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10 Ted Talks to Inspire You to Start Your Novel

Juliana Rotich on Flickr [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Joni Di Placido

#1. Chip Kidd: Designing Books is No Laughing Matter

“My job was to ask this question: “What do the stories look like?””

Chip Kidd‘s hilarious and engaging talk on cover design is a must-watch for any indie author. Whether you’re briefing a designer, or designing your own book cover, it’s imperative that your cover tells the story you want to convey, and Kidd explains just how to do that.

Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.

Chip Kidd doesn’t judge books by their cover, he creates covers that embody the book — and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. In this deeply felt (and deeply hilarious) talk, he shares the art and the philosophy behind his cover designs.

#2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of A Single Story

“Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.”

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains the power of telling and sharing stories, and the importance of seeing those stories resonate around the world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

#3. Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

“Introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments.”

It can be challenging being a writer in a world that sometimes seems to demand more social media marketing and reader engagement than actual writing. Susan Cain makes the case for those who flourish in quieter environments and explains how she was able to harness her own creativity by embracing solitude and creating a more comfortable working space.

Susan Cain: The power of introverts

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

#4. Frank Warren: Half A Million Secrets

If you’re still looking for the spark to ignite your story, you might find inspiration over at postsecret.com, where hundreds of thousands of people anonymously mail their secrets in on the back of a postcard. New secrets are posted every Sunday and contain a wealth of potential writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing!

Frank Warren: Half a million secrets

“Secrets can take many forms — they can be shocking, or silly, or soulful.” Frank Warren, the founder of PostSecret.com, shares some of the half-million secrets that strangers have mailed him on postcards.

#5. Tina Seelig: The Little Risks You Can Take to Increase Your Luck

Stanford university professor and author Tina Seelig teaches entrepreneurship and she believes that we make our own luck by taking risks and opportunities. Her book has sold more than a million copies worldwide and she attributes her success to the risks she took along the way.

Tina Seelig: The little risks you can take to increase your luck

Luck is rarely a lightning strike, isolated and dramatic — it’s much more like the wind, blowing constantly. Catching more of it is easy but not obvious. In this insightful talk, Stanford engineering school professor Tina Seelig shares three unexpected ways to increase your luck — and your ability to see and seize opportunities.

#6. Adam Grant: The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

“Know that being quick to start but slow to finish can boost your creativity, that you can motivate yourself by doubting your ideas and embracing the fear of failing to try, and that you need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

If you like to wait until a deadline is looming to start any real work, then this one is for you! Adam Grant explains that procrastination can be a virtue for creativity and that some of our best ideas are unleashed when we free ourselves from constraint and allow exploration of multiple ideas and possibilities.

Adam Grant: The surprising habits of original thinkers

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure.

#7: Tracy Chevalier: Finding the Story Inside the Painting

“Our DNA tells us to tell stories.We tell stories all the time about everything, and I think we do it because the world is kind of a crazy, chaotic place, and sometimes stories, we’re trying to make sense of the world a little bit, trying to bring some order to it.”

When bestselling author Tracy Chevalier visits a gallery, she looks for stories amid the artwork. In this talk, she discusses three stories that took inspiration from portraits, and explains how she uses art to spark creativity.

Tracy Chevalier: Finding the story inside the painting

When Tracy Chevalier looks at paintings, she imagines the stories behind them: How did the painter meet his model? What would explain that look in her eye? Why is that man … blushing? She shares three stories inspired by portraits, including the one that led to her best-selling novel “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”

#8. Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion

“There’s a Jewish saying that I love.What is truer than truth? Answer: The story. I’m a storyteller. I want to convey something that is truer than truth about our common humanity.”

Isabel Allende is a Chilean author who weaves magical realism and Latin American mythology into her writing. In this talk, she explains how passion is the driving force behind her writing, and how she has channelled her passion for telling women’s stories into making positive change in the world. Warning: it’s a tough listen, but incredibly inspiring.

Isabel Allende: Tales of passion

Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, the definition of feminism — and, of course, passion — in this talk.

#9. Elif Shafak: The Politics of Fiction

“Fiction for me was less of an autobiographical manifestation than a transcendental journey into other lives, other possibilities.”

How many authors use fiction to transcend their own identities and explore other worlds and realities? Elif Shafak pushes back against the expectation that you should write only what you know, and encourages writers to explore what they most want to write.

Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction

Listening to stories widens the imagination; telling them lets us leap over cultural walls, embrace different experiences, feel what others feel. Elif Shafak builds on this simple idea to argue that fiction can overcome identity politics.

#10. Bel Pesce: 5 Ways To Kill Your Dreams

“When we think about the dreams we have, and the dent we want to leave in the universe, it is striking to see how big of an overlap there is between the dreams that we have, and projects that never happen.

This talk by Brazilian author Bel Pesce focuses on creating your own success in business. She urges listeners not to stand in their own way and to follow through on the dreams they have in order to create the reality they want.

Bel Pesce: 5 ways to kill your dreams

All of us want to invent that game-changing product, launch that successful company, write that best-selling book. And yet so few of us actually do it. TED Fellow and Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce breaks down five easy-to-believe myths that ensure your dream projects will never come to fruition.


2 Responses to “10 Ted Talks to Inspire You to Start Your Novel”

    • kobowritinglife

      Yes! Thank you! That one could definitely be on the list too. Thank you so much for sharing!
      – Joni


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