Things I Learned Podcasting

Hapax-the-Podcast finishes next Sunday. Considering that it’s been over a year since I started my podcasting journey, it seems like a good time to pause and reflect on the things I’ve learned on the other side of the mic.

Think you’re speaking slowly? Yeah. Go slower.

This was my main pitfall, and the reason I had to redo the narration while releasing episodes. I speak quickly in day-to-day life. Plus, with my general excitability and the remnants of an early childhood speech problem, my speech isn’t always the most clear (I reckon this is why I tend towards cold anger—once I’m agitated, my “r’s” turn back into “w’s,” and it kind of defeats the purpose).

All of which to say that narrating was the hardest part of the process for me. Not only did I have to really, really watch my enunciation, I had to keep pace firmly in mind. The best piece of advice I heard was, “Go slowly enough that you sound stupid to your own ears.”

I did. I sounded stupid. But on the playback, it sounded just about right. I know I still have more work to do—but I know I’m much better than a year ago.

Part of the dream: a “podcaster’s” voice.

Podcasters have distinct voices, but there tends to be a subtle difference between their “podcasting” voice, and their everyday speaking voice. Listening to recordings taken at various points over the last year, I’m maybe-just-kind-of starting to hear my own “podcasting voice” develop, particularly in the latter half of the story. I think it’s a bit like voice changes in adolescence: you can’t really force it, but it will grow in with time and practice.

When I read my tribute at my father’s funeral, there were some podcast listeners in the church who later told me how unnerving it was to hear that voice, in that context.

As awful as it was, hearing that gives me hope. I’ll probably sound like I’m twelve for a few more decades—but that’s ok. And my dad would be proud.

Learning as you go…

Ok. Time to be honest. When I first approached my actors and committed myself to actually doing this, I had very little idea of what I was doing. I knew how I wanted the end product to eventually sound; getting there was a different matter.

I was fortunate enough to get some amazing help and advice along the way. But there was still a lot of learning by trial and error. Learning by doing is necessary, you just need to be prepared for a lot of “learning by redoing” as well.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve recorded Chapter One….And honestly, if I had the time, I wouldn’t mind redoing it once more….

One project, many roles

Somewhat related to the point above. If you’re just starting out, and you’ve never done anything similar, there is a learning curve. You’re not just the writer, you’re (usually) a voice talent, a producer, a director, a sound mixer, an editor, a tech person, a webmaster, and a promoter.

That’s a lot, especially if you’re lacking experience in some of these roles.

Again, learning by doing. My cast was patient while I learned how to direct. I was patient while I tried to figure out feeds. The community has been patient as I learn to be part of it.

The writing/podcasting/web worlds consist of circles within circles

So, there’s this web series you may have heard of, called NaNoWriMo: the Musical. And yes, there has been some good cross-promotion there…but really, I bring it up to illustrate a point.

The guy who wrote the music for NaNo is named Errol. I met him because Blythe, who voice acts in Hapax, also acted in NaNo and invited me along as an extra. Errol knows one of the clergy at the church where I sing, because she and her husband both enjoy geekdom and run their own podcast. Errol also knows J.M. Frey, who is one of my fellow authors at Dragon Moon Press.

Through Dragon Moon, I met Erik Buchanan: another Dragon Moon author. He knows someone who was involved in writing a play for the War of 1812 celebrations this year…a play in which Blythe acted.

Once you get hooked in, you’ll be amazed at the connections that appear.

Podcasting is a LOT of work

Talk to any podcaster, and you’ll hear this refrain over and over: “It is a lot of fun, but a LOT of work.”

Yes. A thousand times yes.

Podcasting is a lot of fun. Getting involved in it was probably one of the best things I’ve done. I have loved (almost) every minute of it.

But it is a LOT of work. I was warned about this, but you tend to brush it off, saying, “Sure, yes, I know.”

Until you realize how much time goes into every minute of finished podcast. Totally worth it, but, for the record: A LOT OF WORK. I’m looking forward to a short break before we start production on The Next One…but I already know it’s going to feel weird.

If you ask nicely, people are generally awesome

I have had so much help along the way. First, there were my actors. Only Gavin had actually read Hapax previously, and so he was the only one with any inkling of what he was getting himself into. Then, there were the podcasters I asked for advice, help, and promo spots. And of course, my various betas and guinea pigs.

Approaching all of these people was usually terrifying. But, as I’ve mentioned, the community is wonderful…so long as you ask nicely.

This seems like a good time to say, “Thank you,” to all of you. Without you (yes, you), the Hapax could not have been heard.

Stay tuned.

Posted on December 26, 2012, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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