The one writing podcast you need

I’ve been a podcast addict for a few years now. If you’re sceptical, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I don’t particularly like listening to the radio because I just want to hear my favourite songs, I don’t need all the inane chatter – so when it came to podcasts, I assumed that’s all it would be. That, or dry topics like politics. Nothing that would interest a creative type like me. *flicks hair*

Reader, I was so wrong.

A brief history of my love for podcasts

The first podcast I ever listened to, and still my number one, is My Favorite Murder. If you’re into true crime, with a side of humour and heartwarming honesty, you should definitely give it a listen. It was recommended to me by a friend and after just a few episodes I was hooked. The hosts are incredibly open and honest about their past struggles with addiction, mental health problems, and their advocacy for therapy as self care. They’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes like End the Backlog and helped raise awareness of some really important issues, with their signature mix of humour and heart. I’ve been to see Karen and Georgia live twice now and am the proud owner of a “Here’s the thing” mug and t shirt. (SSDGM to any fellow Murderinos out there.)

The next podcast I came across was the aptly named My Dad Wrote a Porno. I think it was Samantha Shannon on Twitter that first introduced me to this one, and when I saw several other well-known authors tweeting about it I knew I had to check it out. Essentially, Jamie’s dad writes erotic adult novels under the pseudonym Rocky Flintstone (they’re real, you can buy the ebooks), and his son reads them aloud on air, a chapter at a time, while his two friends and co-hosts poke fun at the cringe-worthy writing. It’s hilarious and a great lesson in how not to write, but as the presenter is the author’s son, it’s all in the name of good fun.

Since then, I’ve discovered lots of other favourite podcasts from recommendations by friends and people I follow online, including:

  • Crime Junkie – straight up true crime covering cold cases and under-reported crimes, plus its spin-offs Red Ball and Full Body Chills
  • The Murder Squad – crowd sourced investigations, helping give John & Jane Doe’s their names back and solving cold cases through web sleuthing
  • Happy Place – mental wellbeing and self care chats with Fearne Cotton and other famous folk
  • Ctrl Alt Delete – conversations about careers, business and growing up online with the “internet generation”
  • Is this Working? – a look at the modern day world of work and how it has changed, and how we can make it work for us

But the real reason why I’m shouting in your face about podcasts today is this…

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88 Cups of Tea

Never heard of the 88 Cups of Tea podcast? If you’re a storyteller of any kind, you need to rectify that immediately.

88 Cups of Tea is hosted by Yin Chang, an actress and writer from the US, who interviews authors, screenwriters, agents and other figures from the publishing and entertainment industries. If you have a favourite author, particularly within the YA category, then they almost definitely have an episode of 88CupsOfTea.

All the greats have been on it, including Victoria Schwab (her episode is an absolute must-listen, whether you’ve read her books or not), Holly Black, Sarah J. Maas, Holly Bourne, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cassie Clare, Renee Ahdieh, Marissa Meyer, Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah Dessen, Susan Dennard, E. Lockhart, Angie Thomas, Beth Revis, Marie Lu, Sabaa Tahir, Samantha Shannon, Maureen Johnson, Tamora Pierce. NEED I GO ON???

With over 130 episodes, a fair few of which are with literary agents and industry insiders, there’s definitely something for everyone, even if you can’t commit to listening to every single one. (I still haven’t listened to even half yet!)

The beauty of 88Cups is that it doesn’t matter what genre you read, or write, or whether you’ve even heard of some of the authors interviewed, they all have something to say that you will benefit from hearing. I can’t emphasise this enough, you will learn something and take away some little – or large – nugget of information, inspiration or motivation from each and every episode.

Yin has a way of making you feel like you’re listening to two old friends chatting, and she isn’t afraid to ask the big questions. You’ll hear about the guest’s childhood and upbringing, how they fell in love with books and started writing, what challenges they faced in making time for their writing around work or kids, or the years they spent in the query and submission trenches, and how they got their “big break”.

Ultimately, you’ll realise with every episode that you are not alone. Choosing to live a creative life and making a living from our art isn’t ever the easy option, but the passion we have for what we create makes it worthwhile. If you need a hit of inspiration, or a little reassurance that your art is valuable, or even a kick up the backside to pursue your passion, then just listen to an episode of 88Cups and you’ll soon be back at your keyboard, with a cup of tea in your hand and a fire in your belly.

Lyndsey

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On the writer’s block – Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Happy New Year! It’s been a few months since the last Author Toolbox Blog Hop, what with NaNoWriMo and the festive break, but we’re back with the first hop of 2019. (I’m a little late as I’ve been away for a couple of days!)

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Whether you’ve been writing for years, or you’re new to the craft, you’ll almost certainly have heard of writer’s block. You’ve probably even suffered from it, to some extent. And if not, then you most likely will at some point in your writing career. (Sorry!)

Laini Taylor, author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and the Strange the Dreamer duology, just posted a great thread on Twitter about one dangerous misconception about writer’s block. Click below to read the full thread.

In the thread, Laini opens up about how challenging she finds the writing process, and how rarely the words just flow out of her without resistance. So, if you’re battling writer’s block or find writing really hard work, even though you love it, you’re not alone. Even the greats like Laini Taylor (I mean, have you read Strange the Dreamer? Perfection.) hit a wall with their writing at times.

Writer’s block can manifest in a number of ways: you might struggle to find the right words, or it might feel more like performance anxiety – the fear of not being good enough may stop you before you’ve even started. It can hit you at any time in your writing career, whether you’re sending your first draft off to beta readers – finger hovering over Send, paralysed with fear – or you’re publishing your twentieth novel and worry it won’t be as well received as your previous works.

The important thing to remember is that it will pass. You will write again, you’ll find the words, become inspired and have moments of flow. But only if you KEEP WRITING! Push through the blockage, persevere and write even when it’s slow and painstaking. Even if you cut half (or more) of what you wrote while blocked during editing, it’s a necessary process that will help you break through the blockage, and ultimately become a better writer.

We won’t always feel inspired, sometimes writing will feel like pulling teeth, but the key is to keep at it, keep working on your story. Writing, like any job,
is hard work, and whether it’s your career, your side hustle, your passion or your hobby it won’t always be easy and fun. You’ll stumble sometimes, hit a wall and struggle to climb over it, but the only way you’ll finish your novel, type those two little all-important words, and ultimately publish your book, is if you don’t give up.

Laini shared a book on her Instagram called Around the Writer’s Block: Using brain science to solve writer’s resistance, which discusses all the various obstacles writers may face that could cause us to struggle with our writing. It focuses on the scientific reasons for writer’s block, and habit-building to help us make it a thing of the past. It worked for Laini, maybe it will work for you?

One of the methods that lots of writers champion is free writing, opening your notebook and filling a page or two each day with whatever comes to mind. You can use a prompt if it helps you to get the pen moving, but there’s absolutely no pressure for the words you write to turn into a story, or ever even be seen by another human being. You don’t even have to read it back yourself if you don’t want to!

Whatever you find helps you to break through the block, just remember you’re not alone, there are probably a thousand other writers going through the exact same thing at the same time. Why not reach out to the writing community online for some friendly encouragement? Twitter and Instagram are great places to start, just use the hashtag #amwriting and you’re sure to get a fair few responses from your fellow wordsmiths! And don’t forget to share your tips for what helps you when you’re blocked, we all need a little advice sometimes so add your voice to the conversation, you never know who you might help.

Lyndsey

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Finding your tribe – Author toolbox blog hop

It’s time for another Author Toolbox Blog Hop! Huge thanks to Raimey Gallant for hosting this fantastic link up between writers at every step of the publishing journey, and those who just do it for fun!

Being a writer can be a lonely existence at times, especially if it’s your full-time job, so this month I thought I’d give you some tips on finding your tribe – those like-minded individuals who share your love of writing and will celebrate and commiserate with you, whatever the writing milestone.

Whilst many writers are introverts, needing time alone to recharge their batteries, there are also many extroverted writers out there who need social interaction to refill their cups, so I’ve included some suggestions that will appeal to both types.

Not sure whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert? Take the Myers-Briggs test and find out!

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Blogging and blog hops

First things first, blog hops like this one are excellent for getting to know other writers and bloggers! Not only do they help you build a list of brilliant blogs to follow, they encourage you to interact with as many of your fellow bloggers as possible, building a real sense of community. You’ll make internet friends that might even become IRL friends! And you’ll learn a lot in the process, so you can’t really lose.

Suitable for both introverts and extroverts, as there’s a lot of interaction involved but it’s all from the safety of behind your computer screen, plus you can pick and choose when and who you interact with.

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Social media

The main places you’ll find a big writing community are Twitter and Instagram, and there are about a million hashtags that you can start by searching, e.g. #amwriting and #writerlife. You can also find most of your fellow bloggers’ social accounts listed on their blogs, so you’ve got a ready made list of people to follow and connect with right there.

There are loads of Twitter chats you could join in on, some generic and some specific to genre or demographic, e.g. #storysocial, #storycrafter, #RWchat for romance writers or #FemalesInFantasy for women SFF writers.

Again, there’s no pressure for introverts on social media – getting overwhelmed? Log off for a few hours. Don’t enjoy a particular chat? You don’t have to join in next week. Share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with, and don’t forget the gifs!

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Writer groups

This one’s for the extroverted writers out there. If you’re happy to read your work out loud in front of a room of relative strangers and receive criticism to your face, then writer groups could be for you. You can search online for your nearest group, or head down to your local library where many writer groups meet, or post flyers on the notice board. Most groups invite published authors to speak about their work, their writing process and publishing journey, so you’ll learn something as well as getting valuable feedback from your fellow writers.

In my experience (from that one time I attended a group… #introvertsunite), there’s often a weekly (or monthly, depending on the group) theme on which you’re expected to write a piece, so it’s not all about your passion project, but that in itself can be a great way to broaden your range and practice using different styles. Plus, you’ll be meeting writers who live near you, so if you become firm friends with someone you could even ditch the group and start your own little writers meetup at your favourite coffee shop!

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NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is a fantastic way to connect with other writers, and there’s a good mix of activities to suit both introverts and extroverts. You can register on the website and track your writing progress, adding your writing buddies from social media and the real world. You can join your regional group and chat with local writers in the forum, sharing tips and advice. You can even attend write-ins and meet your regional group in person, if being surrounded by other writers tapping away at their keyboards gets your creative juices flowing.

If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo (have you been living under a rock?) it’s a month long challenge that takes place every November, where writers aim to clock up 50,000 words in 30 days. There’s also Camp Nano every April and July, when you get to choose your own target, whether it’s a word count, page count, or hours spent writing. You can join a “cabin” with other fellow writers, making it an even more interactive experience. And now you can use the Nano website to track your writing goals all year round!

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Pitch competitions

If you’ve been around here for a while, you might know I entered Pitch Wars back in 2017 with my manuscript The Fair Queen. I didn’t get in, but that almost didn’t even matter, because I discovered a community of writers at a similar point on their publishing journeys who share their experiences and advice, boost each other up when they get knocked down, and celebrate each other’s wins on a daily basis. There’s such a sense of kinship and friendly support when you take part in pitch competitions – despite the fact you’re all competing, there’s no bad blood whatsoever. Everyone cheers everyone else on, there’s room for all of our books out there in the world, after all!

There are lots of pitch competitions on Twitter throughout the year, Pitch Wars even has their own pitch party on Twitter for those who didn’t get into the main mentoring competition, called #PitMad. iWriterly has compiled them into a handy calendar so you can plan your entire year around pitch competitions!

Getting into the competition is honestly just a bonus – OK, OK it’s a bit more than a bonus – but the greatest thing about these competitions is, you guessed it, the community! Take the opportunity to find some beta readers and critique partners, and build a support network of like-minded writer types who’ll be there for you on every step of your journey to publication.

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I hope these tips help you to find your tribe like I have, I really recommend taking advantage of some of these brilliant opportunities to meet other writers and start building your own writer community.

Do you have any other suggestions for great places to make writer friends?

 

Lyndsey

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