Listen Up! My Secret Solution To Stealing Creative Time…

How do you make the most of every minute you have?

Soon I’ll be blogging about how to squeeze every moment you can out of your writing day, but today I’m going to share one of my top secret tips.

When it comes to making the most of the time you have, nothing beats audio. You can listen to the new must-read story while you go for a run, soak up a lecture on craft while you’re doing the grocery shopping, or grab some inspiration while you’re driving to work or school.

For me, audio is all about reclaiming time you’d otherwise lose. Here are my top choices!

For craft: The Odyssey Writing Workshop is a six week intensive workshop for writers of fantasy, science fiction and horror—but the lectures are for everyone. Each month a new free podcast is released—they’re usually 20 – 30 minutes in length, and feature a highly experienced author, editor or literary agent serving up some wisdom on an aspect of writing. The length means they’re perfect for squeezing in when you’re on the go. A few of my favourites are Melissa Scott on World Building, and Terry Bisson on Setting. For more, search ‘odyssey writing workshop’ on iTunes.

For inspiration: Where do the sparks of ideas for stories come from? If you’re searching for inspiration and a treasure trove of stories you’d never have dreamed existed, look no further than the free and fabulous Stuff You Missed In History Class. In a gorgeously conversational style that makes you feel like you’re hearing the story from your two best friends, the presenters deliver podcasts ranging from 10 – 30 minutes on the stories you never learned at school. There is so much inspiration to be found here! Ever wondered how Stanley came to say “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” or who the real Bluebeard was? You’re in the right place.

A few of my favourites are “Little Queen for President” (about the first female candidate for the US presidency, back in 1872!), “The Tussaud Test of Popularity” (who really was Madame Tussaud, and why did she have such terrible taste in men?) and “Who Was The Mistress of Murder Hill?” (you’ll have to listen to find out!). They also do great features around women’s history, black history month, and lots of other occasions. You’re guaranteed to find a gem that will spark an idea! To download, search ‘stuff you missed in history class’ on iTunes.

For leisure: Do you watch an endless succession of must-read books fly by, and wonder how there’s time to read them all? Are you scared your To-Be-Read pile is going to topple in the night and bury you? Time to consider audiobooks. With the right narrator, a story can come to life, and just as importantly, you’re much less likely to crash your car listening to a book than trying to read one. (Added bonus: I’ve found that telling myself I can only listen to a fantastic book if I’m exercising or doing housework means I’m both fit and productive!) My all time favorite audiobook is Nathaniel Parker’s reading of Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. He does all the voices.

What’s your favourite podcast, or your favorite audiobook? I’d love to add to my collection!

14 Responses to Listen Up! My Secret Solution To Stealing Creative Time…

  1. Julie May 8 2012 at 6:04 am #

    Great post! I listen to audiobooks during my looooonnnnggg commute to and from my day job. It definitely keeps that TBR pile under control. I will make sure I check out the audiobook of ARTEMIS FOWL! 🙂

    • Amie Kaufman May 9 2012 at 5:45 am #

      I hope you do, I think you’ll love it! For three years I had to commute an hour and a half each way to university–my carpool buddy and I luckily shared the same taste in books, and we were very well read by the end of it!

  2. Alexa May 8 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Thanks for those two great links Amie! I’ll definitely check them out. I loved THE DEMON’S LEXICON Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan on audio. My must listen podcasts are Simon Mayo and Mark Kamode’s film reviews on BBB Five Live, Books on the Nightstand (on itunes). I’m also loving Sara Zarr’s Creative Life Podcasts.

    • Amie Kaufman May 9 2012 at 5:50 am #

      Oooh! I have been trying to find time to read Demon’s Lexicon for ages (I even have the books!), but perhaps the audio is the trick. Thank you! Great podcast list as well — I’ve just recently discovered Sara Zarr’s as well!

  3. Sooz May 8 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Great post!! I love audiobooks and podcasts, but I’d kind of forgotten about them in recent years. Back when I was in science and doing tons of labwork, I liked nothing more than a rich fantasy audiobook! My absolute favorites are hands down JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL and THE GOLDEN COMPASS.

    Thanks for reminding me of this great way to “read”!!

    • April Tucholke May 8 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      Sooz, you stole my answer. J. Strange. Simon Prebble’s voice is smoother than butter on butter–I’ve listened to this 1000 page thing 3 times on audio. His voice for the Gentleman with the thistledown-hair is just…genius.

      Yep, I did the Golden Compass on audio, too. Bril. And I have to give a shout out to Katherine Kellgren and the Jacky Faber books here, too–Katherine cries, sings bawdy songs, screams, does several accents…her narration is a thing of beauty.

      • Sooz May 8 2012 at 7:46 pm #

        DUDE. ME TOO. THREE TIMES HAVE I LISTENED TO JONATHAN STRANGE. His voice for the Man with the Thistle Down Hair just makes me SO HAPPY.

      • Amie Kaufman May 9 2012 at 6:11 am #

        Oh wow, really? I have been trying to read this for AGES, but… 1,000 pages. That’s a lot of reading time! I am trying the audio version. I love me a buttery-voiced narrator.

        • April Tucholke May 9 2012 at 12:53 pm #

          Amie, I’m begging you to do J. Strange on audio. It will change your life, and I mean that literally. Susanna Clarke’s dry humor, her dark world building, the way she uses magic (complex and wicked and frustrating), her evil characters, phrases like “I know magicians and I know magic and I say this: all magicians lie and this one more than most” or “to be more precise it was the color of heartache”–combine this with Simon Prebble’s narration…I’m telling you. The second I finish, I want to start it over.

    • Amie Kaufman May 9 2012 at 5:56 am #

      There’s something about it, a tell-me-a-story vibe, that I just adore, especially when you’ve got someone who reads the story just the way you think it should be read. I should have mentioned Stephen Frye, and Harry Potter!

  4. Crystal May 8 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Looking up the craft lectures now! Thanks for the tip 🙂

    • Amie Kaufman May 9 2012 at 6:13 am #

      No worries — hope you love them as much as I do!

  5. Vanessa Di Gregorio May 10 2012 at 7:42 am #

    I’ve been meaning to pick up audio books – because I’m on the road A LOT! All those hours in my car could be spent listening to a great book! Thanks Amie 🙂

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