The creative process is endlessly fascinating, especially if you’re trying to invoke the muse yourself. Every artist works differently, and every piece of creative work – from a toddler’s finger-painting to a great composer’s symphony – emerges from a mix of unpredictability and process.
Julia Cameron, the creativity guru and author of the phenomenal bestselling self-help book The Artist’s Way, goes so far as to call creativity ‘God’. Cameron talks about creative recovery as a spiritual journey, though she does allow that if you can’t stomach ‘God’ you can also call it ‘Good Orderly Direction’!
A podcast exists for almost every art form and obscure creative niche, but there’s a special category of podcasts that concerns the creative process itself, across all mediums, and encourages listeners to find ways of expanding and refining their own creativity.
Blurb: Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert’s hit podcast Magic Lessons helps aspiring artists overcome their fears and create more joyfully. Guest experts include Neil Gaiman, Gary Shteyngart, Amy Purdy, Michael Ian Black, Brandon Stanton, Martha Beck, Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown and Anne Patchett.
Why we love it: Whether you adore or deplore Eat, Pray, Love, there’s no denying author Elizabeth Gilbert has walked the walk, and taken the risks of an artist’s life. (She’s also written many other books.) Her warmth, generosity and eloquence are truly inspiring and she has a lovely speaking voice. Sadly, there are only 21 episodes of this 2016 podcast where Gilbert coaches a blocked creative and brings in other experts to offer advice.
Read more: Arts podcasts we’ve escaped to in 2021
Blurb: Conversations about the daily rhythms and inevitable stumbles in life, work and creative. Routines & Ruts is about the days we find flow, and the days we go completely off track. As an extension of Extraordinary Routines, this podcast delves further into this idea that creativity isn’t just something we do, but how we approach our lives.
Why we love it: Writer and interviewer Madeleine Dore has turned her fascination with creative routines into a popular blog and the book I Didn’t Do the Thing Today. Over three seasons, she delves into creative fears and blocks, supportive routines and the importance of courage and patience in building a creative life. Guests include writer and activist Sarah Wilson, psychotherapist and author Hilary Jacobs Hendel, folk singer and performer Lucy Folk and dancer Vanessa Marian Varghese. Routines & Ruts is a gentle and supportive podcast that will help to silence that mean inner critic that stops you from even trying.
Blurb: How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. Every week, a new interviewee explores what their failures taught them about how to succeed better.
Why we love it: With so much focus on success and triumph, it’s refreshing and instructive to hear famous people discussing their failures. Recent highlights include interviews with Margaret Atwood, Bernie Sanders and Rick Astley. My own favourites include Caitlin Moran talking about parenting failures, body image and big vaginas; and Jarvis Cocker on his academic, dating and acting failures.
Blurb: Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer’s bow. It’s become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference. Akimbo‘s a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what’s happening and choosing to do something.
Why we love it: Seth Godin is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and change agent. He blogs daily and his 20 books include Tribes and The Practice, which is all about ‘shipping’ – or delivering – creative work. This podcast will help you think differently about what you make and how to put it out into the world. Marketing is not a dirty word when it’s done with integrity, as Godin shows. (Godin’s altMBA leadership course has many fans and alumni, including Australian screen producer Kirsty Stark.)
Blurb: Novelist and author of the popular book The Writer’s Room, Charlotte Wood continues her in-depth conversations about the creative process. She talks to writers and other artists about how they work, what keeps them going, and the joys and challenges of making art.
Why we love it: There are just nine episodes of this high-quality chat about the creative process. Episodes include a mini-masterclass with author Joan Silber on character, point of view and narrative time in fiction; painter Jude Rae talking about her process and the way visual arts and written arts can be aligned; and actor Heather Mitchell explaining how she finds and inhabits a character on the stage or screen.
Read more: Best film and TV podcasts in Australia
Blurb: Insightful stories and actionable strategies. A weekly podcast companion for your creative career, hosted by illustrator and public speaker Andy J Pizza.
Why we like it: This regular podcast is practical as well as preachy and hyperbolic. Andy J Pizza’s gravelly delivery and emphatic American drawl may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s full of great advice about overcoming creative problems and maintaining equilibrium in the bruising arena of making art for a living.
Blurb: Which books have shaped minds and changed lives? 2 Pages with MBS is where brilliant people read the best two pages of a favourite book … a book that’s shaped them and changed them. Listen as authors, leaders, activists, academics, entrepreneurs, change agents and celebrities dig into the ideas that matter the most.
Why we love it: Australian Michael Bungay Stanier (MBS) is one of the world’s leading coaches and motivational speakers, but he has a human-centred and very humble approach. He’s always learning and always curious. While this podcast isn’t strictly about creativity, it will seed creative ideas.