I love the conversational style of many podcasts. They allow the listener to get to know a podcast’s host(s) and their guests in a very real way, and that’s nice. But it has a downside. Sometimes tips, tricks and advice you came for can get lost in the chatting and banter. Sometimes, just sometimes, you wanna get what you need and sneak out the backdoor without a by-your-leave!
Short podcasts are like the one-night-stands of the podcast world. They’re for writers that wanna get straight down to the nitty-gritty. Writers that don’t want to get to know their podcast hosts. Writers that are a teensy bit commitment-phobic. And sometimes, I’m one of those writers. They are also for busy writers who have to cram their writing-related learning into time snatched here and there.
So I went on a journey of discovery, to find the shortest and sweetest podcasts around, and here they are:
When it comes to the main focus of this podcast, the clue is in the name: this girl digs grammar. Grammar isn’t exciting, let’s face it, but she deals with her subject-matter with such enthusiasm that she manages to transfer some of her excitement to the listener.
In terms of the rest of her content, I’d describe it as eclectic. She explores interesting linguistic conundrums and the origins of certain words. These things might have no practical use for the majority of writers, but they’re interesting all the same.
Listen to this: I’m known to commit a wide variety of criminal acts with commas, so here is a good episode on the comma splice.
WARNING! I originally believed that this podcast would provide me with fresh excuses for not writing. Some new excuses would come in reeeeaally handy. I was very disappointed when I realised that this channel provides you with ZERO writing excuses. Zilch. None. Nada. Instead, this crowd of ‘bait and switchers’ have the gall to offer advice on how to get writing again. Disgraceful! So if writing is what you want to do, this podcast is really very good. If you’re looking for ways to explain your lack of writing activity, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.
Writing Excuses is a very popular podcast that has been around for twelve years. They have a massive back-catalogue of brilliant podcasts featuring a stable of excellent hosts and a huge variety of different guest writers, so the voices and perspectives are well mixed and kept lively, fresh and interesting from week to week.
The USP of Writing Excuses a writer’s podcast is that its episodes are short, and they rarely stray over the twenty-minute mark. Perfect. There is no room for idle chit-chat or digressing here. Each episode contains craft-focused advice. Each season (of which there are now twelve) focuses on a different aspect of the job of writing a novel. Also, they have transcripts for all of you committed ‘readers’ out there as well as writing exercises to practice what you have learned.
Listen to this: I found it hard to pick one podcast because there are so many good ones. I settled on this one: ‘Blocking’.
This podcast is hosted by writer K.M. Weiland, and she has put together over four-hundred episodes, very few of them straying over the fifteen-minute mark. It doesn’t feature guests or other hosts, it is just her lovely voice offering lovely writing advice. The content varies from book reviews to opinion pieces on how to write a novel. At the beginning of each episode, she manages to squeeze in a short update what is going on in her world, followed by snappy, on-point bursts of advice, so you feel like you get to know her as a person whilst also getting the benefit of a nice, short podcast.
Listen to this: Check out the 12 February 2018 episode – ‘Cohesion and Resonance! Cohesion and Resonance! Cohesion and Resonance!’
Ann Kroeker’s podcasts are proof that the best things come in small packages. There are only a handful of episodes over the ten-minute mark. There’s a mix of really useful content for writers here: from advice on how to effectively use social media to managing your perfectionist tendencies. This podcast is great for inspiring you to write and spurring you on– Kroeker is a coach after all! There isn’t as much craft advice here as in the other podcasts I recommend, but there are still some great craft gems to be found.
Listen to this: I find editing to be the most confusing and overwhelming part of the writing process, here’s a great podcast episode on High-Level Edits.
This podcast has two formats: ‘brainstorms’, where the hosts dissect the works-in-progress of aspiring authors and come up with ways in which they can be improved, and ‘insights‘ where the hosts interview experienced authors. The latter is the category that I’ll be focusing on here.
These podcasts are supposed to be around 20(ish) minutes in length, but I’ve had to interpret that very liberally, some of the episodes clock-in at double, or even triple that. Regardless, there are some short ones to be found, and they are well worth a listen. The guest writers, as well as discussing their current work, will also discuss the ways in which they approach writing problems. The podcast shows that different writers approach problems in different ways. Most writing guides operate on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ basis, but there’s more than one way to skin a lemon (I don’t allow the abuse of cats in my idioms), and it can be discouraging when you approach a problem in a ‘traditional’ way only to find that it doesn’t work for your novel.
Listen to this: ’20 Minutes with Gail Carriger’ : Gail covers a lot of ground in this thirty-minute episode, such as her approach to editing and her immersive approach to research.
The podcast episodes are described as ‘small and mighty’ and they certainly are. This is a podcast aimed primarily at readers, so it features a lot of author interviews and readings from big names such as Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan. But the real gold for writers, in my opinion, is to be found in the discussions around thematic trends. The hosts and guests discuss things like memory, and Greek mythology, and black history. There is so much here to inspire and inform a writer as we listen to people, experts in their chosen topic, dive deep and share their knowledge with the audience.
Listen to this: The theme of memory and its connection with identity is a common one in novels. In ‘Do Our Memories Make Us Who We Are?’ the hosts discuss this question with Wendy Mitchell (author of the memoir, ‘Somebody I Used to Know’) and neurologist, Jules Montague.
This is an old, and sadly defunct podcast from 2008, but the beauty of writing tips is that very few of them go out of date. There are only thirty-four gorgeous episodes, author-interview based, and they are absolutely TINY in terms of length, rarely do they reach over the ten-minute mark. They are like the snickers of the podcast world, a satisfying snack but it is dense in terms of content.
Listen to this: Tanika Gupta on ‘Voice‘.
You have probably heard of Jeff Goins by now. This goes to show how good he is at putting himself out there. He is proof positive of what effective self-promotion can do. He now makes a living from writing, something so many of us aspire to.
The episodes in this podcast aren’t all short, but many of them are around the thirty-minute mark, so I’m including this podcast on my list. There are some craft episodes in there, but the vast bulk of his content falls into two categories: practical business advice and more abstract advice on inspiration and the magic of writing.
Goins is well aware that modern writers are expected to be many things. Gone are the good old days that writers could shut out the world, get drunk and get on with the business of writing. Most writers hate the idea that they will have to get involved in the murky business-end of books, but unfortunately, all writers now have to make efforts to sell themselves, regardless of whether they are self-published or not. It’s not enough to just write a great novel, you have to tell the world how great it is– just enough to get it into people’s psyches, not so much that you seem like a braggart or the literary equivalent of Del Boy trying to flog your wares out of the back of a scratched old van. It’s hard to imagine being a salesperson as an author and maintaining your dignity, but Jeff can help you out here, because he’s a good writer, but he also happens to be a skilled salesman and platform-builder. Things that all writers should aspire to be.
Listen to this: This is a good episode about establishing your platform personality 3 Steps you can Take Today to Start Making a Living Writing
Add Sarah Werner and 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop