Podcasts Writers Should Listen To
Podcasts are a great companion for a drive, a walk, a run, or an afternoon cleaning the house. With these writing podcasts, you can even convince yourself you’re getting some work done while you’re on your evening stroll!
Podcasts have become increasingly popular in recent years, and with that, the range of topics you can explore through listening to podcasts has expanded, too.
Below is a list of some of my favorite podcasts, which for me, feel like they enrich my writerly mind. I should note up top that these aren’t just podcasts about writing (though, some are!). This list is a mix of genres, with each one offering something different for writers to consider.
This American Life
This American Life is a master class in storytelling. Though the format tends to be radio documentary, occasionally a special piece of fiction will make its way onto the show. Each week, a theme is chosen and the show tells several stories on that theme. It explores all aspects of American life — often mundane, specific, and poignant. This American Life started as a radio show and is now accessible as a podcast. If you’ve never indulged in it before, it’s definitely worth a listen.
The Moth Podcast
The Moth is a live storytelling series that happens on stage in various cities. Stories are told live, on stage, without notes. The Moth Podcast is a collection of those stories as they’re told on stage, often bundled by theme. Like This American Life, The Moth has a lot to offer a writer by way of learning about the flow of a good story. Stories that make it onto The Moth Podcast are well-crafted, told with ease, and almost always end on a note that gives a listener chills. I’ve learned a lot about how details are presented and how they crescendo to an ultimate dénouement from listening to The Moth.
Armchair Expert follows the model of a lot of other podcasts — it’s a long-form interview with someone notable. Though there are many podcasts to choose from in this genre, I chose Armchair Expert for this list because it’s hosted by the actor Dax Shepard and his friend Monica Padman, and the pair bring a lot of intrigue to the format. First, Dax studied anthropology in college and is a deft interviewer. He has a way of really stripping back the layers not only of his subjects, but of himself. He and Monica are both down to earth enough that you feel like you’re really getting to know both them and their guest. For a writer, windows into the minds of others — be they writers, actors, or experts — is a fascinating journey, and this show tends to host all the above.
The Writers Co-Op
The Writers Co-Op is a business-focused podcast for those who are looking to work as freelance writers. Hosts Wudan Yan and Jenni Gritters each work in the writing world as freelancers, and they share a bevy of information pertinent to freelance writers of all levels. Recent topics have included how to manage and maintain work-life balance, how to get clients to pay you on time (or how to hunt down late payments — the freelancer’s dilemma), and how to establish rates that are fair to you and the quality of work you produce.
I Should Be Writing
I Should Be Writing is hosted by writer Mur Lafferty, who interviews writers about their process and journeys to get to where they are now as well as practical advice and musings. Recent episodes include musings on why one should bother creating anything during a pandemic, how to learn about writing from cooking shows, time management, and taming a distractible creative mind.
My Favorite Murder
You’ll have to be a true crime fan to want to dig into this one, but, My Favorite Murder is a fun listen for those who find themselves drawn to the narrative punch packed by real-life crime. One of my favorite things about My Favorite Murder is the format: in each episode, hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark tell each other the story of a real-life murder (or, in some cases, near murder). They often aim to shock one another, plotting their details in just the right way so as to inspire a gasp from their co-host. It’s fun to get sucked into the dynamics between the pair and the stories they tell, but for a writer, there’s also the lesson of how details are presented and how that presentation impacts the person on the receiving end.
Sticking with true crime — Criminal is a short, digestible podcast that is hosted by Phoebe Judge, who I see as one of the absolute best interviewers of all time. In Criminal, Judge interviews people who either committed or were the victims of a crime. The subjects can range from whimsical to serious, but the through-line is always Judge’s incredibly calm (disarmingly so) voice. She often asks questions I could see myself being too timid to ask, but she does it in a way that is so nonchalant and intimate that she almost always gets a response from her interviewee. Criminal is not only an interesting journey into the narrative, but it’s a delight for those who are drawn to studying people and the dynamics between them. Plus, that voice.
What do you think? What are some of your favorite podcasts? Have you ever considered how, even the ones that aren’t about writing, might be teaching you something about your craft? It’s an interesting thing to ponder. I hope you enjoy exploring some of the suggestions above!