Before the advent of podcasts, writers had to rely on books, gossip, newspapers, radios and other forms of media for inspiration. But even those were not enough. In our high-tech, fast paced world, it is even more difficult to focus on the things we need to spark off creativity.
Sometimes, the writer is either too tired or busy for books, radio or a simple walk to the neighbourhood bar.
Thankfully, podcasts have revolutionized our world. They have given us control over our lives. We can choose what to listen to and when. And we can do all these from the comfort and privacy of our phones. Wow! Getting story ideas has never been easier.
I will list the most inspirational podcasts for creative minds. Note that my list will feature only podcasts that read and discuss deep and complex real life stories. Some of these stories are so mind-blowing; the human brain couldn’t have spun them. I have omitted writing-related podcasts. I want writers to enjoy the stories for their versatility, depth and originality without worrying about the technicalities of the craft. Sometimes, all you need to write a good story is to enjoy one.
If you’re itching to bid writer’s block goodbye, read my unique list of the six most inspiring story podcasts every serious writer should subscribe to.
1. BBC Outlook
Believe me when I say that the BBC Outlook features the most extra-ordinary true stories from all around the world. From the bizarre, like the story about the baby who was buries alive to the funny like the tale of the highest paid Donald Trump impersonator, the BBC Outlook contains everything writers needs to engage their creative minds.
This podcast often uses the interview Q&A style. The conversation is often between the journalist and the survivor. It’s very engaging.
If you have been struggling with a writing project, this podcast can inspire you in more ways than you can imagine. In fact, one of the winners of the Outlook Inspirations Awards gave me an idea that helped me revise a story that I had been struggling to write for years.
Subscribe to the Outlook podcast and see if it works for you too.
2. Death In Ice Valley
If you are crime and mystery writer, then you will absolutely love Death In Ice Valley. Produced by the BBC and NRK (Norway’s public radio), this podcast unveils the life of a woman who died in 1970, under very mysterious circumstances. No one knew her name or her family or her origins. She travelled around with different passports and different identities. It’s an intriguing tale of deceit and secrecy.
Two journalists reinvestigated the case: NRK’s Marit Higraff and BBC’s Neil McCarthy. The goal was crack the mystery about surrounding the life and death of the “Isdal woman” as she has been labelled. Forty-eight years ago, she had been found dead with a mouth full of sleeping pills and a badly burned body in a remote mountainside near Bergen.
This podcast is one of the most popular true crime series in the world and hundreds of thousands of people joined the Facebook group to help the journalists crack the mystery.
If you need ideas for a crime or mystery story, Death in Ice Valley will give you a lot of ideas about red herrings, leads, dead ends, suspense and intrigue.
3. Modern Love
In the Modern Love podcast, a popular TV actor or actress is invited to select a story from the New York Times series. The celebrity then reads his/her favorite story in the podcast. In the end, the author gives a one-liner about how they were inspired to write the true story. The Modern Love editor also discloses why a particular story stood out for him and how.
Americans write most of the Modern love stories, but you’ll find that the stories are universal in theme and plot. You’ll also find stories set in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
I love the Modern Love essays not just for the beauty of the prose and language, but for their complex, yet universal themes. You can also send your own true-life stories about love, loss and redemption to the editor of the New York Times Modern Love column. If your story is accepted, you could earn $200. You can listen to the Modern Love podcast HERE.
4. The Talk With Vanessa
In this spanking new exciting podcast, OAP and counsellor, Vanessa Willie interviews people who are dealing with real life problems. This podcast is similar to the BBC Outlook podcast in both format and style.
But it is very sincere. It doesn’t try to confront only politically correct issues. And that’s refreshing. I like the soothing way in which it reveals very shocking truths. If you miss unapologetic confessions, then you want to subscribe to The Talk With Vanessa.
One of the most memorable for me is the episode about the woman who is stuck in a marriage with a closet gay man in a country where homosexuality is illegal and where divorcees are stigmatized. There is also another episode about a girl who was sexually molested by her religious father for six years. Listen to see how these survivors overcame (or are still trying to overcome their trials).
You can join the Facebook group and website so that you can get notifications whenever there is a new episode. The Talk With Vanessa is proudly sponsored by the big lifestyle blogger BellaNaija. Episodes are available on Soundcloud.
5. From Our Own Correspondents
You can add From Our Home Correspondents as well.
I love these news storytelling podcasts because the journalists bring a fresh new human angle to news stories. It’s intriguing to learn about the journalists experiences. What happens when they go to get the news? How do they feel about the victims of war? What do they learn from their firsthand encounters? Their creative non-fiction memoir-style essays address all these and more.
If you are just as curious as I am, you’d want to learn more about these journalists and their escapades. You will find scary stories like the one told by a journalist who found himself interviewing brutal kidnappers in Central America. There is also a funny (and dare I say, incredibly well-written) story of the journalist who went dancing in a Chinese ballet night dance club/school.
The stories in this podcast will teach you about imagery, theme, setting and perhaps, back-story. It helps to know how stories sound when read aloud. It’s a great way to learn about tone, pacing, structure and rhythm. To download these podcasts, click HERE. Or search for them anywhere you get podcasts.
6. TED Radio Hour
I am a big rosy fan of the TED conglomerate. I really am. In fact, I once wrote a post on the list of must-watch TED talks for writers.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep track of all the TED videos especially when you don’t have free Wifi. The TED Radio Hour simplifies these radio-adapted talks for your listening pleasure. The presenter, Guy Raz, chooses a theme and then compresses five or six related talks into one short show. It’s amazing how he does all that and even manages to squeeze in short interviews with the professionals who delivered the talk.
Some of my favorite episodes include: the meaning of work, the fountain of youth and becoming wise.
Speculative fiction writers will benefit from the fountain of youth. Two scientists discuss a revolutionized world where the human gene is being edited so that people live twice as long as we currently do. Imagine a world where people live till age 200 or more.
You can get more fascinating ideas from the TED radio hour podcast.s
How can one get these podcasts?
It depends on what kind of device you’re using. My Nokia Lumia phone has a Windows operating system, and this came with an installed podcast app. For some reason, Microsoft stopped supporting the app and I had to download Castcenter. Castcenter proved to be the best podcast app ever. I haven’t had cause to complain ever since.
If you use an iPhone 10, 9, 8 or lower, I’m sure you can find these podcasts in .your iTunes store. Android phone users might have a bit of a challenge getting their podcasts in one app (and I stand to be corrected). But I have tried to find reliable podcast apps for Android phones and failed. Please tell us know which ones work best in the comments section.
Do you have any favorite inspirational story podcasts? Please share them with us below in the comments section.
Photo Credit: Alice Moore on Unsplash