to event as they sometimes feature guest moderators who interview the authors. Doesn't have a predictable schedule but it does use the enhanced podcast features like chapter titles and occasional photo slideshows. http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/itunes-meet-the-author/id266215977

Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon

Running since Oct 2010, still being updated. Interviews with authors. Fewer big names than the other podcasts, which means you hear some new voices. http://www.writersvoice.net/

Pen on Fire

From the University of California at Irvine. Discussions on art and writing, featuring interviews with writers, and occasionally editors and agents. Recent guests have included Edwidge Dandicat and Betsy Lerner. http://penonfire.blogspot.com/

Education - Craft and Workshop Podcasts

For this second class of podcasts, I look for those that focus on the craft of writing. These are sometimes hosted by working writers and sometimes feature speeches from workshops. On days when you want to take your writing seriously, and work on your craft, these are the podcasts to reach for.

Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcasts

This podcast features excerpts from classes taught at the Odyssey writing workshop held each summer. 16 writers are picked each year for this professional-level workshop, and it features published authors as teachers and lecturers. Each podcast is 15-20 minutes long and packed with useful information for more than just Science Fiction or Fantasy writers. These talks are aimed specifically at writers, not readers, and you should come away inspired to get back to your own writing after listening. Sometimes the talks touch on the publishing business, but more often the topic is craft-related. http://www.sff.net/odyssey/podcasts.html

Writing Excuses

Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells are writers and artists in the science fiction world. Their podcast's tagline is was enough to turn me into a fan: “15 Minutes Long, because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart”. They discuss the craft of writing from their perspective as working writers. The free-form conversation follows a different topic in every episode. As always, just because these guys are sci-fi and fantasy writers, this does not make their advice applicable only to SF writers! http://www.writingexcuses.com/

The Writing Show Slushpile Workshop

Story consultant Paula B takes first chapters from a listener/writer and critiques it. This grew out of the most popular segment of her former podcast The Writing Show. I’ve always found it useful from time to time, to really tear apart someone else’s work and see what they’re doing - what works, what doesn’t and why. This show is all about doing that. Maybe you’ll even be brave enough to submit your first chapter... http://writingshow.com/


Litopia hosts four different podcasts: Litopia After Dark, The Debriefer, Between The Lines and Open House. Litopia After Dark is a "A literary salon" with five hosts, each of whom brings a topic and gets a different discussion going, and a chatroom where people can send in comments during the broadcast. It is extremely well produced and it is fun. Good for reminding lonely authors in our garrets that we're not alone! Between the Lines is an interview-with-the-author podcast and Open House is a call-in show ("Skype-in", actually). My favourite, though is The Debriefer podcast hosted by Florida lawyer Donna Ballman. She covers legal issues as related to writing: using legal issues in stories, legal issues that affect writers. It’s a short, focussed podcast and I find it quite fascinating. http://www.litopia.com/radio/

You May Also Like:

Holly Lisle on Writing

This one violates my policy of not reviewing podcasts that are no longer being updated. There are only six episodes of this podcast, from 2006 but they are so tightly focused on the craft of writing, that I wanted to include them anyway. She seems to have moved on to creating products like workshops and classes that she charges for (and I don’t blame her one bit), so grab the free podcast info and graduate to paid classes if you like her stuff. http://hollylisle.libsyn.com/rss

Writing For Rookies

This podcast is aimed specifically at non-fiction, science fiction, screenwriting and comic book writers. It's relatively new but promising. http://writingforrookies.podcastpeople.com/

Bonus Inspiration

Since you've read this far, here's one bonus podcast which is not aimed at writers but is a treasure trove of ideas, speech patterns and stories that pack an emotional punch.


Storycorps is a group that collects real-life stories for the National Folk Archive in the US. Storycorps takes its mobile booths all over the country and invites people to bring a relative or friend in, and interview them. From the old New York couple talking about their first date, to the girl who lost her fiance on 9/11, to the 100 year old southern triplet who used to dance in sideshows, to daughter interviewing mothers...just try listening to these without tearing up, I dare you. Then go away and figure out how to do the same to your readers ;) http://storycorps.org/listen/

So go forth and listen: listen in your car, listen while you do housework, listen on the bus...just don't listen when you should be writing! Do you have any writing-related podcasts to recommend?

 - Julie Duffy

Reader Comments (16)

Wow, these are some great links! I thought I was up on my writer podcasts, but apparently I am definitely not. Thank you so much for this.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Allen

Thank you! I'm always looking for more interviews with writers--for support and insight. Although sometimes I worry I'm listening in hope that one of these writers will reveal the secret I've been missing out on.

I like to listen to Studio360.org. They do not always interview writers, though many times they do. However, they interview lots of creative people, and I find that listening to musicians, actors, painters, designers, and other sorts, add to my inspiration and understanding of the creative life too.

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarta

I'm so glad you enjoy The Debriefer! Thanks so much for the mention.

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Ballman

Thanks so much for this. I am a real fan of podcasts - a way I can multi-task and "read" when I don't have time to sit down and open a book or magazine (which is most of the time).

One that I absolutely love is The New Yorker monthly fiction podcast:

It is always one well-known New Yorker fiction author reading and discussing the work of a different New Yorker fiction author - so you get to hear a story, as well as hear a very enlightening analysis of it by another fiction writer.

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline Windh

Thanks, I have just subscribed to several.

A great one I've found is Books and Authors from the BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/openbook


February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

Oo, great additions, everyone. Studio360 is a fascinating show, always inspiring. And I didn't even know the New Yorker did a fiction podcast. Looking that one up now...

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Great review of the podcasts available to writers. Thanks, Julie and Debbie!

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTherese Walsh

Oh, awesome. The only good writing podcast I'd found is Writing Excuses, which you mentioned, and I'm absolutely obsessed with it. I'll definitely have to check out some of these other ones you posted.

February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndré

What an excellent post! Thanks so much for the thorough insight on the different podcasts for writers--it's not an area I've had time to delve into yet, and to be honest I had no idea where to start. I've bookmarked your article to check out the links in more detail. Thanks again! :)

Thank you so much for mentioning The Writing Show, Julie!!! So glad you're enjoying it.

Now, ahem, where is your chapter for the slush pile workshop?

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaula B.

Krissy, dive in and have fun. The beautiful thing is you can download a bunch and then unsusbscribe from the ones that don't do it for you.

Paula, Aargh! I mean, "erm, being polished, ma'am." ;)

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Being polished, eh? Okay. I can wait.

:) Hee hee!

Seriously, I know how hard it is for writers to send in their chapters. Even though the workshops are anonymous, people get really nervous about hearing their work critiqued in public--or even privately. I know how that feels. I never want to push anyone. But I do want people to know that the opportunity is there.

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaula B.

Thanks Julie, I certainly will. Thanks for the kick in the pants to get started! ;)

Thanks, Julie and Debbie! This post was chocka. Wow! I had no idea there were so many podcasts out there for writers.

March 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIshta Mercurio

Fantastic information Julie (many thanks to you Debbie for hosting!). I really haven't checked into podcasts for writers before - although it's been on my growing list of things to get around to - and this wealth of information you've compiled is absolutely the very thing I needed. Thank you!

March 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Forte Abate

freelance writer

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPENNINGTONErma22

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