Since I’m mostly alone–all day, every day–I like to listen to other voices. But TV is pure distraction for me. I can’t have it on in the background, and I’ve never been able to think well when looking at multiple screens.
Podcasts are different. The best ones are like listening in on the conversations of smart, helpful people. The fact that they’re all strangers doesn’t matter. I have several must-listen podcasts (Welcome to Nightvale! Roderick on the Line!). But here I’ll just mention three that apply most to writers.
The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast: This is the most relevant one on the list (since I’m a writer who self-publishes). Simon Whistler finds guests who represent a variety of perspectives to discuss many aspects of writing: working creatively, managing output, publishing, marketing, etc. Some names you might recognize: Hugh Howey, Johanna Penn, Russell Blake, and others. Each show addresses one specific topic–but even those that might not seem to apply to everyone (non-fiction writing, for example, which I don’t do) still offer great advice that’s broadly applicable to writing and publishing. Simon does his homework, asks great questions, and stays on point. For added value, he’s British, which makes the show exactly 28% smarter just because of the accent. (That’s how that works, right?)
Why not start by listening to this one about not looking to outliers (with Hugh Howey)?
Back to Work: This is not a podcast on writing or publishing, but it is loosely geared toward the idea of working. If that sounds vague to you, you are so right. Though the show is nominally about productivity, the two hosts, Dan and Merlin, get derailed by any number of important topics: comic books, music, parenting, germ theory, or the sociological experiment that is Florida. But it’s funny as hell, and Merlin usually manages to pull himself together by the end to deliver a practical mediation on some topic germane to the concept of work. Often it’s about office work, dealing with management, or deciding what work you want to do with your life. But some episodes also cover more esoteric issues like agency or creativity. Merlin excels at taking all those nebulous ideas about work that we’ve all had, and then nailing down the core of them so they can’t wiggle off the examining table and back into the dark recesses of our minds before we’ve at least identified the problem. Dan will then diffidently explain how the Buddha approached the same issue. And did I mention the comic books? They talk about comic books. A LOT.
Why not start by listening to this one about the Vocational Wheel?
Homework: Another show on the trusty 5by5 network, Homework is what Back to Work might be if Dan and Merlin actually stayed on topic (except for the mandatory 5by5 comic book aside, which is here too). Not just a clever name, Homework is literally a podcast about working from home, and therefore is useful for anyone who does any sort of freelancing or creative solo work. Most of the episodes take on a very specific topic. Workspace! Sleeping habits! Scheduling! Billing! Accounting! For writers, not all topics will be relevant. But if you self-publish, you are a small business owner, so most of it is stuff you’ve worried about. Aaron and Dave are delightful nerds who want to help.
Why not start by listening to this one about working for exposure?
If you’re a writer like me–or if you enjoy comic books–check out a few episodes of these podcasts. Do you have any other podcasts you find useful as a writer or worker? Share it in the comments…
Jocelyn Koehler writes science fiction and fantasy. Learn more and find links to her published work at her personal blog, Team Blood.