Podcasts are many things to many people. For some, the podcast has become a source of motivation and inspiration, for others, a never-ending barrage of bullshit and self-help nonsense. Personally, I used to sit closer to the hate side of the spectrum until I learned to appreciate them. Granted, not all podcasts are created equal, and I still have an aversion to the stereotypical TED Talk, but I’ve discovered what works for me. Now I have a regular lineup of podcasts and audiobooks that I’ve incorporated into my daily routine, and I, annoyingly, can’t stop recommending them to the people around me. So, tag, you’re it!
So here’s the 411: The Audible app has a feature called Channels For Prime, which is free to Amazon Prime members. For those that aren’t familiar, Audible is an app that stores and plays audiobooks on the go. You can also listen to episodes through the web player; It’s less user-friendly but gets the job done. As part of the service, Audible has also invested in a bunch of original series, and all of them are available for free if you log in with your Amazon account. Ever since I discovered this, I’ve been so fucking hooked! Not just because the series and channels are entertaining and informative, but also because they’re helping me with my writing. Sometimes inspiration and help comes in unusual formats, take it how it comes!
Masters of Fiction
Masters of Fiction is, hands down, my favorite Audible channel, and if you’re a fan of short fiction you’ll love it too. Every week a new batch of stories is published and the authors range from the classic to the modern. You’ll see stuff from authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and Charles Dickens, with the occasional contemporary piece. Each story is about half an hour to an hour long, so it’s best consumed in one sitting whenever possible. Listening to classic literature is great because it gives you an opportunity to consider language in an auditory way instead of strictly visual. The words resonate so much more when you can hear the alliteration, dialogue, and tone. Highly recommended for long walks and road trips!
The Genius Dialogues
What do an engineer, agriculturalist, and a chemist have in common? This isn’t the beginning of a bad joke, it’s just the lineup of guests on The Genius Dialogues. Hosted by writer and media journalist, Bob Garfield, the podcast features some of the smartest scientists, artists, and educators who have received the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship dubbed The Genius Grant. What’s most interesting about the grant is that you can’t apply for it; Fellows are selected based on their contributions to the betterment of humanity. This podcast has been great for character development because all of the guests have such unique backgrounds, and listening to the (oftentimes) non-linear way they went about getting to where they are today is super interesting. It certainly makes you consider taking larger risks, or making unexpected decisions, when it comes to the characters you’re writing.
Much like Masters of Fiction, Alternate Reality brings you weekly narrated short stories. Updated every Friday, you can expect the most immersive sci-fi and fantasy short fiction, from the genre’s most popular authors. This one is particularly important to me because I’m most interested in learning to write compelling speculative fiction, so listening to how the classics in the genre did/do it is extremely helpful. These stories tend to be more plot-driven, so listening for the different ways that authors reveal plot is particularly helpful, and the stories are all so compelling! It’s a reminder that even if a particular story has been done to death, there’s always a unique spin you can place on it to make it your own and make it transformative.
Where Should We Begin?
Once you start listening to Where Should We Begin it’ll be hard to put it on pause. Hosted by TED Talks sensation and best-selling author, Esther Perel, this podcast features a real-life couple’s therapy session in each episode. Since the couple’s identity is kept anonymous, it really gives them an opportunity to speak openly and honestly, something many of them haven’t been able to do for months, maybe even YEARS. Each couple is grappling with a different problem: infidelity, addiction issues, lack of intimacy, work/life balance, etc. Esther skillfully and tactfully walks them through the problem, helps them reframe how they’re thinking about it, and facilitates a dialogue between the pair. This podcast is most helpful for writers because it provides a mostly unedited look at real life conversations which help with writing real life dialogue.
Authorized: Love & Romance
I’m not even a fan of romance novels and I enjoyed listening to the Authorized podcast. Hosted by comedian, and journalist, Faith Salie, she immediately informs us that she wasn’t a romance fan either, but through this project, she was able to find an appreciation for the genre. She talks to a different romance novelist in each episode, and their conversations are informative and enlightening; It’s valuable to hear how the authors think of their work, the romance genre, and its fans. What I like most about this podcast is that it has gotten me to consider other types of novels. I often read the stuff that’s most entertaining to me, but there’s a lot to be gained by being well read across a broad spectrum of genres. And if I took anything away from these interviews, it’s that most of us have an inaccurate view of what romance really is (apparently it’s not all engorged members and heaving bosoms). At minimum, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the romance novel industry.