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5 Things -- Podcasts

It's time for another 5 Things post!

This is a series where I let my readers get to know me, my writing process, and my influences a little better by listing my top five things in a particular writing-related category. Today I'm talking about PODCASTS.

I credit my dad for getting me into talk radio. Whenever we were in the car together, he was always introducing me to something new. We listened to a lot of music (I also credit him for exposing me to jazz, reggae, and hip-hop, all genres of music I love today), but every once in a while he would flip the station to NPR. We would rarely listen to the news, instead tuning into some of his favorite segments: Codeswitch, All Things Considered, and Fresh Air. Hearing things like this let me know there was specialized listening out there for almost any interest I could imagine. If there were people who liked to talk about the things I enjoyed, I wanted to find them.

Obviously, podcasts about writing are a goldmine for me, and there are so many that I find useful that it was difficult to narrow this list down to five... which is why I didn't. You'll see what I mean.

Here are my top five(ish) podcasts that are dedicated to writing and the art of storytelling. There are oodles more out there, so if you are a writer please explore your options. These may not all be right for or interest you, but they are all helpful in the general sense, and they aid my individual writing process. All of these can be accessed via their respective websites or through any podcast cell phone app. Check them out!

1. How Writers Write

This one is straightforward, an aspect I appreciate in everything I encounter (including people). Hosted by Brian Murphy, a businessman with a passion for writing, it covers all the tips and tricks from the famous authors we love. If you're aiming for a career in writing like I am, knowing what works for successful writers is so valuable. Most of the time, an episode will focus on an interview with an individual author, and the authors featured are from all backgrounds and showcase different ethnicities and genders, a very important effort. There's also Murphy's Monday Motivation, where he highlights different ways to stay inspired, from setting goals to not giving up. This podcast is the perfect blend of meeting you where you are and showing you where you could be. And considering Murphy, in his own words, "failed creative writing twice," you know there's solidarity from everyone involved here, even the host.

2. A Way With Words

Hello, my name is Bianca, and I am a logophile.

Words are one of my many obsessions. I loved my linguistics classes in college, unaware that an entire study dedicated to the origin and usage of words existed. I'm often digging into the etymology of some word that has captivated me. I even subscribe to the Word of the Day from It's... a bit intense.

A Way With Words is a relatively new discovery for me, and though it's not related to the art of writing, per se, it helps me become a stronger writer by introducing me to the origins of all sorts of words and turns of phrase, archaic and modern, mundane and obscure. Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett co-host the weekly show, which is broadcast through member stations of NPR and then released as a podcast. There are over 1,500 episodes to choose from, as the show has been around since 1998, so the well of knowledge is almost bottomless! Barnette and Barrett take calls from people all over the United States (and sometimes Canada, if I'm not mistaken) and answer questions about linguistics, lexicology, and folk etymology. All writers should aim to broaden their vocabularies if they want to be good at what they do, and this is one listening experience that helps us do that.

3. Lore

Man oh man, do I love creepy stories.

I don't write them, but I plan to broaden my horizons and dip into new genres at some point. Even so, one of my favorite authors is Stephen King, and some of my favorite stories of all time are eerie or downright terrifying.

Lore is a critically acclaimed podcast, with other iterations that include books and a television show. It's written, directed, and produced by Aaron Mahnke, who is also an author of several supernatural thrillers. Each episode discusses the history behind a myth, legend, or cultural phenomena, and I've learned the backgrounds of some things I've heard about but never explored. I have found a kindred spirit in Mahnke, a man who is obviously passionate about history, the creepy, and the unusual like I am. His thoroughly-researched true life scary stories about creatures, places, people, and folklore are fascinating and addicting.

The point of my including this podcast on this list, though, is that even if you're not a fan of the macabre, this host knows how to tell a story. Writers have to know how to keep readers engaged and turning pages, and I'm learning so much about the art of addictive storytelling from Lore. As Mahnke's website says, "Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction." And whether you're writing nonfiction or fiction, you've got to sell it.

4. Create-If Writing

​Now we're diving into the realm of blogging, platform building, and selling yourself. Again, if you're interested in making writing a career, all your bases have to be covered.

This podcast definitely helps you cover them. Each of its over 180 episodes covers a different topic, giving advice to writers, bloggers, and other creative types on everything from social media presence to sales, being more productive and making good use of your time, marketing, and using your money wisely. I began listening to create-if writing once I realized I had to commit to my website and its blog and have a stronger online presence if I wanted to become a bigger name in the writing world. So, in a way, this podcast is the reason for this blog post. Create-If's host, Kirsten Oliphant, is the author of Email Lists Made Easy for Writers and Bloggers, so she's kind of an expert on getting yourself out there. She also writes fiction, and has experienced the difficulties of rejection from literary agents and writing while being a parent (two life experiences I and many writers can relate to). All in all, through Create If she aims to help the average creative become the next most-talked-about author. That's exactly the direction I'd like to head in, so I'm all over this one!

5. StoryADay

​Here I'm bringing us back to the literal practice of writing. StoryADay is simple and, once again, straightforward. The episodes in this podcast are short but pack a punch, as they feature tips for bettering your writing and boosting productivity, as well as prompts that get the creative juices flowing. Out of one fifteen minute episode can flow hours of writing, given the right hit of inspiration. And that's what we aim for every day as writers: collect the tools to create, and sustain the motivation to use those tools. This podcast's host is Julie Duffy, a public speaker and writer whose talks center on the creative process, self-publishing, and short stories.

"StoryADay" itself is a challenge, pushing takers on to complete a short story every day during the months of May and September. And there are a few other little challenges that writers can commit themselves to in order to stay active. According to the website, "StoryADay exists to promote creativity, not teach you how to be a published writer." So while you won't get all the secrets of the publishing world here, this podcast exists to help us establish something much more valuable: a foundation. After all, a prompt a day is the gift that keeps on giving, because if we start a habit, we'll keep a habit.

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. ... Habit is persistence in practice." -- Octavia Butler, author

**Honorable Mention**

The Manuscript Academy

I just discovered this podcast, and I'm so excited about it I had to include it! Episodes are released weekly and also feature interviews from people across many roles of the writing world: editors, authors, and -- most exciting for me -- agents. As a writer whose goal from day one was getting a literary agency to represent my work, I'm soaking up all of the insight about marketability and publishing world success that I possibly can. What better way to learn how to be a hit with literary agents than from the agents themselves, right? It's like being given the exam and the answer key at the same time! Score!

Was this "5 Things" post helpful? Want to send me suggestions for future lists? Go to the "Contact Me" portion of my website and send me comments, or follow my Twitter and get at me!

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