I ask as somebody who loves Writing Excuses (https://writingexcuses.com), and relies on the podcast heavily as an educational resource. My writing ambitions are well aligned with their stated scope -- "mainstream commercial creative writing" and, mostly, fantasy and science fiction as genres. I also have a fundamental agreement with the podcasters on underlying philosophical issues, such as the nature of creativity.

Nevertheless, I wonder whether I may be missing out on alternative points of view on creative writing, or whether there are points on which one could seriously disagree with the podcast's positions, which I'm not aware of.

  • Transcripts of their episodes are here. These might help someone unfamiliar with the podcast to quickly check opinions against theirs. – J.G. Apr 15 '19 at 15:21
  • I think this question is too broad; and pretty much amounts to asking for a critique of Writing Excuses and their premise. Perhaps you can narrow this to a question we can answer without having to read through dozens of transcripts searching for something we disagree with. I also don't believe philosophical questions on "the nature of creativity" are on topic here; this isn't a philosophy stack. I'm voting to close. – Amadeus Apr 15 '19 at 15:36
  • @Amadeus I guess you're right, at least to the extent that the question could have been better phrased... But the answer by @ icanfathom, below, is exactly what I was looking for, so he got what I was trying to say : ) ...Although of course I do still wonder whether there are different takes on this. [Also, I would never expect people to go through the Writing Excuses material in order to answer this question. I'm just guessing many people already know it well, and can immediately answer] – sesquipedalias Apr 15 '19 at 18:31
  • @sesquipedalias On reflection, the link is more useful to those who know the podcast well but want to double-check some details. – J.G. Apr 15 '19 at 20:21

I'm a fellow Writing Excuses lover. I discovered their podcast somewhere during Season 11 and then decided to backtrack and listen to everything that came before. I've listened to literally hundreds of episodes, probably averaging 4 a week for the last couple of years.

I've found so much good advice, and I believe it's an incredible resource. But they are shy on certain kinds of content.

Their strength: the mechanics of writing.

Their weakness: writing books with meaning.

Writing Excuses can teach you a lot about how to craft a plot, fill it with interesting characters, interweave subplots, convey emotions, create suspense or wonder or humor. They guide you to creating good entertainment, but not necessarily lasting art.

And like you said, their focus is on mainstream, commercial writing, so that's okay. But there is a certain level of depth that will be missing if you never think about things like theme or meaning. Other writers have covered these topics well, so we know it's not impossible. It's just something that Writing Excuses isn't particularly suited for.

(This could easily become a totally subjective point. In saying that they don't cover how to write with meaning, I'm comparing them to other sources like K.M. Weiland's site. She emphasizes theme above all else, and by comparison, Writing Excuses is rather slack.)


I love writing excuses and highly recommend listening. It has great tips, great advice, and a peak into the world of professional writing for those of us that haven't quite made it there yet.

But, it is what it is, a 20 minute weekly podcast. This isn't nearly enough time to cover any topic in great detail. They are very strict on keeping to their time limit and end up leaving some thoughts undeveloped. The episodes are more like a starting point. A place to pause, consider what I could add or adjust to my writing, then do a little follow up research.

I think the greatest strength of writing excuses is the discussion format. There are a gazillion books about how to write, but when you read a book, or an article, you only get one person's point of view. You can read more books by different people, but listening to authors talk with each other, sharing different experiences and writing strategies adds a whole new level of learning.

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