On podcasts for writers


With the shuttering of Iain Broome and Donna Sorenson’s Write For Your Life podcast last month (the promised final episode 159 seemingly lost in the ether), I thought I would take the timely opportunity to list a few of the other writing-related podcasts to which I occasionally listen, in the hope that someone else may discover a new distraction or inspiration.


First on my list, and probably my favourite of those I listen to regularly, is Scriptnotes, a weekly podcast by screenwriters John August (Big Fish, Go, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Craig Mazin (The Hangover Parts II & III, Identity Thief). As you might expect, it focuses on the craft of screenwriting rather than writing in general, but there is still plenty of writing advice, particularly relating to plot and structure, that is applicable to any writer, and the occasional detours into topics such as credit arbitration and Writer’s Guild of America politics are still entertaining and informative, thanks to the hosts’ well-polished relationship and knowledgeable banter.

I Should Be Writing

Probably the longest-running podcast on this list, I Should Be Writing is hosted by multi-award winning sci-fi/fantasy writer, Mur Lafferty, a 12-year veteran of the podcasting scene and winner of the 2007 Parsec Award for Best Writing Podcast. What started as “a podcast for wanna-be fiction writers by a wanne-be fiction writer” has evolved into a sporadic and at times rambling series of updates as Mur variously updates her listeners on her own publishing success (her debut novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City, was released in 2013), her thoughts on the craft of writing and the industry that surrounds it, and interviews other genre writers at conventions around the US, as well as answering listeners’ questions from time to time.

Writing Excuses

The Writing Excuses podcast is another group effort, this time with four simultaneous hosts, but is a lot shorter than most. The four writers involved — epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, The Wheel of Time), Hugo award-winning sci-fi author Mary Robinette Kowal, horror writer Dan Wells, and webcomic creator Howard Tayler — spend a nominal fifteen minutes each week discussing a specific writing topic, and offering advice to their listeners on how to avoid common pitfalls. Topics range from large (where ideas come from, picking a genre) down to very specific (world building for role-playing games was a recent example), and they close each episode with a writing prompt. The bitesize format makes it very easy to dip into and out of, and the group have been together long enough that they know how to play to one another’s strengths during their often animated discussions.


Finally, this is a newer one for me, so I’ve only listened to a couple of episodes. The three hosts of the Typehammer podcast don’t talk all that much about writing, as far as I can tell; instead, the focus of their show is the technology we use to help us write. Each week they discuss new software or websites that have at least a tangential relationship to writing, in between teasing each other about their lack of actual writing progress. Personally, I’m pretty happy with my writing technology stack (Scrivener, Tumblr, Ghost, and The Magic Spreadsheet), so I don’t know if I’ll keep listening, but I did discover audio focusing website, brain.fm, via a recent episode of Typehammer, and am in fact listening to its “Relaxing” focus music now, which apparently will help me to concentrate on the work at hand more effectively. You can judge for yourself whether the results are worth it.

So, those are my current podcast recommendations. I do plan, at some point, to refresh my list and see what new possibilities are out there; Iain Broome recommended both The Creative Penn and the Tea & Jeopardy podcasts, so I may well have to check those out soon.

If you have any recommendations for alternatives, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Matthew Pennell

Designer, developer, writer, runner, gamer, devil's advocate, INTP. Senior designer for Booking.com. Founder, Refresh Cambridge.