1091 – Curious State Crossover
In case you are curious about the creaky dulcet creation, we have this crossover with the podcast Curious State for your comfort and consumption.
- Wuzza Wuzza
- Nighttime Narrative Bread
- Sweet Cotton Candy Secrets
- “Cracker” – Low
- Curious State Podcast
- Spongebob Squarepants
Notable Talking Points:
- You can’t be prone and deal with your inner critic
- The Goldie Locks Zone of just interesting enough
- I need to draw from 3 different wells of creativity
Episode 1091 – Curious State Crossover
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…I had trouble saying something. It’s time for the podcaster who says jeez, are you curious for me to go on meanders about curiosity? You say, I don’t know. I’m curious what you’re rambling about. Well, I’m here. If you ever have trouble falling asleep, if you’re new, this podcast is here to keep you company and take your mind off of stuff, because you deserve a good night’s sleep. That’s really what I’m here for, and I’m gonna explain everything here in a little bit of the structure of the show, why I make the show, but the main reason is to be here to keep you company so that you could fall asleep. The show is very, very different. It’s out of the ordinary. It’s not extraordinary, but I’m here to be your friend in the deep, dark night, and keep you company. I’m glad you’re here. If you’re new, don’t worry about this, but if you’re a regular listener, these are the ways I’m able to be here for you for free twice a week. Thanks for making it possible, patrons.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake, whether it’s thoughts, things on your mind, so thoughts that you’re thinking about. So thoughts, feelings, anything you’re feeling or coming up for you emotionally. So thoughts about the past, the present, or the future, feelings about thoughts or the past, the pres…future, feelings that are just there that come up that…they make an appearance.
You say, couldn’t you have appeared somewhere else? Then you say well, actually, never mind. I wouldn’t…I say yeah, I could have. Say okay, well, alright. Maybe we should set a…here’s the thing; that’s the thing about a worry journal or other methods. You say yeah, let’s have a…let’s set a meeting for this. I mean, that’s the thing; say hey, feelings or thoughts, can we set up a meeting later? This could be a new Sleep With Me method. Let’s set up a meeting for that. Maybe we’ll talk about that, ‘cause it kinda ties into the…what this…content of this episode. So, thoughts, feelings, could be physical sensations, changes in time, temperature, routine, you could be traveling, you could have guests coming into town.
Whatever it is that’s keeping you awake, I’m here to keep you company and take your mind off of it so that you could fall asleep. I think…oh yeah, the way I do…or the reason I do it is because you deserve a good night’s sleep, right, and because I’ve been there. I know how it feels. There’s hundreds of thousands of people that listen to this show that know how it feels. We might not know exactly what you’re going through, but a lot of us have been there with the thoughts and the feelings at least. Even if you’re not…even if you have a partner or a roommate or you’re in a house full of people, we know how it can feel like you’re the only one, right? So, we want you to know, yeah, we can connect with that feeling and you deserve a good night’s sleep.
You deserve a bedtime that has less rigmarole, that doesn’t have dread, that you feel neutral about or that you could look forward to. So…because it is important and a lot of parts of us will say it’s not important, but it is. You deserve it and that’s why I make the show, because if your life is a little bit more manageable because you’re getting the rest you need, the world we are all in is a better place to be in. It’s even more important ‘cause it’s your world, right? Your world will be a little bit better. I want that for you; I want that for everybody. So, you deserve it. That’s why I make the show. So what I do is I send my voice across the deep, dark night. I’m gonna use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents, so I’m gonna go off-topic, I’m gonna get mixed up, then I’m gonna double back, then I’m gonna say what did…what was I…whaz…whazza?
So, pointless meanders, yeah, and that means I’m gonna go off-topic and get mixed up. Even when I’m in the middle of describing what a pointless meander is, I’ll go on tangents. Creaky, dulcet tones just means my voice is not traditionally soothing. A few other things to know about the show; this is a podcast you don’t have to listen to. There’s no pressure to listen to it. A lot of people just kinda barely listen, just like a camera that’s out of focus. But you could tell the picture is nice, or it looks nice out of focus. You say huh, that’s kinda nice. It’s fuzzy, but I like those colors. Not bad. Looking at it is somewhat relaxing and I don’t really need to know the detail…they say yeah, don’t worry about the details in the picture. Just check it out, or you could kinda just pass by it.
So, some people listen to the show where I’m lowered down to a mumble, and some people are listening. Some people tune in and tune out. There’s no pressure to listen. This is also a podcast that doesn’t put you to sleep. It’s a sleep podcast that’s here for you while you fall asleep, to take your mind off of stuff, so there’s no pressure to fall asleep. I’m gonna be here ‘til the very end for the next hour, because there are people listening the whole time. So if you can’t sleep, I’m here for you to the end, or if you’re having a tough day and you just need to take a break, I’m here for you. I’m here to keep you company whether you’re listening or not, whether you’re awake or not. Or you say huh, I don’t even know if I like your company. I say, that’s okay. I’m still here to keep you company.
You don’t even have to…you could just…and you can tune in and tune out of me, just like other stuff we all know. We say okay, I’m kinda paying attention and then I’m not. So, I’m here to take your mind off of stuff and keep you company versus falling…you…putting you to sleep in some magical way or for you to listen to me. I’m here to be your bore-friend, your bore-bae, your bore-sib, your bore-bud, your bore-bestie, your bore-bor, your neigh-bore, your bore-bruh, your bore-friend, to keep you company, to just be here for you. So, those are a couple things to know. The other thing that can throw people off is the structure of the show and the fact that it does take a few tries to get used to the podcast.
A lot of people, like seven figures-worth of people, have said hey, it took two or three tries for me to get used to the show because it is very different. It’s not like I just…it isn’t like a podcast where I put you to sleep or I start counting down or I’m even that calm. I’m definitely a little bit out there and I don’t take you…I take you on a journey, but you’re not paying attention or you don’t have to interact on this journey. It’s more of a meandering…you say, are we going anywhere on this journey? I say, I don’t know. I mean, I kinda know where I’m going. That’s how I live my personal life a lot of times too, and it’s less soothing. You say, oh…but in this case you say well, you know, you just go ahead and doze off whenever you want. What was I talking about? Oh, give it a few tries.
Now, if you already know you dislike me or the…you don’t like me, my…or the style of the show, that’s okay, too. Sleepwithmepodcast.com/nothankyou has a list of sleepy podcasts and sleepy audio because whether you like me and the show or not, you still deserve a good night’s sleep, so try one of those things out. But I do recommend, and it’s just from other listeners who have gone on to support the show for years and years and years, is give it a few tries if you can, ‘cause you really don’t have anything to lose, and then try all those shows. But if you already have a strong reaction, go ahead; sleepwithmepodcast.com/nothankyou. So, oh, what else? Oh, structure of the show really throws people off…is…oh yeah, give it a few tries, then the structure of the show also throws people off, but it’s structured in a very specific way.
If you’re a regular listener, you kinda know the intro has a rhythm to it, but it’s different every time. I think that’s important because for me, whatever keeps me awake at night adjusts, so nothing…if I have…tried to listen to the same thing every single night, that part of me would adjust and say oh no, no, no, this is…I know what’s coming next, so let’s talk about spreadsheets or whatever. So, I would say what…why…what is that sound? I’d say, I don’t hear it. Oh, you don’t hear it? I can hear it. Did you get that done? You say, get what done? So, yeah, so that’s why the intro is different every time, but it is about twelve or fifteen minutes.
Oh, but before the intro…so, the show starts off with a greeting; friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and then I try to say something silly or something so you feel seen and welcome in and you say okay, I kinda get…I could check that podcast out. It seems somewhat friendly. So, that’s the greeting. Then there’s support so the podcast can be free twice a week, come out on a regular basis, and be optional; you don’t have to pay for it. So, that’s what the sponsor support and the listener support do. Then there’s support for listeners and support for communities around the show. Then after that is the intro, which I was explaining is different every time, but it’s also fifteen minutes or twelve or ten minutes long. The reason for the long intro is to ease you into bedtime, to give you some wind down.
So, for a regular listener…like, 2% of regular listeners are skipping the intro, a few percentage of people are asleep, but for most regular listeners, they’re doing other…some other activity whether it’s getting in bed, getting comfortable, doodling, knitting, getting ready for bed, foam rolling, or just chilling, or maybe even paging through something or looking at a magazine or reading a book or something. You could do two…you can multi-task with Sleep With Me; that’s fine as part of your wind-down routine, ‘cause the intro is meant to ease you into bedtime. Not so much…it could put you to sleep, but it doesn’t need to put you to sleep. It’s a twilight period, a interstitial or some…I don’t know what the interstitial means, but maybe it’s the interstitial. I don’t know…between being awake and going to sleep.
Then there’s support again so the podcast can come out twice a week for free, and then it’ll be a story. Tonight it’ll be our crossover episode with the podcast Curious State, which you could check out the original episode on that podcast in your podcast app of choice. It’ll be very much like a bedtime story. I’ll go on some tangents and go off-topic, and then there’s thank-yous at the end. So, that’s the structure of the show and you heard why I make the show. Again, one reason I make the show is ‘cause all those thoughts and feelings do come up at bedtime for me, and I was like hey, wait a second, what…could we schedule that? That was part of another podcast crossover we did, Science of Happiness, where it’s like oh, let’s do a worry journal a few hours before bed.
But it’s also funny be…or the reason I want to point it out is ‘cause this pod…this is kinda talking a little bit about the history of the podcast, this interview I did with Doug on Curious State. But you know, it was really hard for me to make the podcast ‘cause I have a big internal critic and there was…I said well, why…a podcast to put people to sleep? No one’s gonna want that. What I had to do was schedule appointments with my critic because I kinda can’t bring my critic into the podcast studio here or under the stairs, the climb-in closet where I record it. So, what I have to do is quiet things down, right? So, with the podcast, I said okay…I said let’s not make that podcast, my critic said. I said well, let’s just…I want to try to make this podcast.
So, I scheduled meetings with my critic after the second episode, the seventh or eighth episode, the twentieth episode, and the fiftieth episode, and I think then the 150th episode. After that, I should have scheduled him more frequently versus…I think then it was on a yearly basis, which I gotta schedule one. I’m glad we’re talking about this. So hey, critic, we’ll have a meeting about this. But it did work. Then I said…after the second episode I said okay, critic, what do you think? It said well, I think we should stop the podcast. I said okay, why? Well, it’s not going good. Oh, you’re right. We’re just learning. We only made two…yeah, but I think we’re…oh, okay, yeah, I guess we could make…can we just make it until Episode 8 and then we’ll talk about it again? Okay, I guess so.
Episode 8, it was kind of a similar conversation, but maybe two people were listening at…or three people at that point. So, I said well, we got like three listeners that I know of. I listened seven times, but there’s ten total listens, so…okay. So there’s three mystery…are you sure they’re not bots? Not sure about that, but…and then it was…I don’t think it was until seven or eight months that I started getting any kind of feedback. Maybe it was before that, but…so, the whole time I said hey, it’s going okay, though. Then my critic said okay, yeah, I guess so. So, I don’t know if that’ll help you at bed…before bedtime.
You can’t do it once you’re in bed because then…it’s weird that those things kinda have their own…it’s like, once you’re lying down…I guess you gotta be sitting up to deal with those parts of yourself, or standing. Say okay, let’s talk about it. Let’s have a meeting versus once you’re prone, they seem to have…they’re influencing creases or something. So, I don’t know. I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad I can keep you company and take your mind off of stuff and help you fall asleep. I work really hard. That’s what I yearn and strive to do. I’m really glad you’re here. If you’re new, give it a few tries, see how it goes, ‘cause I do really want to help you fall asleep. Thanks again for coming by, and here’s a couple of ways I’m able to do it for you for free twice a week.
Alright everybody, Scoots here, and this is a crossover episode with the podcast Curious State and my friend Doug that interviewed me…I don’t know when Doug interviewed me now. It was the spring of a year…was it a…no, it was…I think it was the winter. I’d have to look back at my e-mail, which I could do in a bit. You heard me talk about Curious State; you could check it out in your podcast app of choice, but we’ve done this before and we do it…we’ll do it again. It’s meandering. This was Episode 12, Does This Episode Make You Sleepy? This was a machine transcription, so this is gonna be good, and we’ll see what meanders come out of it. But first, it looks like Doug sets it up. There’s a summary of keywords from this transcription engine. Sleep, meandering, podcast, listeners, people, listening, story.
So, this is good. These might be…I would say listeners and listening are probably the number one and number two important things. Meandering’s important. People…listeners, people, listening, story, sleepy, characters, Drew, sleep, stay, friends, wagon. Remember A Boy With His Wagon? Is wagon…was that a…well, that would be interesting to see when wagon comes up. Did it come up more than once? Episode, bedtime stories, tales, brain, and early, and thoughts. So, then Doug sets it up. There’s nothing like some truly delicious sleep, the kind where you’re out cold the minute you hit the pillow. You find yourself among the lilac-scented clouds, symphonies of roses, painting images on endless fields, the kind of sleep dreams are made of. Do you remember the last time that actually happened?
I mean, either…but we try hard, don’t we? We listen to soothing music. We meditate. We stay away from screens a half-hour before bed. Some of us even put on a special headband and listen to audiobooks like the Wizarding World to sweep us into dreamland. Oh, this is interesting; so, this is the first really good one with the machine…so, but what if you had a bedtime buddy? Apple tonic powel…Apple tonic powel? I don’t know what that…who could slow the thoughts running through your head and low you to sleep? Low you, but lull you. Remember the song…there was a band called Cracker and their hit was Low, or one of their hits, I think. That was David Lowery, who I believe became a movie director. Am I getting my facts correct? I don’t know. Apple tonic powel.
Apple tonic powel…you had a bedtime story; apple tonic powel. Apple tonic powel. Apple tonic powel…oh, a bedtime…I don’t know. Apple tonic powel. Then I think they go to…then I introduce myself; I’m Drew Ackerman. I go on the podcast by Dear Scooter. Dears…old Dears Scooter. Rides a tractor, a dearest tractor. He’s been riding that tractor for years, going off-topic and meandering. Out in the field…I tell him; son, tractor’s made for tractor-related activities, not for just driving…well, that’s why I bought my own tractor, papa. Remember, with my newspaper money? I said I’m gonna drive that tractor around and…I’m just gonna…it’s a meander tractor, papa. It’s all…papa, do you want…oh, I was using your tractor, though, pa. But you could use mine; it’s actually newer. I bought you a tractor so I could use yours.
Remember, you agreed to all this. Oh, I thought you were in the middle of a Curious State episode turned into a Sleep With Me episode. I was, but then I went off-topic. Old dears…it’s a bedtime story for…I go by Dear Scooter. I make a podcast called Sleep With Me, bedtime stories for adults. I put people for…to sleep for a living. You like it? People always say, are you an anesthesiologist? That’s what people say, too. Like, total strangers or somewhat strangers. They say, what do you do for a living? I put people to sleep. Oh, you’re a anesthesiologist? Usually that’s more impressive than a sleep podcaster if you’re trying to charm someone, by the way. Just so you know…if you think…I guess also a process of elimination. It eliminates everybody. But one day, it won’t eliminate the right person. Oh, boy. I say, no.
When I first go to podcast meetups like 2012, ‘13, ‘14, and you’d sit around in a circle and everybody would say what podcast they wanted to make or what they were working on and I would just see these blank faces…and I’d be like yeah, this is my podcast; bedtime stories in there. They…no…well, I’ll read it and then I’ll explain it, just like they…just that poor guy. Like, I can see their head, like I would share. They’d be like oh, okay, so you’re a little weird. So yeah, I would go to these podcast meetups, right, and this was the early days, 2012, before the podcast existed and then after I started it. The first few, they were just starting up. So, everybody was a little nervous and also, we all get a competitive thing, you know, of where are we on the social, whatever, hierarchy with strangers.
But you would sit around in a circle and you’d say oh, I’m thinking about starting a pod…I’m working on a podcast called this or I’m thinking about…and I’d say oh boy, I gotta do this again. I don’t even remember the first time. I kinda do. Maybe I just said yeah, I’m working on…but I said I make a podcast; it’s to put people to sleep. I’m sorry. It’s like bedtime stories. It’s called Sleep With Me. Next. Usually I’d just do that really fast and then say okay, go ahead. But I could see, ‘cause you were sitting a circle, everybody’s faces, and they’d be like, what? Then later if there was questions, they’d say what…can we go back to you? Or sometimes people would be assertive enough; they’d say I’m sorry, can you explain that a little bit better? Then even then, I was not enthusiastic.
So I’d say well, it’s like…yeah, it’s like…I was trying to maintain…trying to stay small. [MUMBLING]. They’d say, huh. But then later what would happen is I would achieve some level of comfort with the group and then unrelated to Sleep With Me, I would share something or I would talk more about the show in a more animated way, and then someone inevitably would say okay, I get it now, now that I’m…I see you, dear one. I mean, they were subtextually saying. They’d say, I see you’re a…you’re an odd bird. Nothing wrong with it, especially if you’re in a group of podcasters. That’s totally an accepting place for the most part. They say okay, now I get…now I can see it.
So, it’s funny; once…when I’m not being myself or I’m being a dialed down, hidden version of myself, people would be…but when I was a little bit relaxed, they’d say okay, that makes perfect sense for you. So, okay, so then Doug says little did they know, the idea would softly, gently skyrocket in popularity. Today, Sleep With Me gets over three million downloads every month. It’s still pretty much the same. It’s over a hundred thousand people every night falling asleep to Drew’s hypnotic voice and meandering tales, but how does he do it? What’s the secret sauce to losing a football stadium’s-worth of people sleeping every night? I’m Doug Fraser and this is Curious State, The Art of a Sleepy Story Part 1, The Meandering…Take the Meandering Road Home.
So Drew, what do you think are some key elements that make a story sleepy? Thanks, Doug. Glad we’re here together in my imagination. Doug and I have become good friends, so…ideally there’s some structure to it. If it’s going really well, it’s something that’s just out of focus. So, the person listening, they can kinda make out the details but it’s not so visceral or clear. Really, I mean, just like a good podcast or a regular podcast, I need…I think it needs to have something for the listener to connect to or just hang on, in my case. Like, hang their thoughts on like they’re taking off their work jacket. This is kinda…what’s that…? Friend to be your neighbor? Who was that guy? Most seminal figure, Oscar…I think Tom Hanks won it. This is where my mind…Fred Neighbors? That was his name.
The Good Neighbor Show? Mister Friendly? No. How can I not remember? Mr. Rogers. Fred Neighbors; not his name. Fred Rogers was his name. One of my heroes. But yeah, this is just my brain working or not working. Okay, take off their work jacket…so, see how that was a archetypal thing, that Fred Rogers did. So whether it’s a character or details or something immersive or something happening, but it has to misdirect their attention; say hey, I’m gonna listen to this person, this strange person, talk to me while I’m vulnerable and in bed. I put imbed, like imbed code…and see how it goes instead of thinking about whatever it is that’s keeping me awake. But pretty good transcription. For listeners, it could be anything.
Like, last year we did a few where I would read through toy catalogs and kinda riff on the toy catalogs. Twenty-four hour repeat musical alarm features Pac-Man characters, electric sound effects. Play with progressive levels of difficulty. Automatically records the highest scorer. Was $44.95…maybe this is a clip from the show…now $90.95 roulette game. Watch; $90.95. So, people love that. Then other people…if you put one of those out again, they say I’ll never listen again. So, that’s true, every day. So it’s like, finding a variety for listeners to just keep going and keep taking small risks. But then for me as a creator…and it’s really tough to explain this, but I only need it to happen once every twelve to sixteen months where I sit down and record something and I’m not sure how it’s gonna turn out.
Then it turns out really, really well, I think, and probably I talked about this. Maybe I’ll talk about it coming up, of Genny, the username generator, is my standard. But I know there’s been other episodes. Honestly, now I’m finding the reverse is true. This is Drew speaking outside of Curious State but expounding on it; I’ve been listening to episodes a few months before they come out, and there’s been…every…now it’s like every four months…‘cause I’m recording further out, where I’ll record a episode, three months will pass, then I’ll listen to the episode. I’m really proud of it, where I’m like, wow. I think that’s nice to have some distance from it and to be like…and I can think of…there’s the one, Dog, Cat, Llama Roommate.
I’m very proud of that episode, and the…there was a series of episodes like that, like a beanstalk one. Then more recently for me, but probably not more…maybe more recently for you; Fast and the Fury…Furrow…Fast and the Furrowous. What is that other one? I don’t know. It’s gone from my…oh, the Teapot in Flannel. As well as the last episodes that…I don’t know. So, now I’m having a different experience where it doesn’t happen, the spark of creation. It’s like, afterwards, I say wow, you did really good at that. I think it’s also because I have a separation between the person…the creative side and the production side. So, when I’m listening, I’m not listening as so much as the writer voiceover person…as the person…the producer, and saying to the voiceover and the writer, ‘cause usually these would be separate positions in a podcast.
But not Curious State; Doug does a lot of the…a lot of podcasts are one person doing all these different roles. But whereas the producer, which is different as a produce…than a producer on a TV show or a movie. It’s a little bit different; it’s more of a hands-on position like a editor. Just a word, but I say wow, you did…I really liked that. More like a television segment…a producer who’s doing segments or a news producer, even though it’s not journals. You say, is there more of…immediacy to the feedback? I like those choices you made. Oh no, here it comes; I’m not sure how it’s gonna turn out. The episodes where Drew goes in blind, Doug says, something strange happens. He gets swept up in the story and forgets himself. He becomes one with the narrative, a vehicle for possibility. Oh, thank you, Doug.
That’s very kind of you to say. Like the time he told the story from the perspective of a sentient user generator named Genny. So, this is where also voiceover…this is my producer brain talking about Curious State. This is a benefit of this style of interview podcast, is maybe there was a gap in my answer to Doug’s questions, and so Doug was able to use a voiceover here, or at least as I’m seeing it in the transcript, to fill in the gap and clarity in my answer, possibly, and in a way that’s…benefits the listener. Now we’re totally in a meta zone here. But because…okay, back to the…because I was thinking that it must be exhausting to have to deal with it every day. I’m thinking of the generator…username generator, Genny. So, I was like, let’s do a interview and sit down with the username generator.
Again, it would be exhausting ‘cause so many people would be writing these inappropriate usernames and thinking they’re funny. It ended up, it went in a direction I didn’t expect and it just stayed lulling and stuff. For me, it’s like being surprised by the process, ‘cause it is such a process-based thing that I forget about all the time. That was me adding that part on the end, but…episodes of Sleep With Me — this is Doug — range in…episodes of Sleep With Me range in topics; toy catalogs, fiction, recipes. The wealth of imagination runs deep no matter the subject. Each episode is structured around a beginning, middle, and end between two pieces of nighttime narrative bread, his tasty, sleepy stuff. They’re meandering. Okay, and this I think is a clip.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends beyond the binary, it’s time for the podcaster who says I’m gonna wash those thoughts right out of your hair. If I didn’t, I wonder what you do say. What’s up with that? Like, what’s up with the scale here? Lenny…things about your Shahar. Your schedule is supposed to go with that washing-the-hair stuff, you know? I don’t have the best hair, anyway. So, tonight only, hashawoo. It feels good to have no spoon bubbles up there. It is good; believe me. The bubbles are on the inside and the outside. Then Doug says what does that meandering have in telling a sleepy story? I say so, I call them meander points, which kinda sounds a bit like me underpants. I can’t believe he left that in there. That’s funny. Meander points; me underpants. I love that.
It does; meander points, me underpants. But meander points is…for me, it’s the story. What are you…like, what are you wearing to the Spongebob Squarepants ball? Meander…me underpants. Sorry; I thought…I said me…I meant my underpants, but I said meander points. But I can’t wear those; I can only live them. It starts off with something like a beginning, whether it’s a character that has a want or something or it needs something? Question mark. Then it’s like okay, how would they solve this problem? Ideally, there’s either one I already have in mind or it’s like okay, I know what they need. How am I going to get to the end? In-between that, if I have some points, I can stay calm. So it’s like, sometimes I’ll write stories, sometimes I’ll plot them out, or sometimes I’ll use a randomizer.
I’ll have a list of random words or random songs or pictures, and that helps me go on the meander, because it’s like I can always go back. If I have something concrete to return to, even if it’s a picture, it helps me relax when I feel like the meanders are petering out. So, this is key stuff in here about Sleep With Me. So it’s like, keeping the story going just enough. Sometimes I feel like me and the listener are sort of riding in some sort of wagon and someone else is driving and the wagon is very bumpy. I wonder if I expound on this, ‘cause this is actually a interesting analogy. I remember talking about it. I don’t know if it’s a fully-formed analogy. You could kinda…you, the listener, could spill out of the wagon at any point you want. Oh, then I do.
It’s like some safe place where there’s hay everywhere; inside the wagon, outside the wagon, but hypoallergenic hay, of course, for people like me. You don’t have to worry. The wagon’s going to the next meander point. You could get right back on the wagon or you could spill out and fall asleep any time you want, or I could fall out of the wagon. It’s just like oh, wait a second, that reminds me of what I had for breakfast, even though it has nothing to do with anything, and see where that goes, and then try to bring it back again. So, let’s see if we can come back to that wagon analogy. But Doug asked, in that process, how do you find the Goldilocks zone between making the show too interesting that it keeps people awake and just interesting enough that it lulls them to sleep?
I answer well, I mean, I guess that’s a question that keeps me making the show, actually. I think for me, it’s also about having fun and in some sense, seeing where that line is without pushing too hard. So, right now we’re doing a series. So, there’s a giant dinosaur and we’re doing a series on those giant beings. Moth Breath is one of them, fighting like the Spice Friends that are like giants similar to Care Bears. It’s like, that’s the plot of the story, okay? That’s pretty intense. They’re fighting over Earth and human beings are at risk, and…but that’s what I like. That’s the kind of puzzle I like to solve. It’s like okay, how can we make it sleepy? It fails sometimes; I mean, I got a e-mail from somebody and they’re like, I don’t like that. I don’t like to be reminded of giant lizards roaming the Earth.
It’s like okay, I totally respect that, and it’s like exploring the comfort zone together, being the listeners and knowing okay, sometimes I’m gonna trip and fall on my face. Then Doug says whatever the sleepy story Drew decides to tell, there are certain topics he must avoid at all costs. The art of a sleepy story, Part 2: Don’t Freak People Out, Man. I like that. Sleep is sort of a holistic healing tool for our bodies and minds. It helps with retaining information. Without it, your brain can become essentially waterlogged. Studies show if you want to improve your memory, it’s best to get a good night’s sleep to prime your brain the night before, to let this information soak deep into the recesses of your memory. Sleep is also personal, and some listeners of Drew’s podcast have strong opinions about what they do and don’t like.
Okay, this is interesting, so we’ll have to…early on…yeah, like I mentioned, there’s beings that work…web-based beings and beings with non…they’re non-warm-blooded. They don’t…you don’t check it and see. People are like, what were you thinking? You make a sleep podcast. Like, where I mention milk? That’s…can’t be right. Well, I had never done it before, so I was like oh, okay, no of those beings. Now we call them…oh, cold-breaded…butter…cold-breaded friends, friends with cool blood, web-based beings. So, now I try to come up with fun stuff like that; money, voting-based…you know, money, people, leading figures, stuff around anything that’s gonna have a strong emotional impact. Then early on, I had to learn to get over myself.
When I was first doing the show, I was a bit more self-depricating in a way that was unkind. Early, people would be like well, that’s not what I tuned into a podcast to hear, someone making fun of themselves and not being nice to themselves. Another one is not pointing out the fact that people can’t sleep, because early on it was like hey, maybe nobody’s listening. People e-mailed me, two different listeners, and they said you know what? I thought we had made an arrangement where you keep me company in the deep, dark night, and then you violated our arrangement and pointed out I was all alone. I couldn’t sleep and it really hurt my feelings, and that was such a powerful thing to do.
I mean, I didn’t even know if podcasts…this podcast would exist without that early feedback, where it’s like okay, I did; I had to keep that in mind, and always that people are in a fragile state, and some people have a form of insomnia where they’re not gonna fall asleep and they’re listening for a form of companionship or distraction. So, I do want to comment on this a little bit, is like yeah, this…we got…a lot of this early, when the podcast was developing. As my hobby, it was like…and there was a smaller audience pool, right, like feedback about yeah, don’t talk about web-based beings directly, or this…these different things, the relationship…I don’t know, there’s a more immediacy of okay, let’s alter this. Now I have to…that was when there was…feedback was more rare and it was pretty level, for the most part.
I don’t know if that’s more a reflection of the outside world or just the world of podcasts, but in the past five or six years, this has become much more a hayride without the hay, trying to navigate, because people either express their opinions in a non-constructive way or it’s just…you know what I’m saying. So, it’s like, it’s a little bit different now, where it’s become much more time-consuming to parse through stuff and to get an idea; okay, this person is more having a rough day and I’m the person…I was the last person they’re gonna talk to that day, or more like, I don’t know what that person’s…going on with that person’s day, but this…I don’t know if this is a very nice thing to say. A lot of times I just read through it and I’m…say, would I say this to somebody at a grocery store?
That’s almost always what I use, the grocery store rule. This is a tangent, by the way. This didn’t come up on the podcast, or maybe it does later. But I do use that grocery store rule, ‘cause it’s like okay, if I read a piece of feedback and I wouldn’t say it to someone out loud that I don’t know at a grocery store, I…at this point, I don’t really…I can’t…that’s like my…and then I’d say okay, I think I would, or I’m not sure, then I probably would parse it. But if it’s a no or yeah, oh no, yeah, no, I wouldn’t be comfortable saying that, or even if it’s the words around; like, if I take out the stuff about the podcast and put in about honeydew melons or frozen foods…a lot of times, even if it starts out a certain way, I say well, okay…so, that’s actually been helpful. Sometimes I forget to use that, but I say oh, okay.
If I wouldn’t speak to someone that way at a grocery store that I don’t know, it’s okay to just delete it and not parse it. Again, that’s also because it is…my primary thing is to keep making the…keep the show going. Oh, and then Doug says that there’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders. I’ve learned that it’s…if I’m trying to create a safe place for people to fall asleep, I also have to think that it’s…it also has to be safe for me to fail, and that’s not easy. I constantly…overthinking it or worrying about it. But it’s like this weird thing where, yeah, sometimes you’re gonna fail and sometimes the listeners are gonna be not happy about it, or not every listener’s gonna like every episode, and there’s gonna be people that don’t like you at all.
Okay, it’s gonna be okay, because it would be kind of a authentic, serious way to describe it, but I’m trying to stay calm and be present so I can tell the story to a person and help them fall asleep. If I get caught up in my own self-criticism, it definitely distracts from the purpose of the show. Okay, this is back to Doug. The purpose has big impacts. A lack of sleep is not good for mood, creative output, self-control, stuff…looking at stuff with the front of your head and stuff. The front of your head and stuff; it’s like okay, what’s…helps with self-control, gate-keeping, emotional…switched-off…a lack of sleep’s not good for that. Not only are we groggy; impulsive, could be. Sound familiar? Oh boy, does it. If you want to dig into the nitty gritty of sleep, you have to check out Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.
I can’t recommend it highly enough. In the most literal sense, it’s a life-changing book. Here’s a passage that has stuck with me; so, this is Doug quoting Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Sleep is not a credit system or bank. You can’t recover the sleep, but we can accumulate a debt, but not without penalty, and we can’t repay that debt at a later time. So, Drew’s meandering stories act more than just fun tales; they help listeners from going-into-sleep debt. Now, if all goes right for the episode, most listeners won’t be awake to the end. They’ll have drifted off to dreamland long before then. But for those who are still awake, what does the ending look like? How do you get out of it? How do you get out of a sleepy story? Okay, so there’s a conundrum. Okay, so this is me answering.
So, this is…there’s a conundrum of sleep podcasts right there. It’s like, there’s nothing worse than not knowing how a story’s gonna end for me, the storyteller, because it’s like, I have my producer brain that’s loosely listening to everything I’m saying because I’m monitoring my audio and some part of my brain is listening. Of course, it’s helping me course-correct ideally without paying attention to what I’m saying. Then I’m also acutely aware of the clock, so it’s like even though I don’t make a radio show…that’s a radio show term, the clock, ‘cause if you’re making a nine-minute segment, it’s gotta be nine minutes. With Sleep With Me, it’s looser than that, but it is like…I like to have the episodes be somewhat in a certain range. I did one with a marionette.
Oh, this is funny; working with Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk. I was like, this should be simple to solve. They should just get to the top and get the golden chicken or whatever it is. But the characters kept making these choices, and I’d be like okay, they want to go over there. I’m like okay, we’re at forty-seven minutes now. But at the same time, if anything distracts me from being there, it’s kind of like a liability. Then again, it’s me getting in the way. So, okay, you could trust this, that you work out or trust that the characters…or gently guide them towards the solution. Then there’s times that the landing is not stuck, or if the landing is too intense, like if you…somebody not landing a jump or something on YouTube…I’m trying to listen in a sense and be like okay, we’ll do a little post-script here to say okay, just remember…so, this is…probably Otter Things is a good example.
Okay, just remember, everything’s gonna be okay. All will be well, as Emma Otter said. Or if there’s a unresolved part of the series, it’d be like okay, now the characters are gonna rest together. So, those ones are a little bit of a cheat, but it’s keeping the audience in mind. Okay, can we turn the volume down if we can’t end in a way that feels satisfactory? The puzzle-solving is what keeps me going, and the connection with the listeners, knowing okay, when I’m trying to solve the puzzle, they benefit from it. But I realize it’s also like man, this is a bit bonkers. Every time I hear myself talking about this, I’m like yeah, you’re chasing windmills. You’re chasing windmills. But it’s like oh, okay, how lucky am I to be like man, I’m really grateful? I’m grateful to help people.
Whether it’s my show or another show, they are struggling with something I can relate to, and it’s really important to me ‘cause I know how it feels in not being able to sleep. This is Doug; in our attention-grabbing world, it’s too easy to neglect sleep, almost comically so. After all, we have better things to do. We barter a good night’s sleep for a few more episodes of a TV show, a couple more hours of scrolling, until we find ourselves in a new normal one where we’re endlessly tired and make endless plans to change it. We make a bad habit of good intentions. Listening to Sleep With Me made me appreciate a different, quieter kind of experience, lovable meandering.
It becomes a space you can sink your mind into and just be like the calming voice in the dark, blowing hush-bubbles, whispering sweet cotton-candy secrets, and letting your thoughts fade into a transparent, rice paper-like dream, awaiting friends…awaiting its friends arrival. That friend is you. To learn more about Drew, to go sleepwithmepodcast.com. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for future episodes, e-mail me at [email protected]. If you prefer talking over typing, you can leave Doug a voicemail; 757-541-8471. For more information about the show and where you can find us, check out our show notes, quickanddirtytips.com. Special thanks to the Quick and Dirty Tips team.
You got Adam Cecil — ooh, that’s a familiar name there — audience development and podcast manager, Morgan Christianson, podcast and advertising operations specialist, Holly Hutchings, and our digital operation specialist, Davina Tomlin. Marketing and publicity assistant and our trust intern, Brendan Picha or Brendan Picha. Curious State is hosted and produced by me, Doug Frasier, or Doug; not me…as part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network which is a division of MacMillan Publishers and Mignon Fogarty Inc. Until next time, stay curious. But I’m still curious, ‘cause we got a few more minutes here. So, I’m just going through the transcript again, of…I knew we had that hay ride. There was something else, though. Going to podcast meetups…that poor guy…anything else I wanted to describe in there?
I can’t think of it. Structure of something, just out of focus…oh, this…taking off your work jacket. I think we covered that. I apologize to Mr. Roger’s neighborhood that I totally forgot. I don’t know, that’s where I talk about the listeners’ trust, like when people first listen, that it’s like okay, I’m gonna list…and I guess that’s where I understand the feedback I get from people that are never gonna listen to the show again when their mind is kinda blown because the podcast is so different than what they expected. But I do try to spend a lot of time and even trying to figure out lately…this is early summer 2022, of like, how…what other ways can I do to get across some of the essential information of the podcast early so that people can stop listening?
Or they say oh, okay, I will give this a try; there is no pressure for me to like the show or to fall asleep…I think is the key to the show, I think the key to everything, just like when for me, at least, someone says hey, I want to play you this song, a lot of times it’s like that for me, because I’m not the greatest person in the world, it sets me up to dislike the song because I know they like it and they want me to like it, right? So, then I say well, do we have to listen to it right…can’t I just listen to it later when I’m alone or something? ‘Cause that’s a lot of pressure on me. I don’t know, that’s one of the things with the show, is I say hey, no pressure to like the show or to fall asleep, but give it a try and know that your expectations may get in the way of things, because not…this show doesn’t really defy expectations; it…or exceed them or…it’s…goes under the…it meanders around expectations, I guess.
That’s definitely hard to get across. But also, the respect I have for people that do take that risk and say okay, I’ll give it a try anyway either out of desperation or willingness or hey, I’ll give it a shot; one of my friends recommended it, and that it does take two or three tries for a lot of people. Yeah. Okay, so we did toy catalogs…oh, some people love it and then some people are like yeah, don’t put that…again, I’ve learned that to kinda separate episodes. Like, the Ray episodes come out three or four times a year, catalog ones four…three or four times a year. I’m trying to think what other ones…Tale of the Tape come out once or twice a year. What other recurring style…?
That kinda goes to…oh, this is if you’re listening and…is why the episodes have a certain rhythm, is…or…so, we have a very set release schedule which may, when you’re listening to this, have changed again as I was working on something, that when I’m recording, this isn’t a actual, finalized…but it’ll help with…a lot of it comes down to keeping the podcast coming out twice a week, where we used to be at three times a week. But it was at three times a week where I found the majority of listeners need variety, because…and the reason they need it is because then that’s…that gives you permission to not like every episode, right, and some reassurance that the rhythm of the episodes is changing, but it’s…comes at a rhythm, too, which is…we have three styles, the shows we make.
We have the TV style recap show, we have random Tuesday…we call them Trending Tuesday episodes, but it’s like a potpourri style, which is like some of those ones I listed or just a random, single bedtime story unrelated to anything else, or an occasional series like Purple People Circus or something that’s not a series but occasional recurring characters. Then we have a written series that runs for a season of…somewhere between ten and twelve episodes, and…or a holiday series we do sometimes for a certain number of episodes. The reason for that is one, it creates a constant variety, it plays to some of Sleep With Me’s strengths which is variety but also whether it’s the TV shows that have some recurring characters or some other form of familiarity, and the written series are the same way, recurring characters and familiarity.
Well, it doesn’t work for…it works for the majority of Sleep With Me listeners, but not every…not all of Sleep With Me listeners, right? But also, making the show is…takes…it’s a big investment and making just one kind of episode just wouldn’t be possible long-term for me. I guess if I did…the podcast became part of another company and there was…then I’d say oh, okay…oh, I’m only responsible to make twelve episodes a year, that would be different if other teams were like oh, I will make twelve episodes a year or whatever. But for me, that I’m responsible for most of the episodes every year, it means I need to draw from three different wells of creativity.
But at the same time, those wells support one…the other…the weird thing is, without the TV recap episodes, I wouldn’t have the time to really invest in listening and visually taking in other successful shows and performances and character development, which impacts the other two styles of shows in a positive way. If I’m watching a episode of Ted Lasso three or four times, or Great British Bake Off three or four times, it’s like oh, I can see how they are doing their stories and as a fan, enjoy it, or oh, how are they editing those segments at Great British Bake Off, or what colors are they using? That trickles into…that supports the success of the other two styles of shows.
The random Tuesday shows could become something recurring where we discover a character, or they just give me the freedom to kinda…if something comes up when I’m on a walk or I did something or I went on a trip or I observed something to be able to make a show about that, and while those shows take the least amount of preparation, those are the kinda shows I’m always preparing for. I have lists everywhere. But when it comes down to it, it’s like oh, okay, what’s the recording schedule look like this week? Okay, well, we need a Tuesday-style episode. We don’t…should we pick something from the listeners or something else you want to make? I don’t know. Okay, well, we’ll wait ‘til the day before, then, and decide. It could be like that.
Then the written episodes, again, writing supports the other storytelling you hear in the other episodes. Yeah, it makes the other episodes better. By me becoming a better meandering storyteller, I can just look at new…oh, how are we using this narrative voice? Oh, how many characters can we manage? Oh, how can we make this episodically modular? Oh, how do we make this serialized but with respect to the audience? Oh, how…should this one be more visual or more audio? How structured are the characters versus letting the listeners structure and create the characters? What are their relationships like? What do they want? Where are they going?
I don’t know. Then just seeing…especially when you stick with something for ten to twelve episodes, you can…you have to go…to make ten or twelve episodes means there’s gonna be a lot of ups and downs in the writing and creation process. But also it lets me see what’s missing, and when I’m listening to them, I say wait a second, this episode…these were more intellectual. I want…I see…I need something a little more emotional. So, then it informs the next thing I make, whether it’s whatever-style episode. When I say we could be doing something next, I am working on something, ‘cause again, I’m saying how…if Sleep With Me remains a independent podcast, how do I keep doing that into the future, both trying to find ways to support the show but also creatively keep it going?
So, I have looked at optioning seasons of something and fiction. I’m probably…by the time this comes out, we’ll be ready to announce it. Maybe not. So, I won’t say the name of the show, but we’re pretty far along with the optioning, three seasons of a fiction podcast that then I would be able to release so we’d have a four-show rhythm. I don’t know what that would look like, but it would probably be like a TV podcast, then the written series, then a Trending Tuesday-style one, and then this optioned series, which I would still voice and rewrite in the Sleep With Me style. We’ve done this a lot as one-offs, but that creates another creative well that I draw from, similar from the TV well, where it’s like a little bit more of…observational and it just is…I don’t know. Will it help us stay sustainable? I don’t know.
A lot of that comes also down to listeners, ‘cause it’s like, that does come with a much higher cost because when I do it myself, again, I can make those costs like there isn’t a cost. But that’s the other thing about staying the show…sustainable, why we cut back to three episodes and why we’re trying to explore, is like okay, is there listener support, who…people who support the sponsors or support the show on Patreon, which would be able to pay for this option of another show? Then again, okay, that would definitely help keep the podcast going much longer into the future, if that’s sustainable. Be like okay, what would be the next show we would option, or whatever?
But also to get…to highlight…the more exciting thing for me is to highlight other creators and their brilliant work and say oh, I need to listen to that podcast during the day, the original one. Very similar to this crossover episode; this is why I love doing these ones. If you haven’t listened to the Curious State episode, go ahead and listen to it and then start listening to the…I mean, it’s a great podcast. You’re already in a curious state if you’re listening to Sleep With Me, but so, you could listen to my interview and then subscribe to the show. Doug’s just a wonderful, wonderful person. Really, he is someone…it’s not…he lives in that curious state, so it’s funny that that’s the name of the show, or I’m laughing ‘cause that’s…when I think of Doug, I say okay, that’s somebody that’s in the curious state. He’s curious about subjects and people and stuff. So, check out Curious State, and thanks so much for listening to the show. I really appreciate it. Goodnight.
[END OF RECORDING]
(Transcribed by Leah Hervoly)