And don't forget to join the conversation!
The same applies for writing books, when I feel I need a quick refresher course. I’ve listened to many writing books since I picked up my pen, hoping to hone those skills every writer needs to perfect their craft, but I often find that they leave something to be desired in the way of practicality. Teach me the rules of writing, sure, but give me practical, real life solutions to common problems writers face, as well.
This is where the Podcast Writing Excuses really shines. Three writers with a real sense of what it’s like to be a burgeoning author get together once a week and dole out informative and—just as important—entertaining advice on what it takes to be a writer. Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, and Dan Wells—with special guests from time to time—break down and examine writing techniques often taught, but rarely explained in such simple, easy to understand terms. They cite examples, often brainstormed on the spot with hilarious results, of how to avoid narrative summary, stilted dialogue, stereotypical characters, and other common writing pitfalls.
Their tagline, “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart,” sums up the flavor of the quarter hour long show. They offer gut-busting humor paired with real insider secrets to help you blow the dust off that old manuscript you’ve tinkered with for the last nine months. I found one nugget of wisdom frighteningly true while listening to an episode titled, This Stinks and I’m a Horrible Writer, since I found myself in the latter subject’s shoes during the beginning of my writing career.
“There are two groups that never get published. The first group writes Chapter 1, says it's trash, and then writes Chapter 1 again -- day after day, week after week. The second group says that's awesome and writes and writes. They finish a book, say it's trash, and start another book. They never go back and revise.”
Having recently discovered Writing Excuses, I’ve missed many of their older shows. However, they have a very efficient tag system and search engine to help you find a Podcast on nearly any topic you might need help with. Since catching up with all the older shows, I’ve become a constant listener of their show, receiving alerts on my Blackberry each and every time the dynamic trio hit the stage. In a day and age where many if not most of us are too overwhelmed to sit and read (“If I have time to read, that’s time I should write,” sound familiar?), it’s refreshing to have such an informative source in a new, convenient medium.
You can find Writing Excuses at their website, or download the podcasts through a special offer delivered by a sponsor of theirs, Audible. I’d suggest starting with the first episode. Listening to these three guys getting into the swing of things, while still very informative, is absolutely hilarious.
—Dave Suggs, Jr.
Dave Suggs, Jr. is a freelance writer and novelist who has written three novels, one of which built a fan base of more than 6,000 readers online before publication. He also has written a score of short stores, many of which have been published and one of which was a recent winner of the Abbey Hill Literary Short Story Competition. He was also nominated for a GCE Writing Award, and has participated in writing groups and workshops.