TED: Helpful Talks on Writing and Creativity

I really love TED videos. Haven’t heard of TED? Let me fill you in with some background on TED and its mission (straight from their website):

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment, and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics—from science to business to global issues—in more than 100 languages.

While I listen to random TED videos with interesting topics all the time just because I love to learn, I also find that there are a ton of useful TED videos for writers that talk about writing and creativity. This is a list of some of the videos I found especially helpful towards developing the craft of writing and exploring ideas related to creativity, but there are tons more TED videos out there that are not just helpful for your craft, but can help you research topics you’re writing about.

Where does creativity hide?


Novelist Amy Tan digs deep into the creative process, looking for hints of how hers evolved.

Your elusive creative genius.


Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

Metaphorically speaking.


Aphorism enthusiast and author James Geary waxes on a fascinating fixture of human language: the metaphor. Friend of scribes from Aristotle to Elvis, metaphor can subtly influence the decisions we make, Geary says.

Adventures in Twitter.


In the 1930s, broadcast radio introduced an entirely new form of storytelling; today, micro-blogging platforms like Twitter are changing the scene again. Andrew Fitzgerald takes a look at the (aptly) short but fascinating history of new forms of creative experimentation in fiction and storytelling.

How a boy became an artist.


When Jarrett J. Krosoczka was a kid, he didn’t play sports, but he loved art. He paints the funny and touching story of a little boy who pursued a simple passion: to draw and write stories. With the help of a supporting cast of family and teachers, our protagonist grew up to become the successful creator of beloved children’s book characters, and a vocal advocate for arts education.

How to build fictional world.

Why is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy so compelling? How about The Matrix or Harry Potter? What makes these disparate worlds come alive are clear, consistent rules for how people, societies — and even the laws of physics — function in these fictional universes. Author Kate Messner offers a few tricks for you, too, to create a world worth exploring in your own words.

Become a slam poet in five steps.

With enough passion and practice, becoming a slam poet is within your reach. Explore a distant memory on paper, then read it out loud. Edit. Try reading it out loud again, and add your finishing touches. Gayle Danley offers five steps to being a slam poet — while being downright poetic in the process.

TED also has a great playlist full of videos that talk about crafting a story. TED also has an ed portion of videos that focus on things like the use of the oxford comma, along with other technical concerns when it comes to writing. If you’ve gone through all of these videos and you want more, I recommend starting there.

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