Thursday, May 5, 2016

Study the Craft of Writing Through Podcasts

by Lynn H Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I’m a firm believer in studying the craft of writing. That’s why I read as many books on the craft as I can.

But I’m in a season of life where reading time is limited.

Maybe you can relate? You’d love to spend more time learning about everything from the business of writing to how other writers handle crippling fears, but you barely have enough time to write, much less read about writing.

Enter podcasts.

If you aren’t familiar with podcasts, think of them like radio shows you can listen to whenever it’s convenient for you. 

I find my best times to listen are when I’m in the car, while I’m getting ready in the morning, or while I’m cooking dinner in the evening.

Podcast apps are available for smart phones.
You can pull podcasts up directly from their websites and listen to them from your computer, but if you’ll be listening on the go you’ll want to check out the podcast apps available for smart phones. There are plenty of free options that allow you to subscribe to your favorites so you never miss an episode. (I have an iPhone and there is a podcast app built in).

Another reason to try out a podcast app? Most have this handy feature that allows you to listen at 1.25x or 1.5x or even 2x the speed. So if you want to listen to an hour-long podcast but you only have a 30-minute commute? No problem!

I asked my friends, did a few Google searches, and wound up with a long list of writing podcasts to check out. I’ve listened to most of them and here are four that I’ve gone back to again and again.

1. Firsts in Fiction - This podcast is hosted by Aaron Gansky and new episodes air weekly and run around an hour in length. He usually chats with his father, Alton Gansky, and “social media ninja” Molly Jo Realy. The podcast begins with an “Ask the Author” segment and then they discuss different topics related to the craft of writing. There is so much authorial knowledge on this show—it is not to be missed! Bonus: The show is recorded as a Google Hangout on Tuesday evenings and you can watch it live or catch it later at your convenience. The transcripts from the show are also on the website. 

2. Novel Marketing - This podcast is “the show for novelists who want to become best-selling authors” and is hosted by Thomas Umstattd, Jr. and James L. Rubart. It airs weekly and the episodes run 15-30 minutes. Recent topics include “How to Write a Crazy Cool Author Bio” and “How to Make Maximum Money” and “How to Grow Your Email List from 0 to 10,000.” I’ve found myself binge-listening to this podcast and with 80 episodes so far there are lots of great topics to choose from. Added bonus: they are just fun to listen to.

3. Writing Excuses - This podcast is hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. It airs weekly (new episodes appear on Sunday evenings) and their tag line is “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” Writing Excuses made Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites of 2016 list and has won lots of awards. They are on their eleventh season, so definitely take the time to hop over to the website and search out the archives. You can also find transcripts from all their previous episodes. So much great stuff!

4. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing - This podcast is hosted by the Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogerty, and airs weekly. The episode lengths vary but usually run 10-15 minutes. She begins the episode with a “Quick and Dirty” tip on sticky grammar questions, then transitions to the “Meaty Middle” where she tackles different wordy topics. This show is a bit heavy on advertisements, but that’s when I hit the “fast forward 15 seconds” button in my podcast app so they don’t really bother me. This podcast is great for “word nerds” and “grammar gurus” as well as anyone who struggles to remember when to use affect versus effect. 

If you’re interested in trying out some podcasts, give these a shot and see if they are a good fit. And if you have a favorite podcast, share it with us in the comments and tell us why you love it.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. 

She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. 

She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at


  1. Lynn, This is great news. I make it a point to learn daily. These Podcasts will become part of my schedule. Thank you.

    1. I love your attitude toward learning! These podcasts are so educational - I hope you enjoy!

  2. I love Writing Excuses & Grammar Girl. I'll have to check out the first two.

  3. Thanks for the list, Lynn. I like podcast and am ready to launch a podcast for my audience (homeschoolers) but I need a trusted source to help me apply it to my website. Do you have a recommendation?

    1. Let me do some checking and I'll get back to you!

    2. Thank you, if you want...JenniferHennWriter@gmail

  4. My husband listens to podcasts all the time. I'd never thought about instructional writing podcasts until your post. Thanks for the tip.

  5. Lynn, I admire you and your talents so much that I'll take a step forward in checking out the podcasts. You gave a persuasive presentation here. This senior techie challenged will jump in with prayer and your phone number by my side.

    Thanks for the information. You're great. Share on!

  6. Lynn,

    Thanks for the list.

    I've been listening to NovelMarketing for over a year and have listened to every podcast in the archives. Some two or three times. I've even had a question answered a time or two on the Q&A Extravaganzas every tenth episode.

    I listened to Writing Excuses for some time and enjoyed it, but it fell off my radar for some reason. Thanks for putting it back on the radar.

    The other two bear exploration, since I like to listen to podcasts while I do laps indoors.

    Now that you've sharpened my appetite, are you planning a followup post with more suggestions?

    1. Hmm...that is an excellent idea! Maybe in a few months after I've had time to vet another round. :) Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. Thanks for this, Lynn. We recently upgraded to iPhones so knowing about this app is helpful to me.