Ditch Diggers

  Andrew Knighton    May 29, 2018
Ditch Diggers

Level: Advanced

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.


  • Insights into the reality of publishing that will help authors prepare for the struggles involved.
    Ideas about how to market both a book and an author brand, based on the real and ongoing experiences of the hosts and their guests.
    A question and answer section at the end of the show, which tackles questions sent in by listeners. It’s a chance to get feedback on the specific issues that concern you. Given the nature of the audience, the questions sent in by others are likely to be relevant for anyone trying to get their writing to market. A focus on the science fiction and fantasy side of publishing means that the show is full of useful and specific insights for writers in those genres.

Should You Listen?


  • Both the hosts are seasoned professionals, whose experience is reflected in the wisdom they share.
    Regular guests from across the genre publishing industry provide a variety of insights from people in the know.
    The warts and all take on publishing gives a realistic assessment of how the business works and how to achieve more inside it. The relaxed, conversational tone draws listeners in and makes writing and publishing feel like achievable things.


  • Over several years of podcasting, the show has built up some in jokes, which can make it seem confusing and a little daunting, particularly during the introduction.
    The rambling, conversational format can mean a lot of listening time to extract a few nuggets of wisdom. The focus on science fiction and fantasy means that some of the advice and insights, as well as the examples discussed, aren’t relevant for those writing in other genres. Whether that’s a con of course depends upon what you write.

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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