25 best podcasts for creative writers and aspiring authors

Audio can be a bit of a contentious subject among written word lovers. But we’re not here to re-litigate the age-old debate over whether listening to audiobooks counts as “reading” (it does, by the way).

Writing can be a lonely profession (or currently unpaid passion, until it can become your profession). But podcasts can bring listeners a sense of community no matter how isolated they are in their interests, both emotionally or geographically. As the illustrious history of famous literary circles goes to show, it often takes a village to produce the singular creative geniuses of an era.

So for established authors and writers or amateur creative writers with big aspirations alike, there’s a lot to be gained from the virtual book clubs and writer communities behind the podcasts listed below. Whether you’re looking for guidance on the writing process, seeking to learn the fundamentals of great literature or about the publishing industry, or looking for muses to refill your well of inspiration, we’ve got you covered. From fiction to memoir, screenwriting to playwriting, and prose to poetry, there’s an endless world of audio storytellers just waiting to fill your ears with the written word.

1. It’s Lit

Let’s be honest: Literature — from book clubs to publishing — tends to gatekeep far too many people of color from nurturing their love of reading. But those who’ve been kept out are now finding more and more ways to break through the walls of white literary snobbery. The It’s Lit! podcast (hosted by Princess Weekes, an assistant editor at The Mary Sue) is the podcast spin-off of the popular PBS YouTube series by the same name. Covering a broad scope of genres, it offers refreshingly invigorating takes and far more relatable perspectives to literary discourse. The guests (who include Ibi Ziboi and Mikki Kendall) and conversations cover much of what traditional literary circles too often leave out (like whether “the classics fail us” or why diverse young adult fiction is so important), creating a bookish space that’s as inviting as it is enthralling.

2. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Delving into the ins and outs of grammar can be, shall we say, boring. (Apologies to our editors.) But this beloved show from host and author Mignon Fogarty (formerly a science writer and journalism professor at the University of Nevada), brings a much-needed lack of judgment along with accessibility and actual fun to learning about the nitty-gritty of the English language. It’s an essential resource for writers of all sorts, diving into not only the rules (and how and when and why you can break them) but also the historical and cultural contexts behind them. [Adapted from our Best Educational Podcasts list]

3. Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!

Academics trace many of the modern Western storytelling conventions back to Greek mythology, from act structure to archetypes. This podcast allows writers to familiarize themselves with that foundational source of their craft. Host Liv Albert, an author who studied classical civilizations and English literature at Concordia University, does an amazing job of rendering the ancient texts both accessible and exciting, without sacrificing nuance. Deeply researched yet conversationally casual, the podcast analyzes the gods, heroes, and creatures of Greek myth through a variety of modern lenses, from feminism to queerness and even neurodivergence. The formatting ranges from solo episodes with multi-part-series deep dives around a theme to more broad conversations with other mythology experts. While you’ve definitely heard of these myths before, you’ve never heard them told quite like this.

4. Lore

Host and author Aaron Mankhe sets the tone for the quiet grimness of this phenomenal oral storytelling podcast, his somber narration of folklore (both ancient and contemporary) intermingling with melancholic piano notes. Each episode explores a compendium of hauntingly beautiful tales both real and imagined, from human monsters like serial killer H. H. Holmes to more mysterious myths like that of the alleged werewolf of Bedburg, Germany. The common thread is our collective unconscious, with the moral of the story always coming back to a central aspect of the human condition and the existential questions that have haunted us for ages. [Adapted from our Best Podcasts for Horror Fans list]

5. Unpublished

The creative writer’s life is a series of ego battles that we mostly face alone, so it’s vital to remember that, actually, countless others are also fighting in those same trenches. The simple yet powerful purpose of Unpublished with Amie McNee (author of The Rules Upheld by No One) and James Winestock (a research student at the University of Sydney currently working on three yet-to-be published novels) is to give you a space to unabashedly “take your art seriously.” Through insights from them and their occasional guests (like social psychologist and author Dr. Devon Price), you learn about the many different ways to tackle all the barriers to practicing the craft, whether emotional or practical. From abandoning false concepts of “laziness” to handling failure, the more stigmatized parts of the writer’s journey are brought into the light through intimate and informative discussions.

6. What Should I Read Next?

It’s the question that looms over every avid reader as they begin to reach those final pages of a good book. What the hell am I going to read next? Word of mouth can often be one of the best ways of finding new books to love. But in the absence of an IRL book club or literary community, there’s this great podcast. Every week, author and blogger Anne Bogel (perhaps better known as Modern Mrs. Darcy) picks a listener, often an author themselves, to talk about their work and get some help on their next book-finding hunt. After asking them about what they like, dislike, and want to get out of their next read, she makes personal recommendations across all genres. It’s not only a clever way to give listeners ideas about what to read next, but also inevitably turns into a discussion about all the different reasons people love to read. And that’s vital information for a writer as much as it is for a reader. You can submit your own reading recommendation request to the What Should I Read Next? podcast via the show’s website.

7. The Moth

The Moth has been around for decades, though not necessarily in audio form. The New York City-based nonprofit started with live storytelling events and contests (StorySLAMs with themes like “Saved,” “Scars,” and “Gratitude”) in 1997, and now exists as a podcast featuring short stories from the speakers’ real lives, performed in front of a live audience. What makes the podcast so great is its simple format: people sharing their stories. The tales are heartfelt, humorous, original, and sincere, and they’re told by everyone, from comedians to professional storytellers, like Hari Kondabolu and Elna Baker. You’ll hear of exotic dancing, heartbreaking high school rejections, and experiences with Australian wildlife that will make you laugh, cry, and everything between. [Adapted from our Best Storytelling Podcasts list]

8. The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt

If you’re in the market for both interview-style and more lecture-like advice on everything from the fundamentals of story structure to the nuts and bolts of technique, genre, process, and industry navigation, this is the podcast for you. Host Andy Chamberlain, author of the science-fiction book The Centauri Survivors, provides lessons on how to improve your writing. Other episodes tap a range of successful writers who work in a variety of different mediums, from TV to comic books. Featuring authors, journalists, playwrights, poets, etc., the podcast provides a unique perspective on how to approach a specific craft. And with a short 30- to 45-minute run time per episode, it’s easy to incorporate into your own routine.

9. Write-Minded

This is yet another conversational shop-talking podcast, but Write-Minded stands apart thanks to its hosts, two seminal community-builders who created some of the most important resources for new writers. Since 2012, Brooke Warner has helped women break through sexist barriers to entry around publishing with the popular She Writes online community and She Writes Press. Meanwhile, Grant Faulkner leads National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the competition that’s been the catalyst for hundreds of thousands of authors to take the plunge and write a 50,000-word original work of fiction in a single month. Their podcast is one of the more soul-bearing and honest on this list, and ideal for writers who lack a support system or writers’ group to not only discuss the difficulties of the craft but to exchange ideas and inspiration. Topics range from the titillating world of erotica storytelling to helping set your writing free of expectations to finding your own voice.

10. Snap Judgment

Snap Judgment, like The Moth, is based off a live storytelling show. The difference is that Snap Judgment, which is produced by NPR and hosted by beloved radio personality Glynn Washington, adds musical accompaniment to stories, usually making for an experience more along the lines of slam poetry. Public listening risks public tears, thanks to Snap Judgment’s moving and affecting stories. It’s a perfect well of inspiration for writers, and to the keen observer can be a fantastic teacher on immersive storytelling. [Adapted from our Best Storytelling Podcasts list]

11. Writer’s Routine

Writers often have a near-obsessive fascination with process and routine, whether it’s min-maxing their own or learning the details how successful authors approach it. Dan Simpson’s (author and poet-in-residence at Imperial College and St Albans Cathedral) interview podcast is by far the most nitty-gritty on this list. Award-winning and best-seller guests (including Bridget Collins and Trent Dalton) get asked about everything from their work schedule to the layout of their writing room and even preferred font. None ever give the same answers, and listening to the total chaos of even New York Times best-selling authors’ day-to-day routines is a comfort to all who are insecure about their own.

12. Well-Read Black Girl

Glory Edim began her online book club catered to Black women and girls back in 2015, but only recently brought that wonderful community to the podcasting world. This weekly show features intimate and joyous interviews with powerhouses like the 1619 Project‘s Nikole Hannah-Jones and Me Too founder Tarana Burke to discuss not only their own books, but also relationships to literature and “what it means to be well-read” as a Black woman in America. Whether you’re hunting for your next book recommendation or just craving a sense of community that avoids literature’s notorious gatekeeping, Well-Read Black Girl will make you feel seen and at home.

13. Phoebe Reads a Mystery

We here at ashable are unapologetic Phoebe Judge stans. If you fell in love with the award-winning journalist and beloved podcaster’s ASMR-esque voice (which inspires calm even while she’s describing violent crimes in her podcast Criminal), you’ll love this new one, too. Throw Agatha Christie into the mix, and you’ve got one of the best new podcasts to fall asleep to or enjoy while otherwise relaxing. Phoebe Reads a Mystery is exactly what it sounds like, and began by taking listeners through Christie’s The Murder on the Links through daily episodes that average about 20 minutes each. While it’s moved beyond just mysteries, the sonic and literary joy of her readings remain the same. [Adapted from our Best New Podcasts of 2020 list]

14. Written Off

Often, the most unheard voices of society have the most powerful things to say. That’s certainly true on Written Off, a podcast where the work of formerly incarcerated writers is spotlighted, capturing not only their striking lived experiences but also sheer raw talent. Each episode begins with host Walter Thompson-Hernández, author of The Compton Cowboys, speaking to the author about their work in a sort of preamble, before a cast of influential voices like Keke Palmer and John Legend bring that work to life in a reading. In a final debrief segment, Thompson-Hernández converses with the author about the experience of having their work read — and finally given the respect and recognition it deserves. The podcast is overflowing with a tangible sense of humanity, reveling in joy while never shying away from pain. It leaves all who listen with a renewed faith in the power of words to heal, process, and connect us.

15. The Writer’s Almanac

There’s some comfort to be found in brief dalliances with the (for lack of a better term) Old Fart’s conceit of capital “L” Literature. The Writer’s Almanac by Prairie Home Productions is a daily five-minute podcast that feels about as antiquated as the notable historical and literary events it covers from that given day’s past (like the sinking of the Titanic or recording of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”). You can practically hear the host’s handlebar mustache as he ends each episode with a classic poetry reading. As a quick teleportation into the past, it makes a lovely and unintrusive addition to one’s daily pre-writing podcast roster (if that’s what you’re into).

Every writer has that one classic they skipped the reading on when they were in school, only to regret it later on. That’s why Spotify’s list of original audiobooks, some even voiced by A-list actors like Hilary Swank, is a great treasure trove. Currently, it offers many of the classics for free, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. They even have a separate podcast for unpacking the literature called Sitting with the Classics. [Adapted from our Best Educational Podcasts list]

17. Helping Writers Become Authors

Exactly as the title describes, this podcast is all about how to turn the aspiring writer into a published author. Covering the same breadth of topics as other how-to advice podcasts on this list, this one is notably more accessible to beginners or folks who just don’t have an hour of more to devote to the topic. By offering 15- to 20-minute lessons on story structure, scene building, editing advice, character development, stress tests, and industry best practices, K. M. Weiland (author of several writer’s guidebooks and historical/fantasy fiction novels) distills huge chunks of information into very digestible bites.

18. Imaginary Worlds

Ironically, Eric Molinsky’s Imaginary Worlds — exploring fantasy and science-fiction storytelling across all mediums — is one of the podcasts most firmly grounded in our real world. But that’s exactly what makes it so great. By diving into the real-world forces that underpin our most beloved fictional universes, Molinsky, an NPR alum and audio fiction storyteller, helps us grapple with crucial social issues ranging from fascism to racism. But it’s all done from the safe distance of make-believe. Escapism, he proves, is hardly ever about turning away from our harsh realities. If anything, it’s about seeing them from a different perspective, so we can learn something about our world, ourselves, and each other in the process. [Adapted from our Best Podcast to Relax To list]

19. The Creative Penn Podcast for Writers

As one of the most long-standing podcasts on this list, The Creative Penn is a real tried-and-tested resource for indie writers carving their own path outside traditional publishing. Through weekly interviews and solo segments, host Joanna Penn, author of several nonfiction guidebooks and thriller fictions under the name J.F. Penn, provides some of the most essential guidance you’ll need to navigate the ever-shifting present and future of self-publishing. While there’s some craft and process talk, the podcast stands out as a business and marketing-oriented how-to that makes the less-loved aspects of full-time writing actually exciting to think about. Covering cutting-edge debates around the arrival of NFTs in the literary world to publishing fiction on Substack and authors using Kickstarter to fund their books, it’s a podcast that never allows itself (or you) to get stuck in its way.

20. One Upon a Time at Bennington College

For such a tiny college hidden away in the woods of Vermont, Bennington has produced a disproportionate amount of award-winning contemporary literary titans (full disclosure, it’s also my alma mater). This limited series from the Once Upon a Time podcast specifically tells the sordid story of the undergraduate friend group who would later become renowned authors Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch), Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), and Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn). Full of drugs, sex, greed, literature, and even murder, this riveting expose unravels the unwieldy madness and magic behind some of the most influential writers of Gen X.

21. Overdue

With a name that embodies the anxiety of never returning that library book you meant to read, Overdue is all about absolving you of your book debts. From the classics like Don Quixote to more offbeat must-reads like the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, this podcast is a cheat sheet to getting through conversations with snobs who will shame you for not knowing about one seminal work or another. With over 500 episodes (and counting), Craig Getting (education director at Lantern Theater Company) and Andrew Cunningham (author of thrillers like Wisdom Spring) summarize whatever it is they read so you don’t have to, taking time to analyze themes or the larger cultural context for why it’s considered Important. They’re the kinda hosts who aren’t afraid to describe Faulkner as a slog, bringing the ivory tower of literary elitism down a peg.

22. Poetry Unbound

While our list is targeted at helping prose writers, there is always room to be made for more poetry in all our lives — writer or otherwise. On Being Studio’s Poetry Unbound podcast is like a meditation for the creative writer’s soul, where host Pádraig Ó Tuama, an Irish poet himself, reads a poem (with permission from the poet) every Monday and Friday. Unlike a lot of other poetry podcasts, the reading imbues the words with the aliveness that makes poetry so universal, offering your mind a brief rest from laboring over the written word to instead become recharged by it.

23. The Book Review

It’s an age-old wisdom that, in order to write well, one must first read well. That’s what the New York Times’ Book Review podcast is for. As the authority on what books are worthwhile, the podcast adds actual interviews with the authors of notable new releases highlighted by the paper of record, and the critics tasked with reviewing them. Hosted by various editors of The New York Times Book Review section, it’s perfect for avid readers of the New York Times best-seller list — and those who one day hope to be an author featured in it.

24. The Big Gay Fiction Podcast

Queerness has always been part of literature’s history, despite often needing to be expressed covertly, or getting erased throughout time, or even leading to the persecution of various iconic LGBTQ authors. But there’s arguably never been a better time to be a queer author and reader, as more and more explicitly LGBTQ books begin to dominate best-seller lists. Big Gay Fiction Podcast hosts Jeff Adams and Will Knauss (the authors of several gay fiction books themselves) are here for it all, as your guides to gay romance novels and authors. Episodes feature exclusive interviews with authors like Ariella Zoelle, as well as a variety of queer book and pop culture recommendations.

25. But That’s Another Story

Most writers pick up the craft because they once read a book that changed their life forever, and they want to have that sort of impact on their readers. This magic moment is what But That’s Another Story seeks to capture, as host Will Schwalbe (author of The End of Your Life Book Club) interviews guests like Jodie Foster and Min Jin Lee on the novels that transformed them in one way or another. While, sadly, this podcast ended in 2020, there’s a treasure trove of episodes available that are sure to reignite your belief in the power of books to shape the world, one person at a time.

Author Profile

Web Desk

Leave a Reply