Saturday, April 5, 2014

How Podcasts Changed My Life

I'm going to level with you guys here. I'm the type of person that resists new technologies and fads... for the most part. Heck, I resist a lot that's outside my routine. I don't really care to watch a lot of new movies, because the old ones I've seen again and again are fine and still hold replay value for me. I tend to take exactly the same driving route to work/home/wherever, unless you can prove to me that a new one is better. I'm a very set in my ways type of person. I refused to get a cell phone until I absolutely did need one (in college, when I was organizing my senior music recital and needed to be able to get in touch with my performers without actually being in my dorm room). Even then, I only got the most basic flip phone. I fought Facebook for a long time and Twitter for even longer. I fought ereaders for years.

Basically, what I'm saying is that I am (infuriatingly) going to resist changing my routine until it's my idea. What's bad is that often, once I do change and try something, I find myself wondering why it took me so long. Still, true to my nature, when my friend Dave Robison (of The Roundtable Podcast fame) told me back at the end of 2010 that he was going to start a podcast for writers, I sort of took the information and set it aside. I wasn't into podcasts. At all. I hardly knew what one was. That is a serious regret.

It wasn't until I changed jobs at the end of 2012 that necessity bred change in me. I got a promotion to a job that allowed me to spend a good amount of my working time listening to my iPod, and despite my large music library, I found myself wanting more. But what else could I listen to? Over two years after Dave mentioned his podcast to me, I suddenly remembered it and actually figured out how to subscribe to a podcast in iTunes. I downloaded The Roundtable Podcast in its entirity and started to listen.

Oh, my GOD! Yet again, I had my "Where have you been all my life" reaction. I stormed through the podcast, learning names I'd never heard before, hearing ideas, and basically opening a whole new world of writing I hadn't known existed. Up until then, I was fumbling along on my own with writing, putting along and not really doing a ton. Sure, I'd already self-published Empeddigo and The Trials of Hallac by then, and Mere Acquaintances was up on the blog, but I really had no real plan or direction, and no networking presence.

The Roundtable Podcast opened the doors to Reader/Writer, I Should Be Writing, The Drabblecast,, The Every Photo Tells Podcast, and a lot more that I won't list here. It's been just over a year since I started listening to podcasts, and now I don't know where I'd be without them. I've had eight of my short stories podcast on Every Photo Tells. I've joined a Facebook gang of writers. I've expanded my blog, built my full website, and established a Twitter. I'm networking and have made a lot of contacts writing, even just saying hey to other authors and telling them I enjoyed their writing. I'm going to Balticon in May to actually meet some of these people in person. I've uncovered a startup small publishing company and submitted a few things to them (all rejected, but at least I had the cojones to put stuff out!). I've joined and am refining my reader/editor's eye. I have resources.I'm currently shopping a novel around, looking for nibbles.

And I'm working on starting a podcast of my own. That's right. Captain Resists Podcasts is starting up one.

What about my reading and writing? My To-Read list has gone off the charts. I'll never be able to read everything on my list, and that's not a bad thing. that I mentioned helps. There is a nice library of podcast books to listen to, so that helps. I also finally gave in and subscribed to Audible to get more audiobooks. I'm addicted. My wish list on Amazon of books for my kindle is always growing, and the books I already have on my kindle is slowly getting worked through.

I'm learning how to work smarter, how to critique, how to think, how to brainstorm with my amazing co-author (who I'm trying to talk into doing another guest post), how to think in a writerly way, and just generally how to be more productive and improve my work. I think it shows in what I'm turning out. I really do.

In general, I'm happier. I've joined a community of other people who cannot help but write, and they have welcomed me with great enthusiasm. Being a writer doesn't have to be a reclusive career/hobby/whatever. Holy cow are we social people. We send snippets of writing to each other, we beta read for one another, we bounce ideas off one another. None of us want to see the others fail. When someone sells a novel or a story, there's nothing but congratulations and wondering, "Who's next?"

I won't say that my writing career would never happen if I hadn't started listening to podcasts, but it certainly would have taken longer and involved a lot more fumbling. I'm still fumbling, mind you, but I'm not fumbling alone. I've got amazing resources in my coauthor and other writers, ones I've spoken to and those I haven't.

Here's the great thing: podcasts aren't limited to writing. If you're not familiar with podcasting, check things out. You can find podcasts on all sorts of topics. I've actually got one that's helping me with my German and a few history ones (that I'm using to help generate ideas and just generally educate myself). But they run the gamut of all sorts of topics. If you commute, travel, or just like to listen to your iPod (or whatever) while working, doing housework, cooking, walking, running, or anything, then explore what's out there. It's not there for nothing.

And who knows... it might just change your life.

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