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Great TED Talks

TED Talks provide a wealth of information on hundreds of subjects, from psychology to business to science and everything in between. They're an opportunity for influencers in an industry to speak about a topic, often leaving the audience feeling inspired. Writers are particularly eager for inspiration, and TED Talks can be the perfect source, offering a great mix of practical advice and raw ideas.

We've put together a list of the eight best TED Talks for writers, which you can turn to whenever you need a bit of inspiration.

1. My Year of Saying Yes to Everything | Shonda Rhimes

A self-described titan, Shonda Rhimes is responsible for four television programs, seventy hours of TV, and three or four shows in production at a time. She spends her life creating and producing stories that are heard all over the world. This is her dream job, but what happens when she feels her creative wells dry up? As writers, we know that it can be hard to climb out of a rut or break through writer's block. Follow Shonda through her year of saying "yes" and learn how she rediscovered her love for her work.

2. The Clues to a Great Story | Andrew Stanton

Andrew Stanton is a screenwriter and director responsible for box-office hits like Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, and Toy Story. In his TED Talk, he reveals his secrets to storytelling: make your audience care and make them "work for their meal," or analyze, deduce, and question the story as they go.

Warning: This video contains graphic language.

3. Your Elusive Creative Genius | Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, delivered the ultimate TED Talk for writers. In it, she reflects on the weight of her own success and how history has affected our view of creativity. More specifically, she talks about the stress it puts on writers and artists. This funny, personal talk is sure to leave you inspired.

4. The Mystery Box | J.J. Abrams

Why do we, as humans, like mystery? J.J. Abrams, creator of the television series Lost, explains where his love of mystery began and why we desire to "open the mystery box." In the process, he gives great insight into his creative process and what he considers essential to a good story.

5. Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator | Tim Urban

Ah, procrastination: a struggle almost everyone can relate to, especially writers. Tim Urban, blogger on Wait But Why, describes the mind of a master procrastinator, using humor as only he can. We all know that procrastination doesn't make sense, so why do we do it? This hilarious speech comes to an insightful ending worth waiting for.

6. The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers | Adam Grant

Adam Grant, a Wharton School professor at the University of Pennsylvania, needed to know what made original thinkers, well, original. How do they get so successful, and what do they have in common? In the process, he found three surprising habits of original thinkers, which he shares in this insightful speech.

7. The Power of Introverts | Susan Cain

In this TED Talk, Susan Cain delivers an important message, one that many writers need to hear: introverts should be encouraged to be who they are. In a world that is tailored to extroverts, introverts are overlooked. Cain explains why introverts are a valuable asset and how they influence society for the better. If you have been called "too quiet," "too shy," or "antisocial," this TED Talk can help you gain confidence in your unique strengths.

8. The Danger of a Single Story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie uses this TED Talk to warn us about the danger of a single story. If we have only a limited knowledge—have heard only a single story—about a culture or a place, our perception of it is skewed and incomplete. There is hope, however, and this hope comes from writers, who continue to share their stories and punch holes in the walls that divide us culturally. Writers are so important because the more stories are told about a culture or a place, the more people are able to develop a well-rounded understanding of it in their minds.


Writing is an art form; it is the creation of worlds and the collection of stories that bridge cultures and break down barriers. Some writers are introverts, and some (okay, most) are procrastinators. All writers, however, have "dream jobs," as they strive to translate the ideas they dream up into a written work that can be shared with others. This is a serious business, and we hope this list of the best TED Talks for writers will inspire you to keep dreaming and keep writing.


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