Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Life as a Writer

David Baldacci

Lesson time 16:23 min

David opens up about his journey as a writer, talking about passion, rejection, and how to stay authentic.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Perseverance Is Key • Learn From Rejection • Make Big Decisions Carefully • Reinvent Yourself Constantly • Stay True to the Story You Want to Tell • Stay Focused in All Aspects of Your Life • Never Lose the Thrill • Constantly Fill Your Well of Ideas


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I had something that happened to me that I think really motivated me to actually go out and write my very first novel, which turned out to be "Absolute Power." I was a lawyer. I had to fly up to Islip, New York. We had a client who was buying some banks. So I was there with a team of young lawyers, and we were reviewing bank ground leases. If you have trouble sleeping, do that and you will, like, pass out in 10 seconds. It's the most boring work on Earth. And I had written a script back then-- early '90s. It was like "Die Hard" in the White House. This was long before the other films that came out a few years ago-- "Olympus Falls" and all that stuff. And this was, like, a super hot script. My agent in LA said, Universal, and Warner Brothers, and Paramount, and 20th Century Fox, they're all over this stuff. The coverage is great. There's going to be a big bidding war. And this is going to really start your career as a screenwriter. So I'm up in New York, looking at these ground leases, thinking, please, God, let that happen. And around midnight-- midnight that night, when I was back at my hotel-- it was 9:00 on the west coast and I got a call from my agent that said, you know, Warner Brothers passed on it. And so the-- the sort of the cow mentality out there-- all the other studios said, well, there must be something wrong with the script if Warner's passed on it, so everybody passed on it. I'm really sorry. And I remember that night at midnight looking out the window of my hotel in Islip, New York, thinking, maybe this is not going to happen for me. You know, I've been working all these years writing. Maybe I'm never going to get the break. I'm never going to be in the right place at the right time. And so maybe it's just not going to happen for me. And I could have stopped at that point and just gone on and had a really nice career as a lawyer, had a nice family, you know, been a grandfather, and that would have been my life. But I made a decision shortly thereafter that, like, you know what? I love writing so much that I'm just going to-- one, I can't lose it out of my life. It would, like, rip a part of my vital being away. And two, I'm just going to prove these people wrong. I'm really going to be able to do this. I'm going to build a career. And that's when I started writing "Absolute Power." It took me three years to write that novel. I was working full-time. And every night, I'd run downstairs to my cubby and I wrote that novel. And at the end of three years, I sent it out. And that really changed my whole life. I could've made a decision after that fiasco with the script to say, goodbye. I'm done. I'm not going to do this anymore. But I kept going because I couldn't not write. It was such a huge part of my life. And that's why I really think that people who are meant to be writers will actually be accomplished writers because they can't stop. If one rejection knocks you out, then I don't think you...

About the Instructor

David Baldacci has captivated readers across the world with gripping, suspense-fueled thrillers. Now the New York Times–bestselling author of 38 novels shares his techniques for crafting authentic characters, developing research-based plots, and navigating the world of publishing. Learn how to write a novel with red herrings, clues, and plot twists that will keep your readers turning the pages.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

David Baldacci

In his MasterClass, bestselling thriller author David Baldacci teaches you how he fuses mystery and suspense to create pulse-pounding action.

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