Writing Inspiration from Podcasts

Why hadn’t anyone told me about podcasts?

Sure, I knew about them. But no one told me, “It’s like listening to your own tailored radio show,” or, “It’s like getting a TED talk or free lecture on something awesome.”

I was a guest myself on several episodes of Paolo’s podcast, called Thoughts on the Table on his blog Disgraces on the Menu, and that’s when I began listening to them (check them out! They’re fun; we talk about cultural differences between the US and Italy, the Mediterranean Diet, and Italian wine culture).

Podcasts are not only entertaining, but on a more practical note, they save my vision. Is it just me, or does everyone spend their lives with something electronic a foot and a half from their faces? Computer, smartphone, even when I’m relaxing it’s a Kindle. I don’t imagine it improves my already-poor eyesight. In another day and age, I’d have Coke-bottle glasses.

Even more than entertaining or eye-healthy, I’ve found podcasts to be a constant source of inspiration for writing. If you select well, they spark new ideas and virtually introduce you to incredible people. I haven’t listened to a podcast yet that didn’t feature guests, from prominent writers and bloggers to successful business owners and designers.

I like how podcasts force you to slow down a notch. You can’t skip ahead to see if it’s worth listening to, like jumping down the page to the next titled section. You have to give it time to sink in.

recent post on Seth Godin’s blog describes how I feel about podcasts now.

I can’t listen to something new without not listening to something else. Which makes it challenging to find the energy to seek out new ones. … there’s room for an infinity of stories, from an infinity of podcasters. But we’re crossing a line and from now on, the game is less infinite than it was, because our time is finite.

I feel the overload as I slide through them all on my phone. What if that one had the exact episode I needed? What if this one had inspiration I was searching for? (And this is called FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out)

Well, to kindly save you from podcast anxiety, I wanted to list a few of my favorite podcasts here, all of which inspire me to write or at least to jot down notes. I always try to have a small notebook and pen in hand when I listen. The list is far from exhaustive; I haven’t even listened to half the episodes on each, and there must be tens of thousands out there – each podcast with dozens to hundreds of episodes to its name. (There it goes again: podcast anxiety.)

Several of them are writing podcasts, but in writing – as in life – inspiration comes from everywhere.

Here are four that I regularly listen to, with a recent episode I’ve enjoyed for each.

The Writing Show with Paula B. In-depth interviews with authors and writers for some great writing information, tips, and inspiration. This began in 2005 and finished up in 2014 – so while there are no new episodes coming out, there are archived ones to last quite a while. Check out Wisdom from a Long Writing Career with Maralys Wills

Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Author of the bestseller Happier at Home (and several other bestselling books), Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth, with an occasional guest, speak lightheartedly about everyday issues, actions, and habits that affect – what else? – your happiness. Short, sweet, and always thought-provoking. Check out Episode 27: Choose the Bigger Life, Identify Your “Tell,” – and I Reveal Whether I’ll Get a Dog

Design Matters with Debbie Millman. Guests come from all different creative backgrounds and experiences but have one thing in common: passion for their work. I can’t really put it better than the website: “an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with designers, writers, artists, curators, musicians, and other luminaries of contemporary thought.” Who knew that talking about fonts could be so inspiring? Legendary designer Massimo Vignelli, of course. Do you find the difference between charm and glamour fascinating? I did after listening to author Virginia Postrel. Just pick a name! It’s guaranteed to be interesting.

The Fatal Charm of Italy with Rick Zullo. Its name says it all. Rick interviews a different expat with almost every episode, and the results are always fun to listen to. A recent one I liked was FCI 020 Funny Things about Living in Italy with Marsha DeSalvatore. Next time I’m in Rome on the last Friday of the month, I’m heading down to see the Rome Comedy Club! This video on customer service is spot-on. I love the second shopkeeper’s dead stare.

What about you? Do you listen to podcasts, and if you do, what are your favorites? I’d love some recommendations!

9 thoughts on “Writing Inspiration from Podcasts

  1. Thanks so much for the kind mention. And I agree with what you say about podcasts being a nice “break” from reading. Not to mention that you can listen to them anywhere. I listen to my favs when exercising, and inevitably I come home with a few mental notes to inspire a blog post or a new project that I’ve been thinking about.


    1. Absolutely–keep the fun podcasts coming!
      I also enjoy breaking out the podcasts on those rare occasions that I iron. Actually, I find myself ironing a lot more clothing with a good podcast to listen to! Maybe I’d run longer, too? Worth a try.


  2. I’m so glad you’re enjoying The Writing Show, Diana! Thanks so much for the mention! There may be another episode coming. We’ll see. If I do post it, I’ll be thinking of you ironing when I do.



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