There are so many great writing podcasts out there now that it’s easy to find a whole wealth of expertise specific to your writing style. I’ve found that they’re a great way to start the day and inspire me to sit behind the keyboard and start tapping.
Listening to someone else talk about the craft can spark the motivation I need to get going, getting me in the right mindset for a day of writing. In many ways, it’s like having easy access to a network of like-minded people, where you can hear their successes and learn from their struggles.
And while you could passively listen to the same old podcasts for hours and hours every morning, there are ways you can switch up your podcast time to really develop your craft.
Try getting out of the box by discovering non-writing podcasts that can help you while also enjoying the best writing-focused episodes the podcast world has to offer. If you’re ready to mix things up and broaden your listening, try these five different ways to get you started.
There’s a whole world out there! And while we might have forgotten it thanks to a certain pandemic, listening to podcasts can help you discover new people, fresh opinions, and different perspectives.
Choose a podcast from someone you haven’t listened to before, someone from another part of the world, perhaps, and tune in to how they speak. Do they use any common words or phrases unusually? Do they raise their voice at the end of a sentence? Do they have any quirks that interest you? Jot down some notes, and keep them handy for your next writing session.
And it’s not only the podcast hosts’ voices that can help. Listen to how others live their lives, hear their opinions, and find out more about what it’s like to stand in someone else’s shoes.
Thankfully, there are plenty of real-life storytelling podcasts out there. Try Modern Love for stories on romance and relationships in today’s world, or Other People’s Problems to hear real people discussing their own struggles with a therapist.
It’s simple to see so far how these podcasts might help fiction writers. Still, even those in the world of copywriting or advertising can benefit. Think about your brand voice or your target audience. What sort of podcasts do you think they listen to? Maybe you’re writing for an athletics company—check out the latest sports podcasts to see what words and phrases are commonly used. If you’re writing for a nutritionist, are any of their competitors hosting weekly podcasts? Find the right show, and you could have a direct line to the voice of your audience.
Writing a novel? You’ve probably listened to the Honest Authors’ podcast. Freelance copywriter? You’ll know all about The Copywriter Club. Or maybe you’re a screenwriter. You’ve heard every episode of Scriptnotes.
But how many times have you dipped your toe in a different podcast pond? Authors can learn plenty about structure from screenwriters, while copywriters can benefit from improving their storytelling techniques. Reading a whole book on another writing craft might take too long, but a podcast offers you that hour-long dip into a world of knowledge. You might find you learn heaps from another writing style, or you might even want to give this new style a go yourself.
Personally, I’ve learned so much from listening to screenwriters talk about how they structure a story. Naturally, doing so has helped me in my fiction writing, but surprisingly, it’s benefited my copywriting, too. Everyone loves a good story, and knowing how to tell one can build that connection between brand and customer.
So dive in, learn the basics of a different genre, and see how you can apply it to your work. Can you use the structure? Do they give particular advice on tightening sentences or descriptive language? How can the way screenwriters set the scene give you some food for thought in your written work? Active thinking and questioning while you listen could open up a whole new skill set for you.
If the average writer isn’t a word nerd, I don’t know who is.
Thankfully, there are plenty of podcasts appealing to our grammar obsessions. Try Grammar Girl or 6 Minute Grammar to find out where to place those pesky commas. For a deep dive into words and language, try Gyles Brandreth and Susie Dent’s Something Rhymes With Purple.
I’ve found these are super helpful when going through the editing process of any piece. Listening to a grammar-focused podcast in the morning helps me switch to the analytical mindset I need to really focus on the details of each sentence. Sometimes we can be in such a hurry to get the words down that we don’t take time to consider the mechanics. So, listen to these grammar-goody-filled podcasts to turn a dull sentence into a sparkling one. And by the way, if you love grammar and all things wordy, you’ll adore our recent article on how wordplay can enhance your writing.
You never know, you might just find that word that helps you break through the writer’s block …
I’d bet that podcasts are among the most untapped source of inspiration, as many see them simply as informative rather than a source of creative stimulus! Too many people reach for the usual podcast charts and hit play, but there’s a deluge of creativity buried deeper in the podcast pool.
Fiction writer? Check out The Folklore Podcast or Myths and Legends. Love thrillers or want to ramp up the tension? Spotify has an entire playlist devoted to the best episodes of true crime podcasts, Crime Scene UK.
But it doesn’t have to just be an inspiration for your fiction. Listen to How I Found My Voice or TED Talks Daily to be inspired by the fiction, nonfiction, and business writers who make a difference in the world today. There are plenty of ways to use podcasts to inspire your writing; you just need to dig a little deeper by treating them as you might treat the world.
We all hear the advice that writers should keep their notebook handy while out and about. Try keeping your notebook handy when you listen to podcasts, too. You’ll be more aware of things that could spark ideas, and you can jot them down as you go.
If you want to get started, use the search function to find a few in an area you’re interested in. A handy tip is to listen to the first five minutes of a podcast at 1.2x or 1.5x speed. That way, you can get a quick taster in less than five minutes, and you haven’t spent hours wasting time on mining through hours and hours of podcast audio.
It might take you time to find the right fit, but make it a habit to search for one new podcast a week, and before long you’ll have your own go-to list of inspiration.
This one might seem obvious to the freelancers out there. Still, many fiction writers or entrepreneurs might not realize—experts are giving away free advice on how to better succeed in the sector. There are many authors explaining how they build multiple streams of income, while others explain how they apply their writing to another sector to make money.
Business-focused podcasts may even help you identify how to move from part-time writer enthusiast to full-time working writer. Listening to experts in your field might be the way to figure out how to improve, what you’re doing wrong, or how to better attack the market you’re approaching.
Try The Creative Penn Podcast for Writers to learn how to make a living as an author, Being Freelance to hear from professionals across the freelance industry, who are not all writers, or Writers’ Rough Drafts (hosted by CYC’s own Elisa Doucette) to hear from editors what they look for in a pitch. Most hosts helpfully title their shows so you can zone in on the episodes you need. Don’t forget to check the show notes where hosts usually put useful links or further advice.
This past year has been tough, and maybe you’ve found yourself sticking a podcast on in the background just to hear another voice. But next time, consider actively listening to your playlist to find out how it might be able to help your writing. Whether it’s learning more about life in someone else’s shoes, finessing your sentences with top grammar tips, or diving into a new genre to build your craft, there are so many benefits that podcasts can provide.
The enormous wealth of expertise out there might seem overwhelming at first, but take it step by step, and soon you’ll love searching for and discovering new voices. With just a bit of research, you can find podcasts that help you improve your craft while on the commute, brushing your teeth, or having breakfast. It’s time to tap into this fantastic resource and make it work for you.
Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and children's author. She's a real bookworm, but when she's not reading or writing, she's probably planning her next trip to a far-flung destination. Visit her website at copycontentandmore.com or follow her on Twitter @RebeccaKing__