Hosted by seasoned writer/podcaster Mur Lafferty and fellow writer Matt Wallace, Ditch Diggers offers a different approach to most writing podcasts. Lafferty’s other podcast, I Should Be Writing, is focused on the craft of writing, while Ditch Diggers is all about the business side, from the practicalities of trying to get published to how you find the determination to sit down and write day after day.
Ditch Diggers is named after the show’s guiding philosophy - that people who dig ditches can’t afford to get ditch digger’s block, as they need to keep doing their job, and the same applies to professional writers. Listeners are encouraged to approach writing like professionals, getting to the keyboard day after day, working through the moments of discouragement and demotivation.
This isn’t a show that pulls its punches. The Guidance is often of the “tough love” variety, providing realism rather than reassurance. Wallace in particular tends to play the bad cop role, and the advice is sometimes seasoned with a healthy dose of swearing.
The show benefits from Lafferty and Wallace’s extensive range of professional contacts, featuring a wide range of guests with experience in both big publishing and self-publishing. The advice is oriented towards science fiction and fantasy writers, but much of it has relevance across the board. The ditch digging philosophy, in particular, is useful for anyone looking to make their mark.
Though the insights into the nature of publishing can be disillusioning, Ditch Diggers isn’t a dispiriting listen. The lesson is never “writing is tough so give up”. Rather, it’s that writing is tough and so you need to put in the effort to succeed. Regular encouragement from a pair of professionals who treat their audience as mature and ready to face the challenges can be a good source of both motivation and inspiration.
Should You Listen?
This isn’t a show for beginner writers just starting to learn the craft. If that’s where you’re at, then Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing offers a gentler approach and more craft-oriented guidance. But for those looking to turn their creativity into a profession, Ditch Diggers is an invaluable source of guidance and roughly delivered encouragement.
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