I started a new podcast called I Will Read To You not long ago, which is exactly what it sounds like: just me reading a variety of things and then publishing that audio.
There were several ambitions underpinning this project, but primary among them was upping my audio-making cadence so as to increase my audio-making bandwidth.
Said another way: I wanted to normalize producing more audio-things, but the only audio projects in my portfolio were periodic audiobook recordings and a couple of weekly podcasts—undertakings that demand significant chunks of time and effort, both in front of a microphone and in front of my computer doing production work—but which don’t require more regular recording habits.
That lack of regularity limited me in some ways, because my recording routines—though fairly well-established after more than five years of doing such work—weren’t as refined as other aspects of the work I do.
I Will Read To You, then, provides me with an outlet for sharing interesting pieces of writing, while also granting me the excuse to sit down in front of a microphone and my production software as often as I like, limited only by my vocal cords and ability to discover things I want to share.
I took this a step further recently, creating a podcast version of a daily, news-focused email I publish called One Sentence News. This project is oriented around plucking a few items from the daily news tidal wave, concisely summarizing and contextualizing them, and sharing those (hopefully less overwhelming, but still useful) tidbits with subscribers.
I played around with an audio version of this project several months ago, partially as an excuse to experiment with voice-mimicking software that generated a halfway-convincing robo-Colin (which unfortunately wasn’t ready for prime time, but give it a few more years and I suspect it will be).
This time around, though, I decided to commit to the previously unthinkable cadence of a daily news podcast, which—although quite succinct at less than 4 minutes per episode, on average—is still quite the undertaking because of all the work involved in producing the script, recording the audio, and then manicuring that audio into sharable shape every evening (for publication the following morning).
I worried that such a project would negatively impact my schedule and lifestyle flexibility, but this daily recording cadence, so far at least, has proven to be both doable and valuable.
It has, alongside IWRTY, normalized the process of sitting down in front of the microphone and getting my voice, environment, and mindset ready to do that type of work.
It has also served as a sort of physical therapy for jaw muscles and joints that have suffered through medical issues and surgery over the past year: issues that left me feeling psychologically disconnected from one of my key communication tools (which is less than ideal for someone who hosts podcasts and speaks in public for a living).
Working out these weak, dusty joints and tendons and organs, re-training them, relearning how everything fits together and how they should feel, how they should function and how I might optimize their use—in terms of quality and in terms of durability—has been therapeutic but also a lot of fun; empowering and reassuring.
In some cases, for some undertakings, it may be more beneficial to opt for the comparably lightweight-but-steady strain of 15 minutes a day, five days a week rather than the energetic downpour of an hour or two, once a week.
A daily cadence can provide benefits beyond the potential for increased output and bandwidth: it can habituate the unaccustomed and connect (or reconnect) elements of our lives and aspects of ourselves that have become frayed, entangled, or unfamiliar.