5 TED Talks Writers Must Watch image

So you’re a writer? That probably means that you already know quite a bit about writing.

But there’s always more to learn, right?

What if you could take a break from your writing, sit back, relax and sip your coffee, or tea….or even a glass of wine and listen to some of the most inspiring ideas and thoughts on writing, creativity, books and more.

That’s where TED talks come in.

Now everyone has heard of these bite-sized, inspiring, thought-provoking videos that have gained popularity over the years.

And if you haven’t tuned in yet, then its time you experienced it first-hand.

From over 2,000 videos to choose from on TED, here we have selected the five most inspiring and informative talks for writers.

1. Elizabeth Gilbert – Success, Failure and a Drive to Keep Creating

Duration: 8 minutes

Author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert acknowledges the success of her novel and how she was destined to fail with her next project as nothing would measure up to Eat, Pray, Love for her readers.

She knew she had to find inspiration to survive her creativity.

She discusses finding inspiration from lessons learned earlier in life when her work was rejected time and again.

Elizabeth reflects on the unlikely psychological connections in the way we experience success and failure.

And although success can be as disorienting as failure, Gilbert offers a simple way to carry on regardless of the outcomes.

2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Danger of a Single Story

Duration: 9 minutes

An inspiring talk by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, where she discusses the dangers of listening or reading only a single story about a person or country.

Our skewed perceptions as a result of this can lead to misunderstandings, and the “single story” becomes how we see the different cultures and places.

She talks about how she was criticized for being “authentically African” and how she battled against dominant western cultural narratives and stereotypes to discover her unique literary voice.

Her talk stresses the importance of reading diversely, exploring cultural similarities and differences and developing a well-informed understanding of our world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an author who explores Nigerian culture and history to find inspiration for her diaspora novels and literature.

3. Andrew Stanton – The Clues to a Great Story

Duration: 20 Minutes

Andrew Stanton is a screenwriter and director responsible for box-office hits like Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, and Toy Story.

In this TED talk, he shares all he knows about storytelling and how he learned about storytelling.

He reveals fundamental secrets of storytelling with the help of movie scenes. He talks about the importance of making a promise to the audience that the story is worth their time, about making them care and about understanding that the audience wants to put “things together” — and it’s not for storytellers to provide the solution.

This TED Talk contains graphic language but is a poignant reminder that stories are about us and about capturing the truth of our experiences.

4. Susan Cain – Power of Introverts

Duration: 19 Minutes

Susan Cain is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In this TED Talk, she delivers an important message that follows the same theme of her book – that introverts are “pretty excellent.”

Susan opens the talk about a hilarious episode in her life which involves reading and summer camp.

She presents examples of transformative leaders in history who were introverts and explores the transitional view of the world as it values extroverts over introverts.

But Susan explains that introverts are a valuable asset and should be encouraged to be who they are.

5. Steven Johnson – Where good ideas come from

Duration: 18 Minutes

Steven Johnson is the author of the bestselling Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. His work on the history of innovation inspired the Emmy-nominated six-part series on PBS, How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson.

In this talk, Johnson takes us on a tour of London’s coffee houses as the seat of enlightenment and from which Johnson begins his quest to find out where good ideas come from.

People often believe that ideas are a flash of inspiration credited to an individual “Eureka” moment.

But Johnson shows us that history tells us differently. He recounts examples of innovation and ideas from Newton’s theory of gravity, Darwin’s idea for the theory of natural selection to the idea that sparked the invention of the GPS.


If these TED talks have moved you, then go and experience what other speakers have to say.

The TED Talks repository is full of stimulating ideas from which you can learn and get inspired to write better.