I’ve recently discovered the joy of listening to podcasts while doing things around the house–such as washing dishes or folding laundry. And as a writer, I’ve been happy to discover that there are lots of podcasts specifically about writing. But I’m not going to talk about those today. I’m going to talk about all of the non-writing podcasts that I’ve been discovering that help fuel my writing, either by providing me with practical information that I didn’t know I (or my characters) needed, or by fueling my imagination.
No matter what genre you write in, you’re sure to find all kinds of podcasts that will be useful to you in these ways. I tend to lean toward fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction, so most of the podcasts I seek out deal with those subjects. Sometimes I’ll just listen and let my brain absorb ideas–if a story idea pops into my head, I run to write it down, then go back to listening. Sometimes I seek out an episode of a podcast with a very specific subject that I need to know more about for one of my stories. And sometimes, whatever I’m listening to has nothing to do with anything that I’m working on, but just listening to the subject matter gets the creative part of my brain warmed up for writing later that day. If you don’t listen to podcasts, or only listen to writing ones, I highly recommend you give this a try. Here are a few of the ones I like to listen to the most:
(Note: all of these podcasts are available in the iTunes store, however, with the exception of a few, I’ve linked to their websites so non-Apple users can listen
This is one of my absolute favorites. It’s a lot like the Coast to Coast AM radio show, if you’re familiar with that. On the show, Jim Harold interviews guests about a wide range of spooky and/or esoteric subject matters ranging from ghosts, to cryptids, to government conspiracies, to alien abductions. Whether you believe in these kinds of things or not (I tend to lean toward very open-minded skepticism, personally. Just call me Scully), it’s a great show for keeping up to date with practically every fringe theory out there. That, and it’s great fun. Just maybe don’t listen to it before bed if you’re easily spooked.
This is another one of my favorites. It’s by the How Stuff Works people, and it runs along a similar vein as The Paranormal Podcast; however, there are a few differences. First of all, they typically don’t interview people. They also do extensive research and take a very unbiased approach toward each episode’s topic. They lay down the verifiable facts, the hearsay, what people claim to believe and/or have believed throughout history, and all possible explanations for the phenomena. If you’re the kind of person that is interested in this stuff, but might roll your eyes at the previous podcast, then this is the podcast for you.
Spy Cast fascinates me. It’s produced by the Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and is exactly what it sounds like: a podcast about spies–real spies–detailing the methods spies have used throughout history, as well as some of the more famous events in which spies were known to have been involved. They’ve even delved into current events now and then. Recently, they covered the dossier that’s been in the news lately about our president and, ahem, some…shall we say alleged shennanigans…in Russia. Don’t worry, they keep it completely appropriate. They’re more about the facts and are mostly apolitical.
I’m just listing NPR in general here, because they produce a TON of interesting podcasts that you’re sure to glean useful information from for writing research or inspiration. There’s How To Do Everything
(which is no longer making new episodes, but is still available in the iTunes store,) StoryCorps
, and Invisibilia
to name a few. I recommend you just search NPR in your podcast player and see what you come up with.
I also have several podcasts in my queue that I can’t vouche for because I haven’t listened to very many episodes yet, but so far, they’re promising: Myths and Legends
(this one is hosted by Matt Smith, Whovians, but don’t get excited like I did. This is not the 11th Doctor, unless he suddenly developed an Australian accent,) and Codebreaker
–which should appeal to sci-fi writers, because it covers brand new and in-development technology (cyborgs, anyone? How about bioengineering?)
I hope this has convinced you to branch out from writing-specific podcasts (though you should still listen to those too) and see what else out there can inspire your writing. And if you have any other suggestions, especially in a genre I haven’t covered, please tell us about it in the comments.
When she’s not writing, revising, or banging her head on the keyboard (it’s all the same, right?), Megan Paasch can be found playing her ukulele (badly), knitting (rarely anymore, unfortunately), or herding two amazing, but rowdy little boys (pretty much constantly) with her husband. A native to the Pacific Northwest, Megan earned her B.A. in History from the University of Washington. (Go Huskies!) Her favorite history subjects were, and still are, Women in History, the Tudors, and the Celts. You can read more about her here.