title

Start With This

Night Vale Presents

250
Followers
326
Plays
Start With This

Start With This

Night Vale Presents

250
Followers
326
Plays
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About Us

The creators of Welcome to Night Vale Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink believe the only bad writing is not writing. Start With This is a podcast gone creativity playground designed to put your ideas in motion. Each episode centers around a writing topic. Then they give listeners two short assignments: something to consume and something to create. Make something—anything. Then make something else.

Latest Episodes

Outlining

Outlining your story is like a puzzle for plot. In this episode, we talk about how mapping out what will happen before you start writing gives your story shape, and makes it much easier to write. This way, you can land a satisfying ending and give focus to your process to free your brain up for new discoveries. Consume: Listen to The Shadows, a six-episode podcast series by Kaitlin Prest. Create: Write a six section outline with a max word count of 60 words for each section. Give your project a beginning, middle, and end. Have the character’s growth matches the plot, and that the ending is set up by the structure. The goal is to figure out what happens within each section. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Theme written and performed by Joseph Fink. If you'd like your own cover of the theme song featured on this show, email us at startwiththis@nightvalepresents.com or share it in our membership community. Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

27 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Outlining

Slowness

We talk a lot about creating with enough speed to turn writing into habit, but working slowly puts the finish line so far out of sight that you can focus on something other than the final outcome. Slowness is a way to make something big by allowing you to break your writing down into manageable parts, and gives you enough space to enjoy the process. It also means you can work a little bit on something everyday, even if you don’t know what it is yet. ** **Consume: The Taxonomy of Air, a visual art piece by Susan D’Amato Create: Every day for one week, set aside the time to write three sentences. For the first four days, just get those sentences out and don't think about the bigger picture. On day five, start thinking about where the piece is going. For the last three days, bring the piece to an end. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis Help spread the word about our show by wearing...

29 MIN2019 NOV 29
Comments
Slowness

Repetition

Your writing needs a message. The way you deliver this message is up to you. Repetition is one way to get this message across. There’s almost a magic power in centering on a message, spiraling outward, and circling back to the message again and again. In this episode, we talk about using repetition to review an idea, create rhythm, reinforce comprehension, drive emphasis, and to disorient. Consume: Song Exploder Episode 28: The Long Winters - The Commander Thinks Aloud Create: Come up with a 3-10 word phrase. Now write a 200-word story and use your exact phrase at least 5 times. Concentrate on each iteration’s meaning, and how the repetition of the phrase affects your story. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & ...

28 MIN2019 NOV 15
Comments
Repetition

Word Count

In writing, words are your currency. So how can you maximize your spending on a budget? In this episode, we talk about how word counts can break up longer projects into achievable goals, are a form of accountability in your own process, and influence how your audience perceives your work. Plus, we discuss how knowing your own voice will help you decide how many words you want to dedicate to describing something in great detail or with great efficiency. Consume: Geoff Ryman’s novel 253. Learn more about it on Wikipedia and access it on Archive.org Create: Use a random number generator to generate ten numbers between 1-100. These ten numbers are now your word counts for each section of a ten paragraph writing piece. Follow the counts exactly and pay attention to how the word counts impact the pacing and flow. For added difficulty, find a way to let the word count influence the content of the story. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with ...

29 MIN2019 NOV 1
Comments
Word Count

Speed

Working quickly means you can create faster than your doubt. In this episode, we talk about how using speed as a writing technique can be freeing and helpful. From setting timers to making word counts, writing without pausing allows you to simply get your ideas out now for you to shape later. Consume: Listen to the album, “All Hail West Texas” by The Mountain Goats Create: Set a timer for 7 minutes and write without stopping on the topic “Orange.” Then put your work aside for at least a day. After a day or two, set a timer for 23 minutes to edit and refine your piece. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Jose...

27 MIN2019 OCT 18
Comments
Speed

Stereo

Stereo is a powerful, audio-specific tool that can fill out a sound in the same way that we experience sound in the world. We talk about how using stereo wisely can invite your listener’s imagination to get involved by differentiating speaking voices, putting them in a specific setting, and by creating weird or unexpected moments. Consume: Listen Nickel Creek’s album, “A Dotted Line” Create: Record a 1-minute audio piece that uses stereo in at least two different ways: to differentiate speaking voices, to put the listener in a specific space or setting, and to subvert the listener’s expectations or play a game with the listener. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us...

24 MIN2019 OCT 4
Comments
Stereo

Punching it Up

There will always be something to improve about your writing, but you can’t revise forever. We talk about developing processes so you know what to improve, how to improve it, and when to finish punching up your piece. Consume: Read “The Lifespan of a Fact” by Jim Fingal and John D'Agata Create: Write 100 words of a story, incorporating a randomly generated phrase into the first sentence. Use another random phrase in your next 100 words. Finally, use one last random phrase in the last sentence of your story. Now go through and punch up your 200 word story, deleting those generated phrases and replacing them with words of your own. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us ...

30 MIN2019 SEP 20
Comments
Punching it Up

Anxiety

Have you ever had a big deadline and all of a sudden you have to listen to that new audiobook? In this episode, we talk about how anxiety about your writing can lead to moments like this. Then we discuss ways to motivate yourself from steering into the skid, to doing achievable tasks, as well as how taking care of your body and mind affects your creative work. Consume: Listen to Mark Can’t Rap with British poet Mark Grist Create: Set a calendar alert for 5 days in a row to spend 10 mins writing non-stop. Each day, write about a different body part. At the end of the 5 days, put each of the sections together and look at the experimental novel you’ve created. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Theme written by Joseph Fink. Currently performed by listener Mike Lynch. If you'd like your own cover of the theme song featured on this show, email us at startwiththis@nightvalepresents.com or share it in our membership community. Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

35 MIN2019 SEP 6
Comments
Anxiety

I Have an Idea for a Podcast

The heart of a good podcast isn’t in expensive mics or a nice studio— it’s in the idea. We talk through four litmus tests to test the strength of your idea: specificity, novelty, practicality, and repeatability. Honing in on these elements will help you uncover what’s exciting about your idea, and what will make it successful. While this episode focuses on podcasting, these tests are good to consider for any artistic idea. Consume: Listen to The Worst Idea of All Time and think about how it’s specific, novel, practical, and repeatable. Create:Take a podcast (or any artistic idea) idea you have and walk through the four litmus tests. Specificity: Write the one sentence elevator pitch for your podcast. Novelty: Write one sentence about what makes your podcast different. Repeatability: Write one to two sentences to describe what Episode 40 would sound like, or what the arc of your limited series would be. Practicality: Make a list of equipment, people, and how much time you’ll need for each episode Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Theme written by Joseph Fink. Currently performed by listener Mike Lynch. If you'd like your own cover of the theme song featured on this show, email us at startwiththis@nightvalepresents.com or share it in our membership community. Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

37 MIN2019 AUG 23
Comments
I Have an Idea for a Podcast

Q&A #2 Preview

Here’s a short preview of our second members-only bonus Q&A episode. To hear the whole thing and to ask your own follow-up questions, join our community: http://patreon.com/startwiththis Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

5 MIN2019 AUG 16
Comments
Q&A #2 Preview

Latest Episodes

Outlining

Outlining your story is like a puzzle for plot. In this episode, we talk about how mapping out what will happen before you start writing gives your story shape, and makes it much easier to write. This way, you can land a satisfying ending and give focus to your process to free your brain up for new discoveries. Consume: Listen to The Shadows, a six-episode podcast series by Kaitlin Prest. Create: Write a six section outline with a max word count of 60 words for each section. Give your project a beginning, middle, and end. Have the character’s growth matches the plot, and that the ending is set up by the structure. The goal is to figure out what happens within each section. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Theme written and performed by Joseph Fink. If you'd like your own cover of the theme song featured on this show, email us at startwiththis@nightvalepresents.com or share it in our membership community. Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

27 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Outlining

Slowness

We talk a lot about creating with enough speed to turn writing into habit, but working slowly puts the finish line so far out of sight that you can focus on something other than the final outcome. Slowness is a way to make something big by allowing you to break your writing down into manageable parts, and gives you enough space to enjoy the process. It also means you can work a little bit on something everyday, even if you don’t know what it is yet. ** **Consume: The Taxonomy of Air, a visual art piece by Susan D’Amato Create: Every day for one week, set aside the time to write three sentences. For the first four days, just get those sentences out and don't think about the bigger picture. On day five, start thinking about where the piece is going. For the last three days, bring the piece to an end. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis Help spread the word about our show by wearing...

29 MIN2019 NOV 29
Comments
Slowness

Repetition

Your writing needs a message. The way you deliver this message is up to you. Repetition is one way to get this message across. There’s almost a magic power in centering on a message, spiraling outward, and circling back to the message again and again. In this episode, we talk about using repetition to review an idea, create rhythm, reinforce comprehension, drive emphasis, and to disorient. Consume: Song Exploder Episode 28: The Long Winters - The Commander Thinks Aloud Create: Come up with a 3-10 word phrase. Now write a 200-word story and use your exact phrase at least 5 times. Concentrate on each iteration’s meaning, and how the repetition of the phrase affects your story. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & ...

28 MIN2019 NOV 15
Comments
Repetition

Word Count

In writing, words are your currency. So how can you maximize your spending on a budget? In this episode, we talk about how word counts can break up longer projects into achievable goals, are a form of accountability in your own process, and influence how your audience perceives your work. Plus, we discuss how knowing your own voice will help you decide how many words you want to dedicate to describing something in great detail or with great efficiency. Consume: Geoff Ryman’s novel 253. Learn more about it on Wikipedia and access it on Archive.org Create: Use a random number generator to generate ten numbers between 1-100. These ten numbers are now your word counts for each section of a ten paragraph writing piece. Follow the counts exactly and pay attention to how the word counts impact the pacing and flow. For added difficulty, find a way to let the word count influence the content of the story. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with ...

29 MIN2019 NOV 1
Comments
Word Count

Speed

Working quickly means you can create faster than your doubt. In this episode, we talk about how using speed as a writing technique can be freeing and helpful. From setting timers to making word counts, writing without pausing allows you to simply get your ideas out now for you to shape later. Consume: Listen to the album, “All Hail West Texas” by The Mountain Goats Create: Set a timer for 7 minutes and write without stopping on the topic “Orange.” Then put your work aside for at least a day. After a day or two, set a timer for 23 minutes to edit and refine your piece. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Jose...

27 MIN2019 OCT 18
Comments
Speed

Stereo

Stereo is a powerful, audio-specific tool that can fill out a sound in the same way that we experience sound in the world. We talk about how using stereo wisely can invite your listener’s imagination to get involved by differentiating speaking voices, putting them in a specific setting, and by creating weird or unexpected moments. Consume: Listen Nickel Creek’s album, “A Dotted Line” Create: Record a 1-minute audio piece that uses stereo in at least two different ways: to differentiate speaking voices, to put the listener in a specific space or setting, and to subvert the listener’s expectations or play a game with the listener. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us...

24 MIN2019 OCT 4
Comments
Stereo

Punching it Up

There will always be something to improve about your writing, but you can’t revise forever. We talk about developing processes so you know what to improve, how to improve it, and when to finish punching up your piece. Consume: Read “The Lifespan of a Fact” by Jim Fingal and John D'Agata Create: Write 100 words of a story, incorporating a randomly generated phrase into the first sentence. Use another random phrase in your next 100 words. Finally, use one last random phrase in the last sentence of your story. Now go through and punch up your 200 word story, deleting those generated phrases and replacing them with words of your own. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us ...

30 MIN2019 SEP 20
Comments
Punching it Up

Anxiety

Have you ever had a big deadline and all of a sudden you have to listen to that new audiobook? In this episode, we talk about how anxiety about your writing can lead to moments like this. Then we discuss ways to motivate yourself from steering into the skid, to doing achievable tasks, as well as how taking care of your body and mind affects your creative work. Consume: Listen to Mark Can’t Rap with British poet Mark Grist Create: Set a calendar alert for 5 days in a row to spend 10 mins writing non-stop. Each day, write about a different body part. At the end of the 5 days, put each of the sections together and look at the experimental novel you’ve created. Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Theme written by Joseph Fink. Currently performed by listener Mike Lynch. If you'd like your own cover of the theme song featured on this show, email us at startwiththis@nightvalepresents.com or share it in our membership community. Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

35 MIN2019 SEP 6
Comments
Anxiety

I Have an Idea for a Podcast

The heart of a good podcast isn’t in expensive mics or a nice studio— it’s in the idea. We talk through four litmus tests to test the strength of your idea: specificity, novelty, practicality, and repeatability. Honing in on these elements will help you uncover what’s exciting about your idea, and what will make it successful. While this episode focuses on podcasting, these tests are good to consider for any artistic idea. Consume: Listen to The Worst Idea of All Time and think about how it’s specific, novel, practical, and repeatable. Create:Take a podcast (or any artistic idea) idea you have and walk through the four litmus tests. Specificity: Write the one sentence elevator pitch for your podcast. Novelty: Write one sentence about what makes your podcast different. Repeatability: Write one to two sentences to describe what Episode 40 would sound like, or what the arc of your limited series would be. Practicality: Make a list of equipment, people, and how much time you’ll need for each episode Join the SWT Membership community to share your work, give feedback, and connect with other artists: https://www.patreon.com/startwiththis See Start With This live in Boston on October 20. Tickets on sale now: http://startwiththispodcast.com Help spread the word about our show by wearing our logo: https://topatoco.com/collections/startwiththis Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Theme written by Joseph Fink. Currently performed by listener Mike Lynch. If you'd like your own cover of the theme song featured on this show, email us at startwiththis@nightvalepresents.com or share it in our membership community. Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

37 MIN2019 AUG 23
Comments
I Have an Idea for a Podcast

Q&A #2 Preview

Here’s a short preview of our second members-only bonus Q&A episode. To hear the whole thing and to ask your own follow-up questions, join our community: http://patreon.com/startwiththis Credits: Jeffrey Cranor (host) & Joseph Fink (host), Julia Melfi (producer), Grant Stewart (editor), Vincent Cacchione (mixer). Rob Wilson (logo). Produced by Night Vale Presents. http://www.startwiththispodcast.com http://www.nightvalepresents.com

5 MIN2019 AUG 16
Comments
Q&A #2 Preview
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