Friday, June 27, 2008

Writers Resources #3 - You Should Be Listening

With the rise of Apple's ubiquitous iPod and the popularity of portable MP3 players a new kind of media emerged - the podcast. For those that haven't heard of this latest media trend, a quick explanation. Podcasts are subscribable audio or video programs that are released through various services on the Internet such as iTunes, Podcast Alley and When you subscribe to a podcast through a service such as iTunes new episodes are automatically downloaded to your computer or media device when they are released.

Most podcasts have a format similar to a radio show and if you can think of a subject, there's a podcast out there about it. From super short 2 minute podcasts to shows that run several hours, podcasts may feature a single host, several hundred or no host at all. Podcasts have been used to teach classes, to release audio versions of books and as online diaries to name just a few.

As you would expect, there is no shortage of writing podcasts. The sheer variety and number can be quite daunting. A few, however, stand out. In the coming weeks, I'll cover some of my favorites. Let's start with one of the earliest and best.

I Should Be Writing, with host Mur Lafferty, began in August 2005 as a way for Mur to encourage herself to write and to share her road toward publishing with other wanna-be fiction writers. The show is released regularly and as of this post is up to episode number 92. Each show features writing advice about a given topic or an interview with a published author. Mur also answers listener questions and continues to offer updates on her own progress as an author. In the past, she's covered areas as diverse as how to find time to write, world building, caring for your muse, story structure, and of course how to find an agent and publisher.

Each episode is self-contained and you don’t need to listen to previous episodes to follow along and get something out of it. If, however, you want to listen from episode one you can do that as well – every single episode is available in the archive on Mur’s site.

The author interviews in particular are excellent and Mur has interviewed everyone from Neil Gaiman to Connie Willis and many, many others. Curious about self-publishing? There's a show on that. Want to know about author rights & copyright law? Ditto. There are very few topics Mur hasn't covered. The episodes usually run 20 minutes to a half hour so it's a quick listen.

Go listen and see what you think. The advice is good, the host charming and the episodes frequent. To find out more, search for I Should Be Writing in iTunes, via another podcast service, or visit the I Should be Writing website at

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