Jan 29, 2021 • 46M

Episode 248 Mental #Chatter with Ethan Kross: Harnessing the voices in our heads for good

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

Our guest today, Ethan Kross, is one of the world’s leading experts on controlling the conscious mind. His new book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters and How to Harness it, sits at that enviable intersection between academic and commercial nonfiction, and in a way that seems to be exactly where Ethan himself—who teaches in both the business school and the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan—sits, right there in the place where all kinds of things intersect, doing research into the ways our mysterious selves affect the ways we behave on the inside and on the outside.

We talked to Ethan about what we call “writer chatter”—those voices in our head that tell us we’re not good enough, smart enough, anything enough to write the things we want to write, and then we branched off into his experience transitioning from academic writing to writing for a wider audience and what his inner voices had to say about that. In the end, Ethan reminded us that we don’t want to live without our inner voices—we need them in many ways—but we do want to shift those voices to our most positive “station.” His tips for doing that—using treasured objects and lucky charms, reminders of the ways we’ve been down this road before and encouraging the power of our own optimism—are going to help us get our inner chatterboxes on the right track.


Ethan: A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Eat a Peach by David Chang

Sarina: A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore

KJ: Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

We hope you’ve heard Jess waxing rhapsodic about learning all the things over at The Great Courses Plus. Goodness knows what she’s learning about today….small business accounting? The Pacific Theater in WWII? Anything’s possible, because…Jess. If you’d like to learn something new today, you can get a free month of The Great Courses Plus at thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting.

And I—KJ—spent an hour on Zoom this week with a pack of excited alums from Author Accelerator’s book coaching course, and it was so much fun to hear a little about their plans and talk about the ways being coached has helped me—immeasurably—with my fiction. If becoming a book coach has been niggling around the corners of your brain, poking you and demanding that you give it some thought, head to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to learn more.