37 Lectures Every Writer Should Listen To

Posted March 3, 2010

By Jessica Cortez

Seasoned writers and complete novices alike have a few things in common: a shared love of the written word and the need for the occasional word of advice, wisdom or motivation to keep them going. While writing is a creatively gratifying process, it can also be one riddled with dead ends, late nights and loads of frustration. Whether you are studying for a liberal arts degree, have a career in liberal arts, or writing for fun, here are a few lectures that will give writers young and old alike some tips on writing better, getting published and promoting their craft as much as possible.

Advice from Authors

There are few people more qualified to offer advice to writers than those who are authors themselves, and that’s just what these lectures do. Tune in to hear big names and critically acclaimed authors give their advice on writing.

  1. Advice from Stephen King: Take a look at this Q & A session with Stephen King to see what advice he has to offer young writers.
  2. Ray Bradbury on Writing: After getting a Pulitzer award for his contribution to writing, this video shows what author Bradbury has to say to new writers.
  3. Advice for young writers from Neil Gaiman: This short video offers some advice from the author of books like Stardust and Coraline.
  4. Joyce Carol Oates on Character: Here you’ll get some tips from Oates on building better characters into your writing.
  5. Vonnegut Advice: Short Stories: In this video you can hear and read Vonnegut’s now-classic advice on crafting a great short story.
  6. John Irving on the Writer’s Craft: Find out what Irving thinks about the writing world and the job of the writer in this video.
  7. Amy Tan on Creativity: In this TED lecture, author Amy Tan discusses the creative process and shares insights into how hers evolved and shaped her work.
  8. Gore Vidal on writing: Learn about the life of a writer through this lecture from 2009 featuring author Gore Vidal.

Improving Your Skills

No matter how good you get at writing, you’ll always need to keep honing your craft, and these videos offer sage advice on making your work better every day.

  1. The Craft of Science Fiction: Those who are looking to write better sci-fi novels should take a look at this lecture from MIT professor and author John Haldeman.
  2. Novel Writing Made Easy: Take a look at this lecture to get some pointers from a published author on how to shape your novel and get started.
  3. Easy Tips to Improve Your Writing: This short video will give you some basic ways you can start improving your writing today.
  4. Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language: Steven Pinker of MIT gives a lecture on the structure and meaning of language, something to strongly consider in your own writing.
  5. Get Me Rewrite: The Craft of Revision: Editing is just as much a part of the writing process as the writing itself, so learn how to revise well with help from this series of lectures.
  6. The Power of Place: When you’re writing for work how do you establish a sense of place? What does place even mean? This lecture from travel writer Tom Haines will ask you to think more carefully about place, space and time in life and in your work.
  7. Principles of Good Journalism: Taken from a conference held at Harvard, this lecture is intended for those working in journalism, but offers advice that can apply to anyone writing non-fiction.

Inspiration and Motivation

Whether you’re up against writer’s block or just want to get inspired to work on your next project, check out these excellent lectures on creativity, perspective and drive.

  1. Chris Abani on the stories of Africa: Poet Chris Abani shares how his personal, though sometimes unhappy experiences have influenced what and how he writes.
  2. The Story is Mightier Than the Data: For those who write non-fiction, this lecture will remind you that no amount of interesting data will engage people without a good story to go along with it.
  3. Doris Lessing: Here you can hear a speech by Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing about finding inspiration and insight in the everyday and the things we often overlook.
  4. Toni Morrison Talks About Her Motivation For Writing: Learn what drives author Morrison to create the works that have garnered her a Nobel Prize.
  5. Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity: This lecture will inspire you to embrace the genius that resides within you.
  6. Writing Fiction & Poetry: How to Generate Short Story Ideas: In this video, you’ll get some pointers on how you can better brainstorm when it comes to writing short stories.
  7. Creative Mind: The Writer as Creator: Robert Penn Warren, Pulitzer Prize winner and poet laureate, discusses how an artist finds truth in his or her own imagination.

Getting Published

Regardless of where you live Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Utah – most people write with the goal of being published in mind, so learn what it takes to make it in the writing business with a quick education from these lectures.

  1. Publishing Advice for Writers: Learn how to get your work out there and in print with some helpful tips found here.
  2. Advice From A Literary Agent: Who better to give advice on getting published than someone who helps writers with it for a living? Make sure to give this video a viewing if you’re working to get published.
  3. The Future of Publishing: Like many other industries rooted in formats that are now competing with the web, the publishing industry is working to change how they do things to keep up with new technology. Learn where the industry expects to be in the coming years from this lecture.
  4. How to Become a Writer: This short lecture will explain the qualities and abilities you’ll need to make it as a professional writer.
  5. Internet Marketing for Writers: Why wait for someone else to promote you when you can promote yourself? Check out this video to learn more about online marketing.
  6. Gaining Self-Confidence to Write & Publish a Book: As this video reiterates, you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh-darn it, your writing is good. Check it out for tips on building your confidence in the writing world.
  7. What Publishers Want You to Know About Getting Published: In this lecture, Professor Jane Maienschien explains the ins and outs of the publishing world.
  8. How to Get Published: Dr. Paul Christensen explains what writers need to do in order to get published through this short lecture.

Writing in Society

Learn what role writers and writing itself plays in society through the illuminating ideas presented in these lectures.

  1. Risky Writing and the Forces that Silence It: In this amazing panel discussion, you’ll hear about why many important, if often risky, books are silenced instead of accepted in today’s world.
  2. Dave Eggers’ Wish: Once Upon a School: Check out this video to hear Eggers talk about the importance of teaching a love of writing to young people.
  3. A Literary Education: Take a look at this lecture about the importance of providing people with access to and education about great literature.
  4. The Case for Books: Learn about the historical and current importance of the written word from Harvard President Robert Darnton in this video lecture.
  5. The Quality of the Written Word: In this lecture you’ll hear Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jack Harrison talk about the importance of good writing and its ability to change lives.
  6. Roy Blount Jr: Alphabet Juice: See what fun it can be to play with language and challenge its boundaries with this lecture on the work of Roy Blount Jr.
  7. The Unanticipated Pleasures of the Writing Life: Author Simon Winchester details some of the often undiscussed benefits of working as a writer in this lecture.

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