Tag: writing

The 9 Most Inspiring TED Talks for Novice (and Expert) Writers

Top 9 Most Inspirational TED Talks for Writers

 

1. How to write a story

by John Dufresne

American author and writing teacher, John Dufresne talks about the essence of storytelling. What I love the most about this talk is that Dufresne (I was about to call him John but I corrected my mistake), explains the intricacies of how to write a story by telling a story himself. His talk is amazing, moving and inspiring talk.

”Stories aren’t written are rewritten.”
—John Dufresne

 

2. The mystery of storytelling

by Julian Friedmann

Mr. Friedmann, who enjoys introducing himself as an agent giving literary advice, gives a very humorous talk about storytelling and writing entertaining stories.

”The story is much more about the audience than it is about the storyteller.”
—Julian Friedmann

 

3. How to write an award-winning bestselling first novel

by Nathan Filer

Nathan Filer is an awarded British writer (The Shock of the Fall). He offers some actionable and realistic steps to write a successful novel.

Do you want to abridge version? I’ll give it to you, but do watch the talk, it’s worth every minute. Here it goes:

  • Have specific goals
  • Make sure your goals are achievable
  • Be prepared to fail
  • Base your affirmations on fact
  • Be flexible in how you get there
  • Take responsibility
  • Focus on what you can control

“Being a writer is always a work in progress”
—Nathan Filer

 

4. Why I Write about Elves

by Terry Brooks

If you are into epic fantasy fiction, no doubt you have read Terry Brooks. Listen to him talk about using writing to explore the questions that trouble the writer.

“Every time I sit down to begin another book, or I sit down to continue a book or I sit down to write, it’s exciting to know that I get a chance to look at something dressed up in different clothes, and find a way to make it come alive in a different way. And that’s the thing that keeps me doing this and that’s why I write about elves because I find the answers to life’s mysteries in that fashion.”
—Terry Brooks

 

5. Why you should write

by Misan Sagay

Ok, enough about white men delivering wisdom, let’s switch it up. Misan Sagay is an Anglo-Nigerian screenwriter that talks about blackness, storytelling, female leads and filmmaking. All the things that we need more of.

“What story do you have to tell? Because your story will also never be made unless you choose to put it out there.”
—Misan Sagay

 

6. Writing your future, revising your past, moving forward

by Yvonne Battle-Felton

Yvonne Battle-Felton is “a mother, a writer, a sister, a teacher, an associate professor” and much more. Battle-Felton talks about all this and about finding oneself on our stories and telling our own story.

“Claim your story before somebody else does.”
—Yvonne Battle-Felton

 

7. Writing as an act of tribute

by Briony Goffin

Briony Goffin is a writer and teacher who talks about writing from our own experience and historical roots.

“As writers, by paying attention to the details of a given moment—remembered or imagined—we are allowing ourselves and our writing to come into definition.”
—Briony Goffin

 

8. Faith and the Writer: When Life Meets Art

by Dinah Lenney

Dinah Lenney, an american actress and writer, declares to being “spiritually challenged” and sees writing as confessions, and guilt as the needed catalysts for writers.

“What do [writers] want? As with any relationship, we want to be known we want to see our selves reflected. We want answers, sure, but if we can’t have answers at least we want to know that other people are asking the same questions.”
—Dinah Lenney

 

9. Why you will fail to have a great career

by Larry Smith

Ok, so this talk is not specifically about writing, but it is about pursuing a passion and having a great career. Larry Smith is a professor of economics and a great speaker, persuasive and motivating. Smith gives us all a kick in the butt, to shake us into action and to give us that extra push we need to beat our insecurities.

You know what you are. You’re afraid to pursue your passion. You’re afraid to look ridiculous. You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you may fail. […] And that’s why you’re not going to have a great career. […] Unless…
Unless.
—Larry Smith

 

End notes

I hope you enjoyed this list. I watched about a hundred TED talks about writing so I don’t think I will write about any TED talk any time soon. I really enjoyed the talks but I’ve OD’d on TED now.

So, what do you think about the talks above? And tell me, did I miss any good one?

Extra Credit

In the selected list above women outweighed men 5 to 4 (The future is female my coworkers say. And I agree.) Do you think there are differences between the two groups? Are there common threads between them? Do they focus on similar or different topics?

What do you think? Does writing have a gender?

John Scalzi on treating writing as a business

This one is an oldie but goodie:

Writing is a business. Act like it.

“Every writer who writes for pay is running a small business. You have to create product, track inventory, bid on work, negotiate contracts, pay creditors, make sure you get paid and deal with taxes. Work has to be done on time and to specification. Your business reputation will help you get work — or will make sure you don’t get any more. This is your job. This is your business.”
Unasked-For Advice to New Writers About Money by John Scalzi

Traditional writers (or traditionally minded writers) might be less inclined to treat their art as a business. This might be because it is the job of the agent, the editor, and the publisher to take care of the business side of things.

The world of self-publishing, on the other hand, is very driven by authors that spend as much energy in writing as they do promoting. Many of those independent authors plan the business side of writing, even before they write the first sentence of their books.

In summary, act like a pro, if you want to be one.

John Scalzi

Write even when it feels uncomfortable, specially when it does

Here is a quote attributed 1 to the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky (“Solaris”, “Stalker”, “The Mirror”):

“An artist will never, ever have ideal conditions to create, so don’t ever expect them.”

Andrei Tarkovsky

Do you believe that you need ideal conditions to create?

I know I fall victim of that fallacy every now and then. Surprisingly, I also realized that the times when I feel less inspired, or less motivated to write, I end up with some really good ideas if I only force myself to just write.

By forcing yourself to write when it feels most uncomfortable, you will push against those barriers in your minds that block your progress. Use that resistance as creative juice and push forward.

Here is Tarkovsky’s full quote extracted from the documentary “A Poet in Cinema”:

“An artist never works under ideal conditions. If they existed, his work wouldn’t exist, for the artist doesn’t live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist. The artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.”
Andrei Tarkovsky


  1. via Simon Van Booy’s TED talk How To Write Your Novel In Under 20 minutes