If we’ve met in person or even digitally, I know you’ve heard me say this at least ten times, but just in case you need a reminder: if you are looking to enter the writing world in any professional capacity, you need to get Yin Chang’s podcast 88 Cups of Tea on your playlist ASAP! Yin runs an amazing interview series, and my critique group and I have spent the last few years obsessively tuned in. As writers trying to break into the industry, listening leaves us excited to gather helpful tips and inspiring advice from the authors interviewed and from Yin herself.
While my friends love jumping to their favorite authors’ interviews, I’m a total Virgo, so I started listening from the very first episode and have not skipped any at all! I haven’t hit the most recent episodes yet as a result, but I’m listening regularly and only have a few months of material left before I’m all caught up. (And let’s be real, I’m probably moving a little slowly because I don’t want to run out of amazing episodes to listen to!)
The earlier interviews of the podcast are with writers doing work that I was less familiar with. Yin used her contacts in the media industry to interview directors and screenwriters, and as someone who pretty strictly works on prose fiction, it was fascinating for me to hear from people doing an entirely different kind of writing. I learned a ton! And I was pushed out of my comfort zone and the things I already knew about, which allowed me to broaden my perspective and gain some great new insights.
The thing that makes 88 Cups stand out from other writing podcasts is Yin’s approach to her interviews. She’s a really open and authentic personality, and that genuine quality breathes wonderful originality into each and every episode. And she’s not afraid to laugh! I listen to a lot of writing podcasts, and while there’s a ton of helpful information out there, 88 Cups remains my favorite because of the inclusive way in which Yin hosts: when a good time happens on the show, the joke isn’t just for her and her guest to chuckle privately at, but rather something fun for all listeners to engage with. You really feel like you’re sitting in on a conversation with good friends who want to offer you thorough and meaningful advice, and that’s something I haven’t found happening in quite the same way anywhere else.
To that end, Yin has created a beautiful, supportive, and thriving community of writers who share a love of the podcast and who encourage one another on social media. While I am sadly no longer in the 88 Cups of Tea group because I deleted my Facebook (it had to happen, but 88 Cups is the one thing tempting me to create a new account!), I’m still in touch with some of the people I met there through Instagram, which is awesome. Eva, Sara, and I also met some amazing writers and got to wish Yin and the podcast a happy birthday last year at the 88 Cups of Tea three-year celebration! Here are a few fun shots of us from that evening, which was a total blast, courtesy of the 88 Cups photo booth:
In honor of the podcast’s 4th year (Happy Happy Birthday to 88 Cups and to Yin!), I’ll mention some episodes in particular that have really helped me. These are my own personal highlights, but I can’t recommend enough that you check out the show and find favorite episodes of your own!
- I still vividly remember Tess Gerritsen’s episode, because I think she was the first big novelist to come on the show. While those episodes with screenwriters and filmmakers were truly eye-opening and wonderful for me to experience, I really fangirled when a novelist—the kind of writer I’m aspiring to be—joined the conversation! And besides my excitement for the podcast’s turn towards novelists, this interview is just full of great advice and fun exchanges.
- As a Municipal Liaison with the NYC chapter of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it was so exciting to hear from our fearless leader, Grant Faulkner, on 88 Cups! This episode really details what NaNoWriMo is all about, and it’s super-encouraging for writers who may be doubting their abilities. Grant is an awesome human being and a great champion for writers, and that shines through in this interview. I even assigned the episode to one of my undergraduate creative writing classes, and my students loved it, too!
- I didn’t get to Holly Root’s episode until after I’d queried her agency and received my very first full manuscript request from them. While they ultimately passed on my project, that first request stands out as a huge step forward in my writing journey. And after listening to this episode, I decided that Root Literary will always get a query from me (if my project seems like a good fit, of course)! Holly offered some of the most valuable advice I’ve heard on the podcast about breaking into the industry, and I truly cherish this episode.
- Yin’s interview with Rachel Heng was one of the episodes I loved because it encouraged me during a rough patch, and that’s not easy to do! I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet on the blog (forgive me if I have), but I hit my 100th query rejection this year, which feels like a huge achievement and also a giant bummer, all at the same time. This episode was uplifting in the midst of all of those rough feelings, and it helped me to keep pushing forward and preparing for the next hundred rejections. I also ended up reading Suicide Club because of the interview, and it was one of my favorite reads of this summer.
- The interview that I think I had the most fun with was Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s shared episode in which they talk about their experience as writing buddies, critique partners, co-authors, and best friends. While I don’t collaborate with my critique partners as co-authors, so much of the friendship through writing that I heard from Amie and Meagan reminded me of the incredible bonds I have with my own writing buddies, Sara and Eva. This is another interview that I assigned my students before I put them into critique groups, and it really helped them learn how to collaborate and work together as writers. If you have any kind of friendship that has flourished because of writing, or you hope to create one, then this episode is for you.
- Julie Dao’s episode gave me the tough love I really needed to deal with my rejection blues. The moment of this interview that was both a kick to the gut and also a hug around my heart is when Julie says, “The day you give up could be the day before your dreams come true.” I don’t think I’d ever really entertain giving up, but man, I needed to hear this! This episode really restored some of the fire I need to keep me pushing forward in spite of whatever rejection I’m facing.
I’ll stop myself there, but I could go on and on about so many of the inspiring episodes! The best way to find your own favorites is to have a listen for yourself.
This September, for my 32nd birthday, I’ll be signing up to support 88 Cups of Tea on Patreon. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and now that I finally landed my new librarian trainee position, I can help support this podcast which has done so very much for me and my writing. If you’re reading this post and are already a longtime fan of 88 Cups as I am, I hope you’ll also check out the Patreon, too. Yin gives so much to this community, and it’ll be awesome to know that I’m backing my fellow writers by contributing.
I hope that this post inspired you to check out 88 Cups of Tea! It is a true slice of writerly magic that will make your writing life sparkle a whole lot more. Until next time, I hope you find yourself surrounded by only the best wisdom and advice for your writing,