I don’t talk to many writers, so I am usually on my own when it comes to getting inspiration or instruction in the art of writing.
I don’t go looking for writing info but sometimes it sneaks up on me anyway. Reading The Habit of Being, a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s letters, I came away steeped with her advice. I actually now stick to a set writing time every day, even if all I write is nonsense, because she told that to many different writers who asked her “secret.” I also learned to love her wit and devout Catholicism, which helped me to see those qualities reflected in her short stories.
I read Stephen King’s On Writing because I loved Danse Macabre, his history of the horror genre and its influence in our country. I came away with … well … much the same advice. Half of the book was a snappy autobiography and half was writing tips. First and foremost? Write at a set time every day, even if it is nonsense.
It turns out that most writers give that as their basic guideline. Sit down. Write. Do it every day, preferably at the same time. Treat it like a job.
Oddly enough it was through a group of readers and audiobook listeners that I discovered the pleasures of writing instruction. The SFFaudio podcasters love a good story but are not interested in writing them. However, they do enjoy listening to authors give tips on writing. When I followed their lead, I not only found good listening but interesting ways to think about story telling. I don’t write fiction, though I have begun dabbling in it, but I still find it fascinating.
Here are a few podcasts that I find helpful. Or simply enjoyable. Whichever works, right?
Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.
A panel of well-known, published writers give their takes each week on common writing subjects like Finding Your Voice, Man versus Nature, Writing the Omniscient Viewpoint, and the City as Character. They also recommend an audiobook (which is how I discovered Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series), give a word of the week, and give a writing prompt to get you started.
Passionate about the craft and magic of storytelling.
Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens began with StoryWonk Daily, where they did 5 fifteen-minute episodes a week. They worked their way through weekly topics like Worldbuilding, Good versus Evil, Storytelling on the Small Screen, and the Five Types of Irony. This is larded with examples from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cheers, and other pop culture goodies. And a word of the day, of course! They recently began StoryWonk Sunday where their writing discussions take up one longer one session instead of spreading it over the week. I am working my way through the daily episodes (which must be manually downloaded) and then will begin the Sunday version. They also have classes which I can easily believe are useful based on the podcasts.
The cure for boring Shakespeare
As Ehren Ziegler says, his show is dedicated to picking apart the works of William Shakespeare, scene by scene, and offering a fresh and entertaining look at some old goods. I listen to this not because Ehren gives writing tips but because he loves Shakespeare so. An actor as well as Shakespearean play lover, he demystifies the plays and shows characters motivated by love, hate, joy, envy … in short, humanity is revealed for us all to recognize. There is nothing like reading a good writer to get your own inspiration flowing and you can’t go wrong with Shakespeare … or Chop Bard.
Just the Books
Always wished you could get the jokes at parties but never had time to read those pesky classic books everyone sub-references? Well, here’s your chance to do it the easy way: Stick a book in your ear!
Heather Ordover began CraftLit for crafty folk who wanted to listen to a book when their hands were busy. The Woman in White, Tristan and Isolde, Dracula, The Scarlet Letter and Flatland are just a few of the books that have been covered. Like the literature classes you always wished you had, Heather gives context, highlights the important parts of each chapter, and, more importantly, communicates her passion for the books. Just the Books is the sister show to CraftLit, where the crafty bits have been lopped off so you are left with … yes … Just the Books. Again, this is about being exposed to great literature and the authors’ intentions. These are things that rub off on anyone who loves words and stories, like writers!