The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, And Neuroscience


Kelton Reid studies the habits, habitats, and brains of a wide spectrum of renowned writers to learn their secrets of productivity and creativity. Tune in each week to learn how great writers keep the ink flowing, the cursor moving, and avoid block. Explore our archives at to find interviews with notable guests that include bestselling authors John Scalzi (Old Man's War), Greg Iles (Natchez Burning), Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City), Kevin Kelly (founder of WIRED magazine), Emma Donoghue (Oscar Nominee for Room), Maria Konnikova (The Confidence Game), Andy Weir (The Martian), Dan Buettner (The Blue Zones), Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist), Daniel Pink (When), and serial guest hosts: neuroscientist Michael Grybko, journalist Adam Skolnick, and short story writer Robert Bruce.


  • How Award-Winning Debut Novelist Bryan Washington Writes

    How Award-Winning Debut Novelist Bryan Washington Writes

    29/11/2020 Duração: 30min

    #PodcastersForJustice New York Times Notable author, Bryan Washington, dropped by to chat about how his short stories garnered so much acclaim, what cuisine tells us about the larger narrative around sharing a meal, and why writers need to ignore the publishing marketplace. "A reading itself can feel more akin to a set list. You adjust your set list based on the context in which you're performing. I think of the reading ... as being interconnected with the text, but its own singular entity." — Bryan Washington The author published the award-winning story collection Lot in 2019 which garnered him – to name only a few – a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honor, the Dylan Thomas Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, numerous best-of-the-year lists, and one of President Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2019. His debut novel is Memorial, and it too earned a NY Times notable spot, a Good Morning America Book Club Pick, and was named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, TIME, O, the Oprah Magazine, Esquire, Ha

  • How NY Times Bestselling Mystery Writer Tana French Writes

    How NY Times Bestselling Mystery Writer Tana French Writes

    04/11/2020 Duração: 28min

    #PodcastersForJustice The New York Times bestselling crime novelist, Tana French, took a break to talk with me about her early training as an actress, her definition of creativity, and how to write through the tough times. "I didn't know if I could write a book. I'd written short stories and really galactically bad teenager poetry, but I'd never tried to write a book before." — Tana French The author has written eight mystery novels and is considered a master of suspense and the modern psychological thriller. Her work has been compared to writers including James Ellroy and Donna Tartt, and has been called "incandescent" by Stephen King, and "absolutely mesmerizing" by Gillian Flynn. Her novels have sold over three million copies and won numerous awards, including the Edgar and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. Her latest bestseller, The Searcher, is her second stand-alone novel, and she was described by The Washington Post

  • How NY Times Bestselling Novelist Ace Atkins Writes

    How NY Times Bestselling Novelist Ace Atkins Writes

    21/10/2020 Duração: 31min

    #PodcastersForJustice The New York Times bestselling Southern crime writer, Ace Atkins, took a minute to talk with me about his superhero origins as a journalist, the complicated, dark history of the American South, and the challenge and thrill of changing POVs in the novel. "Make sure you're picking [your genre and subject] for the right reason, that you're picking something that's your personal obsession. When you do that you're never really working, you're really just having fun." — Ace Atkins The author has written 26 books, including ten in his country noir, Quinn Colson series, and eight bestselling novels in the continuation of Robert B. Parker’s iconic Spenser series. He has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction, including the Edgar three times. HBO recently optioned his Quinn Colson novels for a series that's currently in development and Ace's second novel for the Robert B. Parker estate, Wonderland, was made into the film "Spenser Confidential" starring Mark Wahlberg and directed

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Laurell K. Hamilton Writes

    How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Laurell K. Hamilton Writes

    09/10/2020 Duração: 29min

    #PodcastersForJustice The #1 New York Times bestselling author of paranormal fiction, Laurell K. Hamilton, took a break to talk with me about why her first fantasy novel nearly tanked her career, some of the systems that go into her world-building, and why writers need to stay off the internet and protect their writing time. "I am very much a believer that if my characters have a better idea then that's magic. They've become alive enough to argue with me, to have an opionion. And I don't squash my own magic." — Laurell K. Hamilton The trailblazing, genre-bending author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, and the Merry Gentry series, is considered an influential pioneer to the urban-fantasy genre. Laurell has sold more than 20 million books worldwide. The 27th novel in her wildly popular Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series is Sucker Punch, a mash-up of her signature blend of mystery, magic, horror, and romance. Fellow #1 New York Times bestselling author, Charlaine Harris, said of the author, "Hamilto

  • How to Live to 100 with Science Journalist Marta Zaraska

    How to Live to 100 with Science Journalist Marta Zaraska

    02/10/2020 Duração: 32min

    #PodcastersForJustice The lauded science journalist and author, Marta Zaraska, spoke with me about the impacts of loneliness on your health, why we need to think about aging earlier, and how smartphones ruin relationships. "Too much concentration on our smartphones is definitely damaging our health. The reason for that is that it tends to damage our relationships ." — Marta Zaraska Marta is the author of two non-fiction books (including Meathooked and Growing Young) two literary novels, and has contributed to two travel books published by National Geographic. Her latest book is Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100, and is "A smart, research-driven case for why optimism, kindness, and strong social networks will help us live to 100." Bestselling author Adam Grant said of the book, "If you care about the length and quality of your life but can’t stomach yet another diet or workout routine, this book is for you." Marta has been published in the Washington Post, Scienti

  • How to Hyperfocus with Productivity Expert Chris Bailey

    How to 'Hyperfocus' with Productivity Expert Chris Bailey

    23/09/2020 Duração: 40min

    #PodcastersForJustice The internationally bestselling author of The Productivity Project and Hyperfocus, Chris Bailey, took the time to chat with me about tricks for focusing on what matters most, and how writers can cultivate more calm and creativity through uncertain times. "Tolkien said, 'Not all those who wander are lost.' I would argue that the exact same thing is true for our attention." — Chris Bailey Fresh out of college Chris took a full year off to study productivity. He posted his experiments to his popular blog, A Life of Productivity, which went on to become the international bestseller, The Productivity Project. His latest book is Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction, "A practical guide to managing your attention--the most powerful resource you have to get stuff done, [and be] more creative." Chris’s TEDx talk – How to Get Your Brain to Focus – on the subject of Hyperfocus has received over 5.4 million views. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done said of th

  • How NY Times Bestselling Thriller Author Shari Lapena Writes

    How NY Times Bestselling Thriller Author Shari Lapena Writes

    14/09/2020 Duração: 24min

    #PodcastersForJustice The internationally bestselling author of "domestic suspense" thrillers, Shari Lapena, took a few minutes to chat with me about her circuitous path to success, how she subverts the idea of the perfect "white picket fence" family, and her unique process as a novelist. "I always just start with an idea and write chronologically all the way through to the end. I don't have a plan, but as I go along, ideas present's all very organic" — Shari Lapena She's the author of popular "suburban paranoia" thrillers – including The Couple Next Door and Someone We Know – and multiple New York Times and The Sunday Times (London) bestsellers. The Couple Next Door was an international breakout and New York Times bestseller for an astounding 23 consecutive weeks. Her books have been sold in 37 countries and sold more than seven million copies worldwide. Her latest is The End of Her, a book that "... will have readers questioning their spouse’s past and their own judgment as well." #1 NY

  • How Bestselling Hugo-Nominated Author Robert Jackson Bennett Writes

    How Bestselling Hugo-Nominated Author Robert Jackson Bennett Writes

    07/09/2020 Duração: 45min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning speculative fiction and fantasy novelist, Robert Jackson Bennett, chatted with me about turning genre conventions upside down, how he incorporates critiques on modern society into his writing, and why truth is stranger than fiction. He's the Hugo-nominated author of a handful of critically acclaimed novels including The Divine Cities trilogy and The Founders Trilogy. He has received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Phillip K. Dick Citation of Excellence, and he has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Locus Awards. Bennett posited the idea of "industrialized magic" in book one of his Founders Trilogy, Foundryside (a Time, Paste, Vulture, and The Verge “Best Fantasy Books of 2018” pick). His second installment in that series is Shorefall, which Kirkus Review called, "Tolkien meets AI .... neatly blending technology, philosophy, and fantasy ... An expertly spun yarn by one of the best fantasy writers on the scene today." Please help

  • How the Screenwriter of Netflixs Project Power Mattson Tomlin Writes

    How the Screenwriter of Netflix's 'Project Power' Mattson Tomlin Writes

    18/08/2020 Duração: 31min

    #PodcastersForJustice In-demand screenwriter and director, Mattson Tomlin, took a minute to rap with me about debuting a film during a pandemic, what it takes to break into Hollywood, and how he was brought on to co-write The Batman with Matt Reeves. "Every script is an opportunity to change your life. Every script is an investment in yourself."—Mattson Tomlin Mattson rose to prominence in 2017 after a bidding war for his original screenplay that became the Netflix film, Project Power, starring Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and breakout Dominique Fishback. Hollywood Reporter describes the film as an "... action-packed tale that tackles themes [like] government control and the exploitation of marginalized communities." Tomlin recently gained attention for being brought on board to co-write The Batman with Matt Reeves; the reboot will star Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, and Jeffrey Wright among others. He is writing a film adaption of the video game character Mega Man for 20th Century Studios and sold a

  • How Award-Winning Crime Novelist S. A. Cosby Writes

    How Award-Winning Crime Novelist S. A. Cosby Writes

    11/08/2020 Duração: 40min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning, neo-noir novelist and short story writer, S. A. Cosby, took time to speak with me about his pulp fiction influences, the hard work that went into his 10-year overnight success, and the cinematic timbre of his writing voice. "Writing is like telling yourself a joke for nine months ... and hoping that everybody else gets the punchline."—S. A. Cosby S.A. Cosby's short story, "The Grass Beneath My Feet," won an Anthony Award for Best Short Story, 2019, and his short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. His latest, Blacktop Wasteland, is a reinvention of the noir genre described as "...Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist ... [the] story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime.” Already an Amazon bestseller, the book has received extraordinary trade coverage -- starred reviews, a cover with ALA Booklist, an interview at Publishers Weekly -- and has a bevy of early supporters including legends o

  • How Bestselling Legal Thriller Author Marcia Clark Writes

    How Bestselling Legal Thriller Author Marcia Clark Writes

    04/08/2020 Duração: 41min

    #PodcastersForJustice #1 NY Times bestselling author and famed criminal lawyer, Marcia Clark, dropped by to chat about the perils of celebrity, how she got her start as a TV producer, and the highs and lows of the writing process. *This is another double-episode, with a surprise (12-year-old) debut author you won't want to miss. "It's no big surprise that Marcia Clark knows her way around a courtroom and a murder mystery—but she's also a terrific writer and storyteller."—James Patterson Marcia has been a practicing criminal lawyer since 1979 – she joined the LA District Attorney's office in '81 – and served as a prosecutor for the high-profile trials of Robert Bardo (convicted of killing actress Rebecca Schaeffer), and most notably, O. J. Simpson. She co-wrote the #1 New York Times bestseller Without a Doubt, which chronicled her work on the Simpson trial. Marcia writes the bestselling crime fiction series centered on a morally ambiguous criminal defense attorney, Samantha Brinkman. Her latest is the concl

  • The State of Travel Writing Roundtable with Award-Winning Journalist Adam Skolnick

    The 'State of Travel Writing' Roundtable with Award-Winning Journalist Adam Skolnick

    22/07/2020 Duração: 01h17min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning international journalist, author, and serial pundit, Adam Skolnick, co-hosted our pandemic edition "state of travel writing" roundtable with several like-minded travel junkies. Adam is an award-winning independent journalist and author covering adventure sports, environmental issues, travel, and human rights for The New York Times, Outside, Playboy, and many others. He recently began a co-hosting gig on The Rich Roll Podcast. He’s traveled to over 50 countries, worked on six continents, and contributed to over 35 Lonely Planet travel guides. He is also the author of One Breath: Freediving, Death and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits, and was the ghostwriter and narrator of David Goggins’ hit memoir and audiobook Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, which has sold over two million copies and counting worldwide. MaSovaida Morgan is a travel journalist whose wayfaring tendencies have taken her to more than 50 countries across all seven continents. As a Lonely Pl

  • How Emmy-Winning Showrunner of The Handmaid’s Tale Bruce Miller Writes

    How Emmy-Winning Showrunner of 'The Handmaid’s Tale' Bruce Miller Writes

    30/06/2020 Duração: 39min

    #PodcastersForJustice The creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the award-winning TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, Bruce Miller, spoke with me about his storied career as a TV writer/producer, what it's like to work with author Margaret Atwood, and adapting a modern classic for the small screen. The Emmy award-winning TV writer and producer has worked on dozens of shows and movies (including Medium, Eureka, Alphas, and The 100), and got his start working on NBC's long-running hit ER in the early '90s. Miller's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's prescient, critically acclaimed 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale – considered by many to be a modern classic of dystopian literature – is a drama about a "... totalitarian society [that] subjects fertile women, called 'Handmaids,' into child-bearing slavery." In its first season, the show won multiple Emmy awards – including Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for Miller – and became the first on a streaming platform to win an Emmy for Outstanding Series (beatin

  • How Its Always Sunny... and Mythic Quest Co-Creator and Star Rob McElhenney Writes

    How 'It's Always Sunny...' and 'Mythic Quest' Co-Creator and Star Rob McElhenney Writes

    12/06/2020 Duração: 35min

    #PodcastersForJustice The writer, producer, and actor – best known for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and recent hit Apple TV+ show Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet – Rob McElhenney took a timeout at the apocalypse to rap with me about how he runs his writer's room, his humble beginnings and admiration for the great TV comedies, and advice for aspiring TV producers. "Everyone is going through the same things. At least, people that respect science are. That sense of loneliness and despair ... needs to be addressed in some way, but ultimately we want to leave people with a sense of optimism." – Rob McElhenney FX recently renewed his irreverent "It’s Always Sunny..." for a 15th season, making it officially the longest-running live-action sitcom in US history. The multihyphenate's latest, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, is a comedy series "...that follows a team of video game developers as they navigate the challenges of running a popular video game," The Apple TV+ show was co-created with "Sunny" alums Charlie D

  • How Bestselling Novelist Aris Janigian Writes

    How Bestselling Novelist Aris Janigian Writes

    02/06/2020 Duração: 51min

    #PodcastersForJustice The bestselling, award-winning novelist, Aris Janigian, had a candid conversation with me about the recently "mandated dystopia," his circuitous path to bestselling author, the city as muse, and what it means to be a transgressive writer. “As a cognitive social psychologist, I can tell you without any hesitation that the human mind really is built for deception.” – Aris Janigian The author of six novels (all without traditional representation), critics hailed his 2012 novel This Angelic Land – set during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots – as "today's necessary book," and his novel Waiting for Lipchitz at Chateau Marmont, spent 17 weeks on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Janigian holds a PhD in psychology from the Claremont Graduate School and was formerly Senior Professor of Humanities at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He was a finalist for Stanford University's William Saroyan Fiction Prize and has been a contributing writer to West, the Los Angeles Times Sunday

  • How to Write Commercial Fiction with NY Times Bestselling Author Jeffery Deaver

    How to Write Commercial Fiction with NY Times Bestselling Author Jeffery Deaver

    27/05/2020 Duração: 31min

    The internationally bestselling author of over 35 novels, Jeffery Deaver, took a few minutes to discuss his advice on how to write emotionally engaging fiction, the merits of plotters vs. pantsers, and a 5-step process for writing your novel. "Rejection is just a speed bump ... it's not a brick wall. Keep at it." – Jeffery Deaver Jeffery is a former journalist, musician, and attorney best know for his Lincoln Rhyme series – now a hit NBC TV show – and the novel, The Bone Collector, adapted for the big screen starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. The "master of suspense" has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards and gone on to sell 50 million books worldwide, translated into 35 languages. His latest thriller is a sequel to The Never Game – The Goodbye Man (A Colter Shaw Novel Book 2) – and once again features Colter Shaw, a rugged survivalist and "reward-seeker." One of Bookpage's "Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers" of 2020, Publishers Weekly said of the book, “Deaver balances suspense and p

  • Productivity Secrets from NY Times Bestselling Author John Zeratsky

    Productivity Secrets from NY Times Bestselling Author John Zeratsky

    21/05/2020 Duração: 46min

    New York Times bestselling author and productivity expert, John Zeratsky, made time to chat with me about his mission to help you improve your focus, find greater meaning in your work, and get more out of each day. “All of the old structures and routines are gone.... When we have a schedule for ourselves ... that becomes scaffolding we can stand on, we're free to focus.” — John Zeratsky John studied journalism in college and has spent over 15 years as a designer for tech companies like YouTube and Google. He was also Google Ventures's in-house copywriter, editor, and content strategist. At Google Ventures, he helped develop the design sprint process and worked with close to 200 startups, including Uber, Slack, 23andMe, and Nest. As a result he co-authored the bestseller Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days – written with fellow "Time Dork" Jake Knapp. But they're by no means run-of-the-mill productivity experts, as you'll soon hear. Their latest collaboration is Make Time:

  • How NY Times Bestselling Author James Swallow Writes

    How NY Times Bestselling Author James Swallow Writes

    14/05/2020 Duração: 50min

    Award-winning New York Times, Sunday Times, and Amazon #1 bestselling author, James Swallow, spoke with me about his superhero origin story, how he found success channeling his own anger, and the most important lessons he's learned along the way. "I try to make the details as authentic as I possibly can ... because a lot of the action in my books is 'heightened reality.'" – James Swallow James is a former journalist and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nominated scriptwriter who has written for video games, TV, and radio. The prolific author of over 50 books – who has written sci-fi for storied franchises including Star Trek, Dr. Who, and Stargate – is best known for his espionage thrillers. His Marc Dane series – with over 750,000 books in print worldwide – includes novels Nomad, Exile, Ghost, Shadow, and his forthcoming novel Rogue, the fifth in the bestselling series featuring "Britain's answer to Jason Bourne," out May 28th (from Zaffre Books). Please help us learn more about you by

  • How to Publish Your First Novel with Acclaimed Author Abbigail N. Rosewood

    How to Publish Your First Novel with Acclaimed Author Abbigail N. Rosewood

    06/05/2020 Duração: 36min

    Award-winning writer and debut novelist, Abbigail N. Rosewood, joined me to discuss the roller coaster of emotions first-time authors face, how she overcame rejection and uncertainty, and her advice to aspiring scribes on how to rise above the noise. "Seeking representation didn't prepare me well for what was to come..." – Abbigail N. Rosewood Abbigail was born in Vietnam and lived there until the age of 12, so it's no surprise that she tapped into her past as a well for her fiction. After a false start in International Business, she earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University where she studied with famed fictionist Gary Shteyngart. Her lauded debut novel, If I Had Two Lives, has been described as "... [The] story [of] a young woman from her childhood in Vietnam to her life as an immigrant in the United States – and the necessary return to her homeland." The Los Angeles Review of Books called it, “... a tale of staggering artistry,” and The New Yorker said "...the novel poignantly conjures t

  • Earth Day Special with Editor-in-Chief Simmons Buntin

    Earth Day Special with Editor-in-Chief Simmons Buntin

    22/04/2020 Duração: 35min

    Editor-in-Chief of, Simmons Buntin, helped me celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by discussing why we need strong writing voices now more than ever, how to deal with the current "infodemic" of misinformation, and resources for starting your own revolution. “The voices in this essential anthology are anything but silent. Indeed, they are voices of hope, habitat, defiance, and, most importantly, democracy. Lend your ears, and then your own voice.” — Simmons Buntin Simmons has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the CU, Denver, and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona, so it's no surprise that he found the intersection of "... the built and natural environments [something he calls] 'the soul of place'." As the editor-in-chief of, a nonprofit literary magazine that explores just that, he publishes works that examine how our environment influences us in profound ways. He's also the co-editor of a new collection titled Dear America: Letters

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