The Writer Files

As many of you know, I spend a good amount of time listening to podcasts while on daily walks. Over the years, I’ve highlighted some writing podcasts, notably Writing Excuses and the Odyssey Writing Workshops. But these are oriented toward science fiction and fantasy writing.

Recently I discovered Kelton Reid’s The Writer Files, a podcast where he interviews a wide swath of authors on their writing methods. After spending the last few months going through much of its archives, I think this is a podcast I can definitely recommend checking out.

I would caution not to jump to any conclusions after one episode though. The quality can vary a lot. The first one I tried was pretty lackluster, which led to me bypassing the podcast for a while. Eventually I gave another episode a try, and it was much better.

Reid himself generally asks the same questions of every author he interviews, but the openness and cogency of the interviewed authors ranges from fairly closed and evasive, to providing a detailed description of their writing process, with most somewhere in between. Some authors have movie or TV deals and steer the conversation into name dropping gossip. Others I suspect are making stuff up. One or two I wondered about their mental health.

But when you hit a bestselling author who is open about their process, and a remarkable number are, it’s like striking gold. The overall sense you get from most of them is that it’s about showing up everyday and putting down words, the daily slog. Although down to earth craft advice comes out as well. Still having that basic advice confirmed by successful authors is inspirational, at least for me.

So if you’re an aspiring author, or even an existing one needing to hear how others do it, this podcast is worth checking out.

Have you listened to it? If so, what did you think? Any other writing podcasts you listen to and can recommend?

12 thoughts on “The Writer Files

    1. I found the ones with bestselling authors more fruitful than award winning ones.

      It might also be worth searching for any contemporary author whose methods you’d like to know more about. (I fished out the Andy Weir episodes early on.)

      Aside from that, it was the interview of S.A. Cosby (the part two, 7/22/21 episode) that got me interested in the podcast again. I’ve never read Cosby (I’m not into neo-noir), but he was open and frank about his writing process.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I often find myself interested in subjects dealt with by podcasts, but I pretty much never listen to them. I wish they came in written form. But I do very much enjoy hearing about different writing processes, especially when authors are willing to share real tips on craft. I find it astonishing how many are not. I suspect either they don’t want to ‘give it away’ out of fear it might cheapen what they’ve accomplished or they don’t really know what it is they do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, if I didn’t need something to listen to while walking I’m not sure how much I’d listen to podcasts myself. Some do publish transcripts on their web page, but they’re often machine generated and not great reading, except to verify something you think you heard.

      A couple of the authors interviewed actually admitted that they’re not sure how they do it. (Andy Weir worried whether he’d be able to repeat it.) I suspect that, along with some embarrassment about not understanding their own process, is what makes many authors reluctant to discuss it. Robert Heinlein once observed that he was reluctant to take any writing classes, because he worried it might make him realize how wrong he was doing it and mess up his ability to continue. It seems like there’s a lot of that in the writing world.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Walking and listening at the same time! I’d sort of forgotten about that. Truth is, as much as I’d love to get some “reading” done while walking, there are just too many hazards around here. I have to be paying attention for Geordie’s sake. Coyotes, snakes, bobcats, dogs on the loose…but mostly people who don’t know how to drive. I know I sound like a ninny, but just the other day someone ran into our mailbox, and that would be a difficult thing to do coming from the direction they were coming from.

        I can sort of understand not wanting to take writing classes because it might screw up what you have going, though it never occurred to me to worry about that with writing. I have worried about taking music lessons out of fear I would come to hate playing guitar once I learned ‘the right way’. Luckily, writing teachers generally aren’t sticklers about following a certain process, at least not in the way music teachers can be.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The biggest issue I’ve had with walking and listening isn’t being too distracted by what I’m listening to to notice any issues around me, but having my mind wander and realizing I haven’t heard anything that was said for the last several minutes. Listening at 1.5 times the regular playback speed seems to help. (It helps with Youtube videos too.) Although I have to periodically remind myself that I’ve sped it up, because everyone sounds hyperactive and obnoxious at 1.5x.

          I once took free golfing lessons, which, never having played golf before, turned out to be a mistake. The instructor was relentless in making sure we learned the proper ways to swing a club. It drained every bit of fun out of it and made the whole thing utterly unappealing. One of my friends later said I should have gone to the golf course and had fun goofing around first, and only then taken the lessons. As things stand, I’ve never taken up golf.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I didn’t even realize you could change the playback speed. That would make it a bit more like a reading pace, I would think, so long as everyone’s still understandable.

            Golf, huh? My father was an avid golfer and he tried to get me into it as a kid, even going so far as to buy me a set of mini golf clubs, but I was astoundingly terrible. I mean I couldn’t even hit the ball, but I could send a large chunk of earth flying. I much preferred driving the golf cart.

            Did the instructor tell you to hold the club with the index finger of your left hand intertwined with the pinky of your right? That feels so weird to me.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. 1.5x is about the limit I find understandable. On the podcast app I use, I push it to 1.75x, but I suspect that app’s normal rate is a bit slow, so it comes out to around 1.5x. And 1.5x is right on the edge of comprehension for Youtube videos. I’ve tried 2x and just couldn’t follow it. Even 1.5x takes some getting used to, but once you do it is easier to stay focused on it. Usually.

            I do have some friends who are avid golfers. These guys go golfing on the hottest and coldest days. They once went when it was 35F and drizzling, the kind of weather I’m not keen to do anything in.

            My cousin and I once visited a driving range (can’t recall if it was before or after the free course thing) where I thought I was quite impressive in the size of ground chunks I could send flying and how far they went. The balls, not so much.

            The thing about the intertwined fingers and pinky sounds very familiar, although we’re talking 30 years ago, so it’s all pretty hazy. What I remember most was you were supposed to hold your back straight and rigid, and swing with your whole body. And they had this circular thing, sort of like a hula hoop held vertically on a stand, you were supposed to learn to swing in while having the club head follow the circle. I quickly learned to hate that thing. I only went for a couple of lessons before bailing.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. My father and brothers were the same about golf. It’s a rite of passage for some. I was perfectly happy driving the cart and keeping score. Although I did once come pretty close to driving it into a pond. I remember my dad running after the cart, but I have no idea what I was thinking in that moment, or why I was incapable of hitting the brakes.

            I think I know what you mean by the hula hoop. My dad actually had a video made of him hitting golf balls so that he could study his swing. Not terribly entertaining as videos go!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike,

    I’ve not been on-line all that much of late. Seems like the demands of daily life have ebbed and flowed a lot of late. At any rate, I appreciated this link, listened to a podcast and will look forward to more in the future. The first one I selected, mostly random, was Nickolas Butler, and I ended up grabbing one of his books. The one he discussed in the podcast (Godspeed) is only available as hardback right now, and that’s not a book format I purchase these days…

    The process of writing… so much to be said!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michael. Glad you’re finding it useful. I had to look up Butler’s entry again: the modern western guy! I listened to so many of these, they all blur together now.

      Definitely, writing itself is its own deep rabbit hole!


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