Advice on Writing, Vol. 5: Grammar Girl Podcast

Monday, September 14, 2015

As Stephen King emphasized in his amazing book, if you want to be a writer, you need to read a lot and write a lot. But, sometimes, one must do other things. Take laundry, for example. Or dishes. It's nearly impossible to read or write while washing dishes! That's where listening comes in. And, although my go-to is audio books I've recently been exploring the world of podcasts, and found one I'm really excited about and wanted to share with fellow writers: Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing!

I highly recommend this podcast. Her episodes vary in length, but are relatively short—usually between 10 and 15 minutes, which I really enjoy. Even in such a short time, I always feel like I learn a lot!

She generally begins her episodes with "Quick and Dirty tips" where she answers sent-in grammar questions. For example, is it band together or ban together? When you're using and/or as a subject, should the verb be singular or plural? And so on. I enjoy this part because I feel it helps me improve both my writing and speaking. Sure, if you're writing a book an editor will likely catch grammatical errors—but isn't it nice to feel you know as much as an editor? And to feel more confident when speaking?

Often, episodes continue with "meaty middles" which generally delve into ways to improve your writing, like understanding parallelism or story structure. I particularly liked Episode 473 from July 9, "How Understanding Toy Story Can Help You Get Into College" which went into how most Disney/Pixar movies follow the same story structure. She used great examples!

Then, she generally ends with a fun language tidbit, usually about the origin of an idiom. For example, did you know the term "following suit" stems from card games?

Her podcasts are incredibly well-researched—she'll often read excerpts from books or speeches, and gather advice from linguists if she needs to. Overall, I love this podcast because it makes me feel smarter. If you are one of those lucky people who avoids doing laundry and dishes at all costs, it would be a fun thing to listen to while driving :) Check it out on iTunes or on the Podcast app on your iPhone!

Any other podcasts I should check out?

p.s. Advice on Writing Volumes one, two, three, and four.

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