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  • Writer's pictureAshley Christiano

5 Things I Learned from Podcasts this week

February 28th, 2020 Edition

For the longest time, I resisted the podcast craze. I prefer audiobooks, I told myself. And I’ve got those reading goals, I reminded myself. But then I decided to dip my toe in. They’re all the rage from a marketing perspective, so it was easy to see how it might make me better at my job to get closer to this exploding medium. So I started with some writing podcasts, listening to authors talk about their process and their craft and giving an aspiring writer like myself writing advice. Then I delved into the spiritual podcasts, podcasts on voodoo, podcasts on chakras, podcasts on history…and before you knew it, I was out of control, my downloaded podcast list backed up. I’m only caught up through mid-December!

And as I listened I learned. And when I learn something, I feel the need to share. Sorry, Jay. You’ve heard a lot of random facts. But now I’ve decided to share even further, and spare you the role of being my audience of one.

This past week found me wandering the brightly colored streets of Tybee Island and the cobblestone lanes of Savannah, Georgia. I drank beer, I ate (too much) Southern food, I took shelter from the rain with a guided trolley ride through the historic district. And I also listened to a plethora of podcasts as I walked down the beach or sat in a park or sipped a chai latte.

I listened. And I learned. So without further ado, here are 5 things I learned from podcasts this week.

  1. DIY MFA Radio: Reading outside of your favorite genre — or the genre in which you like to write — makes you a better writer. That might seems obvious, but I thought the explanation behind this was insightful: if you read too much of the same thing, you bring nothing fresh to your own writing (or illustrations). Reading widely helps you become the unique little snowflake of a writer you need to be create something original, to avoid your work being called the dreaded “derivative.” This felt particularly good to me since I’d just finished a non-fiction book (Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow) and a sci-fi book (Nighftall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverburg). I was already taking her advice!

  2. Unobscured: The entire season of this podcast — the history of the Spiritualist moment in the 1800s — has totally blown me away and inspired a future creative project of my own that I’m already starting to research more. But one fact that rocked my boots was that Sojourner Truth lived in Battle Creek, MI for a part of her life! That’s not too far from where I'm from, and I must have known this when I was a kid and learning about Michigan history. But still. When you grow up in the middle of nowhere, it’s always nice to hear that history was made not too far from where you were born.

  3. Unobscured: I told you, I adore this podcast season of Unobscured. Another fun fact? Victoria Woodhull, legendary spiritualist and Women’s Rights activist, actually ran for president in the 1870s! Talk about a brave woman. I'm super fascinated by the parallels between her time and don't be surprised if you here more fun facts about Spiritualists and the women who created a movement.

  4. Therapy for Black Girls: I originally started listening to this podcast because I want to be more aware of my own privilege, am just, in general, trying to do better, and because a character in my current manuscript is black and I want to write her experience responsibly. But an episode I listened to about making friends as an adult had some really great advice - backed by a ton of research. Being vulnerable and risking rejection are two main ingredients in making friends. You can’t just hope you make a friend organically - research actually showed that people who just let friendships happen were less happy 5 years later than people who put real effort into making friends. Part of that effort is sharing more than surface-level information with people…but you can share too much, too fast. Finding the balance of being real and being too real too soon is tough. But people who overshare tend to be seen as insecure and desperate, and instant turn-off for your potential new bestie.

  5. Insight Timer Social Anxiety Course: This isn’t technically a podcast, but it feels like one. I’ve been taking this for practical advice on how to deal with social anxiety. Similar to the learning above about being vulnerable, this episode talked about how much people appreciate people who don’t hide their imperfections. Imperfections are what make us real, approachable, and relatable. The quest for perfection is basically a symptom of anxiety. So if you feel the need to look perfect before you leave the house, double-check every email for spelling errors, second-guess sharing an idea at a meeting, or make sure every conversation you’re a part of never suffers from too long an awkward silence, you too may suffer from social anxiety.

Thanks for sticking with me and my eclectic list of facts! I’m hoping to do this weekly, but knowing my schedule and a wide variety of distractions, it may be a bit more irregular than that.

Have your own favorite podcast you think I'd like? Follow me on Instagram and let me know!



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