Long ago, in 1992, before podcasts were ever created, Julia Cameron presented a simple equation, feed your mind and it will supply you with creative inspiration. She called it ‘filling the well’ (from The Artist’s Way).
According to the latest science, inspiration comes from your brain amassing all your experiences, observations, activities, emotions and interests. Then, using its phenomenal plasticity, the brain mixes everything together to endow your imagination with odd, charming and terrifying inspiration. Inspiration that enables you to create fantastic worlds, rich characters and details that pull your readers in.
Both art and science agree: the more you ‘fill the well’, the deeper and richer your writer’s well of inspiration will be.
Podcasts are one of the most readily available sources of new, engaging and downright odd information. They are a way to research characters or narrative worlds, learn more about your craft and spice up your creative inputs. For this time-poor society, maybe the most attractive thing about using podcasts to inspire us, is that they can be listened to anywhere and anytime.
I reached out to the hive-mind of the IWC teachers to find out which podcasts they turn to for inspiration. Whether directly related to writing or writing adjacent, we hope you’ll find them inspiring as well.
Karen Kao recommends The Splendid Table. She says, “Food plays such a central role in my writing that I can justify drooling over a food podcast as research.” Other favorites are Sticky Notes (on what makes great classical music), Literary Friction (a UK based talk show, hosted by an agent and a writer) and Lit Hub’s First Draft (US-based author interview), all of which she listens to on long-haul flights.
Sarah Carriger is hooked on Everything Everywhere as a way to stimulate and feed the brain. For a daily taste of poetry, The Slowdown with US-poet-laureate-to-be Ada Limón. For longer listens, The New Yorker Poetry and Fiction podcasts (including The Writer’s Voice), BBC Radio 4’s Books and Authors, and Lit Hub Radio’s Thresholds.
Wende Crow says, “I absolutely love Everything is Alive. Every episode is an interview with an inanimate object. I have a couple more favorites: Invisibilia, Radiolab and Sleep with Me, which is a boring but funny storyteller who helps insomniacs fall asleep.”
As for me, I prefer Backlisted due to my fascination with books that get forgotten. Be warned! This podcast will increase your ‘books to be read’ list exponentially. My Dad Wrote A Porno teaches me that even bad writing can lead to something wonderful. The Commune, the structure of this journalistic series, reminds me of what good journalism can do.
And don’t forget about our own Master Class podcasts all available for free to listen!
On your adventure into podcasts, I challenge you to explore the most obscure topics you can find in this marvelous format. Listen to journalism, war, horror, love and crime and be inspired by the new and the unknown. Whether you love them, hate them, become addicted, or find an unknown or temporary interest, you’ll soon be drawing your inspiration from a deeper, richer well.