Speaking out shapes our ideas

I’m reading about the “marathons” that Natalie Goldberg and her group of writers used to run. During them, people read their work out loud. But, unlike in most writers’ groups, nobody would comment on the pieces.

If something somebody said sparked off a thought, this would be captured in writing, to be read later to the group. So no discussion, just letting people’s work inform yours. Of course, the session was structured in a way that allowed for this.

This way of working in a group strikes me as unusual – and very attractive. Sharing your work and feeling how it lands, sensing how you feel when you speak it out loud with others present, has value in itself. When I share a piece of work with someone in their presence, and even when I imagine sharing something with someone, I immediately see it with different eyes.

Person talking plus listeners equals ideas

Their thoughts and feedback also add help me see its possibilities, but often the act of sharing is enough for me.

There’s a connection here with podcasting.

During the past months, I’ve come to realise more and more what a great learning opportunity podcasting is. Not for the audience (although, that too), but for the people behind the microphone.

As host, I’ve often been aware of the many ideas that come from podcasting conversations. Even if we’re not broadcasting live, these conversations have an element of performance in them – and so ,the adrenaline cranks up and the lightbulbs go off. I’ve had realisations behind the microphone – not just in the company of co-hosts or guests, but also on my own. Maybe that’s why I continue podcasting: it helps me to think. And I love thinking, as much as I love talking!

Going further, guesting on a podcast also has value, beyond any output-driven goal like becoming a thought leader or selling something. I first realised this when talking to Michele Ong, who hosts a podcast where she interviews women in science. During our conversation, she mentioned that she felt some of her guests cherished the opportunity to talk solely about their work, for the joy of sharing it, without an agenda. Since then, I’ve become aware of the vital space that podcasting creates for guests, purely to share what’s on their mind, to enjoy that space where the only aim is to talk to another person about themselves, knowing that others will listen in the future.

I’ve had some guests saying things like, “I’ve never said this out loud before”, and I know that other hosts have had similar experiences. Even though you know others are listening, that it might spark ideas in them, and they might have something to say in the future, for now, the space is yours – just like in the “marathons” I was writing about earlier.

Writing and podcasting have so much in common – and I’m happy to continue to see where both lead me to.

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