The 14 Best Writing Podcasts

In 1959, Jack Kerouac sat down at his typewriter and compiled a haphazard list of thirty “guidelines” for writers. His nuggets of wisdom included such zingers as “blow as deep as you want to blow” and “struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind.”

Whether Kerouac would have done the podcast circuit to promote “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose” is a question lost to history, but the enduring fetishization of the writing process shows that sources of creativity have always been elusive. If these writing podcasts are anything to go by, writers’ secrets are coveted like truffles amongst hungry pigs.

We all know that talking about writing is easier than actually writing. Listening to the podcasts on this list won’t substitute sitting down and putting words on paper. But it is impossible to deny that whether you are a freelance journalist or a budding novelist, the process of looking for inspiration can be a lonely one. This is where writing podcasts can become a useful resource to support your creative practice.

If you’re going to procrastinate, at least do so by listening to one of the best podcasts for writers to inspire your work.


Prestigious graduate programs have been coveted by aspiring writers for decades. But times are changing. Having an MFA is not necessarily a prerequisite for success — or a financially accessible option.

Gabriela Pereira is not claiming that her podcast, DIY MFA Radio, is a complete replacement for a grad program. But her popular show provides a toolkit for writers seeking to diversify and strengthen their craft. The show delves into most questions about the publishing world you’ve always wanted to ask — if you can get past being referred to as a “word nerd” in the first thirty seconds.

Through interviews with award-winning writers like Jojo Moyes, Brenda Jackson, and Steve Berry, DIY MFA substitutes a seminar for soundwaves. It explores everything from the obvious (“How to Turn Characters Into People”) to the useful (‘An Inside Look at Tropes in Literature’) and the unexpected (‘Crafting an Amish Romance’). The best part: no student debt.

Longform Podcast

Many career journalists dedicate their lives to longform writing. Chronicling the development of such writers and storytellers is Longform, a weekly podcast that showcases the slow burn of creative nonfiction in an internet age that rewards clickbait.

A recent surplus of episodes featuring writers promoting books and novels isn’t necessarily a drawback. It’s perhaps symptomatic of the recent resurgence in book sales, hardly something to be disappointed about. With a broad scope and a diverse set of guests, Longform does a great job covering a changing industry — especially the way people previously excluded from magazine writing have broken onto the scene.

The Writer’s Voice

For nearly a century, The New Yorker has been publishing some of the best new fiction, from extracts of the latest Ben Lerner novel to short stories by Rachel Kushner and Tessa Hadley. But here’s a secret: you need neither a subscription nor much spare time to enjoy new prose. The Writer’s Voice is part of the magazine’s excellent podcast catalog, which includes shows dedicated to both fiction and poetry as well as The New Yorker Radio Hour.

What makes The Writer’s Voice different is suggested in its title. These writers are reading their own work, giving each an additional layer of intimacy. Sure, it’s no indie show. But the prestige attached to the magazine attracts some of the best writers working today. If you’re a contemporary writer interested in how “our moment” is represented on the page, this is the podcast you should be listening to.

The Underground Writing Podcast

Describing the aim of Underground Writing, the organization’s executive director, Matt Malyon, writes: “We use creative writing as a shovel. . . And the soil, prepared by the literature, is pliant.” An accomplished and poignant example of how writing can create a positive impact beyond bookshop shelves, Underground Writing is a creative writing program that serves migrant, incarcerated, and other at-risk groups in northern Washington. The long hours involved in completing a book can breed solipsism, even egotism.

Although sometimes necessary to finish a project, these feelings often make the process isolating. Listening to The Underground Writing Podcast reminds us that, at its core, writing can inspire hope. We don’t need fancy grad programs to create something with substance. Writing belongs to everyone — even, and perhaps especially, the disadvantaged. Created by Malyon alongside Alvin Shim, the project has continued to produce podcast content throughout the pandemic, giving a platform to voices often forgotten in the noise.

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The Writer Files

With episodes like “How to Write a Book in One Month” and “5 Things Only Serious Writers Do,” The Writer Files is a response to our obsession with productivity. The show features a combination of interviews with writers on the minutiae of their routines and analyses of the science behind creativity, tapping into behavioral techniques to make its listeners more efficient writers.

Some might argue that using neuroscience to deconstruct the magic behind writing risks turning artists into automatons, yet it is undeniable that The Writer Files fills a hole in the discourse around career writing. Occasionally, we must abandon the romanticization of the lonely writer scrawling longhand into a notebook, uninhibited by modern workloads. The episode “Busting the Myth of the Starving Artist” is an important conversation about writers having the right to live a healthy life. We do not have to die for our art, and The Writer Files is an important reminder.

Between the Covers

Between the Covers is a writing podcast with literary clout. Brought to us by the publisher and literary journal Tin House, the show is hosted by David Naimon, a softly-spoken modern sage who may or may not be the most knowledgeable person in the genre, though this fact has yet to be verified.

The show’s standing as a platform for diverse writers and sharp, reflective conversation makes it the perfect gateway drug for a first audio hit of high-brow literature. Even if you come for its reputation, you’ll stay for the show’s mini-series “Crafting with Ursula,” where writers discuss their craft alongside the work of science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin’s masterful world-building proves a perfect vessel for conversation on topics ranging from nature writing to the poetic form. Current and innovative, Between the Covers provides writers with an anchor to a world of its own making, an unapologetically literary world.

Working Drafts: A Writing Podcast

Novelist/humorist/coffee enthusiast Ted Fox (DATE WEEK, SCHOOLED) talks with other writers about their work—not so much the books they’ve published (although those definitely come up) but more what they’re writing right now, aka their works in progress, their working drafts, their open Word documents making them want to throw their computers out a window. Covering the good, the bad, and the daunting word counts, these are conversations about the craft of writing meant to be both fun and helpful. New episodes released each month on the 15th.

Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses is a punchy, fifteen-minute podcast that focuses on the craft behind creative writing. The success of the show is down to the dynamism of its presenters. Each one a working writer, the hosts represent a wide range of interests and genres, offering ideas on hundreds of writing topics.

Have you ever wondered how to use food as a creative device? Do you know how to write a character who is out of their depth? In many ways, Writing Excuses is delightfully old-school, yet it also reflects emerging and important trends in writing, such as gender, writing “the other,” and using sensitivity readers. Episode highlights include their recent live recorded shows, where the hosts’ cross-talk is funny and engaging; combined with the frequency of their episodes, Writing Excuses is a solid resource.

The Shit No One Tells You About Writing

Let’s talk about rejection. For the emerging writer, failure inevitably precedes publication. To continue writing is a feat of daily endurance not dissimilar to running a marathon wearing nothing but a loincloth that reads “desperate for industry acceptance” across one’s butt cheeks.

The answer, for those hungry for affirmation, might be a prestigious graduate program. But having a degree is by no means a guarantee for success. Plan B? Sorry to break the news, but the odds of winning a literary prize are very low. So what does a new writer do? This question, and plenty of others like it, are answered in The Shit No One Tells You About Writing, a podcast that provides a toolkit for writers seeking to understand a writing and publishing industry that is often impenetrable.

Host Bianca Marais knows exactly how to answer the tough questions; she’s a best-selling novelist herself. Alongside industry insiders, Marais never sugar coats the road to publication, instead offering useful and realistic advice that leaves writers with a better sense of the chaotic industry they’re determined to be a part of. The best part? Her co-hosts Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra critique two query letters in every episode, just in case you weren’t suffering enough.


A self-proclaimed “media autopsy,” this cult podcast by Christan Sager and Charlie Bennett was not overtly aimed at aspiring writers. The goal of Supercontext — which ran from 2016 to 2020 — was to understand why a book, television show, film or album was made, forgoing performing plot analysis or becoming a Cliffnotes hack-job to instead place media in its cultural context. Supercontext was a show that was hard to categorize, encompassing both mainstream and indie genres. Much like the podcast Philosophize This! (the similarity in tone and quality should also be noted), Supercontext relied almost exclusively on the support of its listeners who helped decide that topics became episodes. The podcast was a textbook example of how, as with writing, building a fanbase through authenticity is still achievable today. The show exemplified an important lesson for budding authors and screenwriters: how your writing is consumed will determine whether you can produce more.

The Critic and Her Publics

Critics are writers, too. In The Critic and Her Publics, a collaboration between The New York Review of Books and Literary Hub, Merve Emre speaks to the most prolific critics of our time. But there’s a twist: these guests must perform criticism on the spot about an object they’ve never seen before. It’s delightful, masochistic fun that most writers will enjoy.

There has been a recent resurgence in podcasts about criticism. The New Yorker recently launched Critics at Large, a weekly pop culutre podcast from the magazine’s most opinionated voices. While these shows will never match the trend towards big personalities espousing their thoughts as a personal branding exercise, it’s encouraging to see critics support each other in their powerful, yet often maligned profession.

The Plot Thickens

As the name suggests, The Plot Thickens is a writing podcast about craft. Specifically, it’s about the craft of writing crime fiction, possible the most complex of all genres. The show is hosted by bestselling author Elly Griffiths, a crime aficionado interested in everything from cozy crime to Scandi Noir. It helps that she has a voice straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.

In conversation with expert guests, Griffiths takes writers behind the scenes of writing a crime novel. If you want to challenge your plotting and develop your character writing, The Plot Thickens is has useful episodes like “Writing Female Investigators“. Take this as a sign to finally write that murder mystery.

Start With This

For fans of cult podcast Welcome to Night Vale, anything that comes out of the brain of Jeffrey Cranor is gold dust. The success of his fiction podcast has made Cranor’s thoughts on writing useful for aspiring authors — especially those who are struggling with writer’s block. Start With This is a podcast that doubles as a creative playground. Cranor’s goal is to spark new ideas in this listeners by exploring topics like world building, opening lines — and what to do when you fail.

Each episodes includes two short assignments, one to consume and one to create. Cranor encourages listeners to begin gradually, making these habits a sustainable part of their routine. Trying to write as a “sprint” risks burn out (but it doesn’t stop us doing it). In a world full of flashy advice, Start With This offers pragmatism. Just get started.


“Crossing a threshold” is an ambiguous phrase. It reminds us of vampires and reaching targets and even smashing ceilings. But for Jordan Kisner, the author of Thin Places, a threshold can mark a moment of transformation. She interviews artists and writers about their transformative experiences, unraveling how these life-changing moments changed their work and inspired new ideas.

For those interested in how personal revelation can impact writing will enjoy Thresholds. It’s full of essayists and poets — the sort of writers who thrive in MFA workshops. Their stories of surprises, crisis, failures and breakthroughs are authentic and inspiring.

The Institute of Black Imagination.

The Institute of Black Imagination. is a podcast with a clear agenda. It aims to elevate black voices in the arts, calling itself a “collection of iconoclasts” offering alternative visions of the world. The podcast is hosted by writer and artist Dario Calmese, the first African American to photograph the cover of Vanity Fair.

Calmese is a curious mind with plenty of ambition for his audio project. It’s refreshing to hear someone take the interview genre into a space where provocative ideas blend easily with beguiling production. Unlike many other niche writing podcasts, which often sound like little more than unedited Zoom calls, TIBI has a clear artistic vision and the production quality to back this up.

While the show employs a lot of labels, its strength comes from its fluidity. With an emphasis on radical art and thought, Calmese amplifies the voices of marginalized writers and marginalized ideas, engaging with a diverse range of perspectives. Courageous and timely, let Calmese and his guests inspire you beyond established boundaries.


Alice Florence Orr is a staff writer for Podcast Review and is based in Edinburgh. Her work has appeared in Scottish ReviewLike The Wind, and Nomad Journal. You can connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.