10 Fascinating TED Talks by Writers


My recent post listing TED Talks about books was one of the most popular I’ve ever written. I try not to let that hurt my feelings since it didn’t contain much of my own written material!

What that tells me though, is that my intuition was spot on with that idea. People obviously love TED Talks and books, so I did some research to come up with more bookish talks. Some of my favorites are on this list, so I hope you enjoy and learn something too!

Your Elusive Creative Genius – Elizabeth Gilbert

Liz Gilbert is one of my personal gurus, so it won’t come as a surprise that this is my favorite TED Talk ever. What she talks about here is the foundation for her book Big Magic, which has had a huge impact on the way I choose to live a creative life.


Confessions of a Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay

I love the essay Gay references in this talk because it resonates with me strongly. (I too consider myself a strong, independent woman, AND I prefer my husband mow the lawn and change the oil in the car.) What’s clear in this talk is why I enjoy Gay’s writing so much, even when I don’t agree with her: she is bold and unapologetic in her opinions in her writing. I know that’s tough to do as a writer and as a woman.


The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I saw this talk for the first time in a writing class several years ago. I re-watch it occasionally (particularly when I feel stuck with my writing) as a reminder to stay true to myself and my voice.


Finding the Story Inside the Painting – Tracy Chevalier

A writer of historical fiction, here Chevalier talks about how she looks at paintings and imagines the stories behind them.  She shares stories inspired by portraits, including the one that led to her novel Girl With a Pearl Earring.


What Fear Can Teach Us – Karen Thompson Walker

Here, fiction writer Walker tells the story of the whaeship Essex to demonstrate how fear propels imagination.


The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain

Non-Fiction writer Cain is best known for her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Here she explains how the world tends to cater to extroverts, and offers thoughts on why introverts are valuable to our society, and how they can thrive.


My Year of Living Biblically – AJ Jacobs

Journalist and non-fiction author Jacobs lived a year of his life taking the rules of the Bible as literally as possible. Here he recounts that time, and reflects on the positive and negative aspects of such an undertaking.


On Humanity – Chris Abani

A poet and novelist, Abani was imprisoned three times by the Nigerian government for his political prose.  Here, he explores the importance of compassion in human societies and relationships.


Where is Home – Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer is a travel writer who considers himself to have multiple “origins.” Here he contemplates the meaning of home in our society where people travel more than ever, and many live in lands that are not their original home land.


Where Does Creativity Hide? – Amy Tan

In this talk, acclaimed novelist Amy Tan seeks to answer the question, how can something come from nothing in regard to creativity. She explores her own creative process, wondering how it has evolved to what it is today.


I know there are many more TED Talks by writers out there. What are your favorites?

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