Four years ago, She Writes Press publisher Brooke Warner sat down in a Berkeley, California, restaurant with Grant Faulkner, executive director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and made plans to launch a podcast that would encourage writers at any stage of their career. “We wanted our themes to range from learning to believe in your story and get it down on the page to how to publish,” Faulkner explains. “We view writing and publishing as different stages of a creative journey.”
He’d been impressed with Warner’s Green-Light Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing, with its message of empowerment, so when she suggested that he co-host, he immediately agreed. “That’s what we’re all about at NaNoWriMo as well – empowering people and helping them put their voice and their story in the world,” he says.
Their weekly podcast, Write-minded, offers insight into the joys and challenges of literary life. Sometimes, the hosts mention upcoming literary workshops and other relevant events, both remote and in-person. Sometimes, they spend a few minutes bantering about topics like writing and parenting or publishing trends or the importance of curiosity in a writer’s life. Each episode includes an interview with an author or publishing industry professional.
“We pick a guest, and then we ask ourselves what theme the episode will explore based on that writer,” Warner explains. Past themes include “Allowing Anger to Fuel Your Writing” (November 1, 2021), “Using Storytelling to Inform and Educate” (September 20, 2021), and “The Joy and Angst of a Newly Released Book” (July 26, 2021). “We invite writers from diverse backgrounds, with all kinds of experiences,” Warner says.
What you’ll learn
Charlie Jane Anders is the author of Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories. In her guest episode of Write-minded titled “The Difficult Balance of Writing and Self-Care” (October 11, 2021), she talks about how to remain vulnerable in the middle of personal and/or global crisis and how to move through feelings of depletion to continue down the creative path.
“She really dug into this topic because of the pandemic,” Faulkner explains. “She spoke about why writing is important when the world feels really against you in a deep and terrifying way, and it was particularly relevant to people who feel shut down by trauma.”
New York Times bestselling author Kwame Mbalia speaks about “Why Retelling Stories is Always an Act of Creation” (November 15, 2021), giving listeners insights into how to live with one’s characters as well as who inspires him as an author. The author of the middle-grade novel Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, Mbalia talks about participating in National Novel Writing Month four years in a row.
“My process is leashed chaos simply because I have children, and children demand attention,” he says and goes on to describe how he writes 50 to 200 words several times throughout the day between parenting obligations. “When the kids are finally in bed…I sit and look at what I’ve done, and I have anywhere between seven hundred and a thousand words, and I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve written!’” he exclaims.
In one episode of Write-minded, novelist and television writer Shanthi Sekaran talks about “Migration as an Essential Shared Story” (November 29, 2021) and asks writers to think about their own migration experiences – as immigrants or as members of a family that has occupied the same space over generations. Another episode features Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (February 20, 2021), who talks about how she’s used the #Bookstagram hashtag on Instagram to let readers know about her book and how to be intentional about writing in order to focus on the projects that most move you.
“My collection came about because I got stuck on a novel, and so I pivoted [to short stories],” she says. To writers who believe they don’t have enough time to write, she suggests looking at how they’re spending their free half-hours. “We have time; it’s just how we choose to use it,” she explains.
Join the mission
Warner wants each episode of Write-minded to offer a moment of revelation for listeners. “I always come back to our tagline, which is ‘inspiration for authors,” she says.
The mission of the podcast ties in with Faulkner’s and Warner’s personal missions, as well as the missions of the organizations they represent. “We want to help people tell their story,” Faulkner explains. “We’re not selling an empty dream. We’re not trying to tell people that they’ll write a bestseller and earn a lot of money and be famous. It’s more about identifying the story that matters to them and being bold enough to tell it. That is the real gift.”
Subscribe to Write-minded wherever you get your podcasts or listen at podcast.shewrites.com and sign up for email alerts about new episodes. Interested in being a guest on Write-minded? Email Brooke Warner and Grant Faulkner at [email protected].
—Melissa Hart is the author, most recently, of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens. Twitter/Instagram: @WildMelissaHart.