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005: Become a Better Writer Faster

Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick
Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick
005: Become a Better Writer Faster

A call for writing advice led me to seriously consider the best “shortcut” I know to become a better writer. It’s not a book. It’s not “butt in chair” or “writers write.”

And it’s not a shortcut.

But if you’re just starting out as any kind of storyteller, cultivating this skill will shave years of effort from your writing practice… and maybe even make you a better human being in the process.

It’s empathy.

Listen to find out the how and the why… then come on back here and leave a comment to tell me what you think!

Links and Topics Mentioned in This Episode

Here are some of the things I talk about in this episode. Many of these links are to products and services with which I have an affiliate relationship. I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase those products and services through my links.

What Do You Think?

So what do you think? Is empathy over-rated as an important skill for writers and other storytellers? How do you use empathy when you’re writing? Do you even empathize..?  Let’s hear from you in the comments!

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Subscribe to Sonitotum

The best way to listen to Sonitotum With Matthew Wayne Selznick is to subscribe in a podcast app so you receive new episodes automatically. You’ll find Sonitotum at Apple Podcasts, Google Play Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you get your podcasts. To subscribe manually in any podcast provider, simply copy / paste the RSS feed:

The Music!

The opening theme song of Sonitotum is “Anastasia” written, performed, and recorded by yours truly, Matthew Wayne Selznick. You can hear or buy the full song on YouTube, Spotify,, iTunes, or just about anywhere you can buy or stream music online.

The closing and interstitial music is a little ditty I call “Gwinton,” also by yours truly, Matthew Wayne Selznick. It’s super-short and really just a looping thing, so it’s not available outside of the show.

On both songs, I play a 1972 Gibson Ripper bass guitar and a Fender “Bullet” Squire electric guitar. On “Anastasia,” the drums are performed on an Akai Professional MPD218 MIDI drum pad controller. For “Gwinton,” the drums are royalty-free loops found in the excellent Mixcraft Pro Studio software, which was also used to record, mix, and master both “Anastasia” and “Gwinton.”

Podcast Production and Hosting

Sonitotum is usually recorded using an Aurycle a460 large diaphragm studio condenser microphone through a Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD (audio interface for directly connecting microphones and musical instruments to a computer). Outdoor / remote episodes are often recorded using my Audio-Technica ATR-3350IS omnidirectional condenser lavalier mic. The show is edited and mixed in Adobe Audition. The episode files are hosted and delivered by; the website is hosted by Dreamhost.

Interested in starting your own podcast? Need help managing your existing show? I can help you like I help The What Matters Most Podcast and The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz, among others. Reach out!

Affiliate Declaration

Many of the links in these show notes are to products and services with which I have an affiliate relationship. This means that when you purchase that product or engage in that service, or, in some cases, related products or services, I may receive a modest commission at no extra expense to you. This is a great way to help support Sonitotum and my related creative endeavors, so thanks for doing business with these companies!


Sonitotum, including the Sonitotum podcast media, is released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License. You are free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
  • NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
  • No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

The full license can be found here.

Share This Post!

If you liked what you’ve read… share it with the folks you think would like it, too!


  • Hey Matthew, been listening since you began podcasting again a month or so ago. So far I’ve been listening as I go for a walk with one or more of my dogs, and your recordings provide me with substance not to be found on the radio dial I sometimes succumb to… I’ve found every episode resonates in a variety of ways.

    For example, empathy (a topic of this latest episode). Without it, what would a writer write about? Do sociopaths make good writers? I doubt it… A person without empathy may be able to fake her way through an essay, but a story with truly believable characters requires a deep understanding of how a person feels, of what drives his behavior… The writer who fails at empathy may as well resign himself to writing “stories” for the sides of cereal boxes.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to produce these for those of us out here yearning for substance, for truth, for authenticity. (Speaking of which, don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re feeling challenged by your own self-imposed drive toward authenticity. Try not to burn yourself out “keeping it real”. )

    • A
      Matthew Wayne Selznick

      Aw, Harold, thank you so much for this. Means a lot.

      I’m working hard to avoid the ol’ devil burn out — balance and harmony in all the things, ideally! Knowing that folks are appreciating some of the ways I’m trying to serve… that certainly helps. A comment like yours adds a whole big ton of soul coal to the engine. Thanks again, sir.

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