Writing Podcast of the Week

The 10 Minute Writers Workshop is one of my favorite podcasts about writing. Episodes are consistently good, and at 10 minutes in length, you aren’t committing to a huge investment of time. Each week, the host interviews a writer. There is usually enough good conversation in an episode to get you in the headspace of writing, and they are often inspiring enough to get me to dive into my writing or editing.

This week I listened to an episode of 10 Minute Writers Workshop featuring Alice Dreger. I’ve saved this episode on my hard drive and have probably heard it 5 or 6 times. It’s that good. By now, I’ve taken enough notes while listening to this short interview to have very nearly transcribed or paraphrased the whole thing. I can’t recommend this podcast episode enough. Here are some thoughts, quotes, and takeaways for your consideration:

Alice Dreger – author of the recent Galileo’s Middle Finger

She was a professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University. I love how this part of her career seems to inform her writing and her sensibilities. I studied Narrative Medicine and Medical Humanities a bit in grad school and feel a kindredness to this work that blends narrative and the field of medicine.


Schedule downtime. Even more so than “up-time” – writing time. If you do, you’ll actually rest during downtime more fully.

Use a piece of music – play the same music over and over when you are working on a piece. Then, if you become distracted from your writing, you can return to it more readily if you put on that music again it helps your mind to get right back into that narrative.

Writing books Alice Dreger recommends:

  • The Forest for the Trees – Betsy Learner
  • And, probably my favorite recommendation for a book on writing, ever: Winnie the Pooh:

“Personally, I really love the Winnie the Pooh stories as a way to think about writing. In the Winnie the Pooh stories you get almost every character you encounter in real life and so it really helps me as a writer to figure out how to treat the different characters in the world humanely. Everybody in Winnie the Pooh has a character flaw, and yet, A. A. Milne treats them all with such delicacy. I really love the way he shows you how to treat people well… There is one funny (Pooh) story that begins: ‘Rabbit and Piglet were sitting outside Pooh’s house listening to Rabbit.'”

Treat the characters of your world with caring

Think more about “What does the reader need from me?” rather than what I want to get across, or the story I have to tell, the lecture I have to give.

Advice to young writers: Write what you know – if you take this advice seriously, you’ll find yourself being brave in the world – if you go purposefully out into the world of your life, you will experience more difficulty and joy. If you are open to it, you’ll bring more to your writing.

“The book writes you… That’s a really interesting way to experience the world. That’s something that writers get to do. It’s a level of pleasure that very few people get to experience.”


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