7 Ted Talks every writer needs to watch (and you don’t even have to leave your pillow fort)

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golden retriever in a pillow fort

Talk isn’t cheap when these creatives take to the TED stage. So watch and listen and let them inspire you to become a better storyteller.

#1 Chimamanda Adichie – The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Adichie talks about how impressionable we are in the face of stories and how hearing only one story about another place or culture or person leads to misunderstanding. I feel like everyone in the world – especially those in power need to listen to this one.

“So that is how we create a single story. Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again and that is what they become.”

#2 Elizabeth Gilbert – Your Elusive Creative Genius

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the expectations placed on creatives and shares the radical idea that perhaps the Greeks and Romans weren’t too far off the mark with their beliefs in the sources of inspiration. It’s thought provoking and funny and anyone who has ever created anything, whether you believe in something else or not, should watch it.

“For the first time in history, you start hearing people referring to this artist or that artist as being a genius rather than having a genius. And I gotta tell ya – I think that was a huge error. I think that allowing somebody, like one mere person to believe that he or she, is like the vessel, you know like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery, is just like, a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile human’s physche.”

Make sure you also check out her other Ted Talk, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating.

#3 Julian Friedmann, The Mystery of Storytelling

Literary agent Julian Friedmann has worked with writers for over forty years and believes that the key to good storytelling is about understanding that the story is more about the audience than anything else.

“I think we need to start by looking at a really important question which is why is it [storytelling] so difficult? And the answer is partly because you’ve got to remember the story is much more about the audience than it is about the characters or the plot, and it’s much more about the audience than it is the storyteller.”

#4 Isabel Allande, Tales of Passion

Best selling author Isabel Allende discusses the importance of having passionate characters in stories because it’s heart that drives and determines our fate.

“I am a storyteller. I want to convey something that is truer than true about our common humanity.”

#5 Markus Zusak, The Failurist

Writer’s thrive on misery and they love every minute of it according to Markus Zusak. In this talk, the internationally best selling author explains how that’s a good thing because failure can often lead to our greatest success – and that success, in turn, becomes more meaningful because of our failure.

“Every success I’ve ever had has been wrapped up in a gift box of failure. And, it just seems fitting because, when you think about it, it wasn’t a great political leader or mathematician or scientist who said, ‘Fail again. Fail better.’ It was Samuel Beckett, one of the great writers in the writing pantheon.”

#6 Andrew Stanton, The Clues to a Great Story

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton shares what he knows about storytelling – and after seeing his movies Toy Story and WALL-E it’s clear he’s got a lot to teach us.

“Storytelling is joke telling. It’s knowing your punchline, your ending. It’s knowing that everything you’re saying from the first sentence to the last is leading to a singular goal and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understanding of who we are as human beings. We all love stories, we’re born for them.”

#7 Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

Even though it’s not a Ted Talk, I had to share Neil Gaiman’s 2012 address to the graduating class at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. I mean, it was so good they even made it into a book.

“When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.”

Have you seen or heard any inspirational talks online you think other writers need to hear? Let us know and post links in the comments.

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