Chapter 28 of 30 from Shonda Rhimes

Life of a Writer


Writing is not just a profession; it is a way of life. Shonda discusses the issue of "work/life balance" and the physical and mental habits to survive a writer's life.

Topics include: Work/Life Balance • Belonging in the Room • Writing Every Day

Writing is not just a profession; it is a way of life. Shonda discusses the issue of "work/life balance" and the physical and mental habits to survive a writer's life.

Topics include: Work/Life Balance • Belonging in the Room • Writing Every Day

Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television

In 6+ hours of video lessons, Shonda teaches you her playbook for writing and creating hit television.

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Make Great Television

When Shonda Rhimes pitched Grey’s Anatomy she got so nervous she had to start over. Twice. Since then, she has created and produced TV’s biggest hits. In her class, Shonda teaches you how to create compelling characters, write a pilot, pitch your idea, and stand out in the writers’ room. You’ll also get original pilot scripts, pitch notes, and series bibles from her shows. Welcome to Shondaland.

Watch, listen, and learn as Shonda teaches you how to write, pitch, and create a hit TV show.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Shonda will also respond to select student questions.


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

Great insights on how the television industry works. Amazing to get instruction from a showrunner of Shonda's caliber. Hopefully, I will be able to do a masterclass myself some day. Thank you for this class!

Thanks for this great idea of MasterClass and thanks for bringing Shonda to teach not only about TV but about life, you are great ! Now I have the basic tools, the next is going to happen because of my feelings to be a better and complete person.

I really found Shonda's approach to writing really refreshing. I have taken numerous writing courses/workshops but this course really put the writing function into a practical method for expressing your ideas on the written page. THANK YOU SHONDA.

I was just about to sign up with another school and low and behold, I came across the great Rhimes' class! Pinching myself.



I liked all those bits about enjoying your accomplishments, but I have to disagree about the writing each day presented in that absolute way. I'm most definitely a writer and there isn't a day I'm not doing anything about my writing (rare holidays excluded), but I'm a block writer, I write continuously until my draft is finished and then there's times where I only do editing, plotting or marketing. So, I'm doing some writer related stuff 99% of the days but I'm not writing every day and it is something that just doesn't work for me. Doesn't make me any less of a writer.

Kara J.

Shonda has dubbed everyone who fancies putting pen to paper a writer. We can now carry on with our respective titles of Sir Writer, or Dame Writer.

Monya W.

I love this lesson, so glad I decided to take this class. I have learned and began to understand writing in a different light. Thank you for sharing and being so open. :-)

Phil H.

The clarification should be "If you want to be a professional writer, write every day." It's like Nanowrimo's 1667 words a day. That is the minimum if you wish to be a professional, quit your day job and only write. And even then, you might want to hang on to the day job for a bit. I have a friend who makes 1000,000 a year but she turns out the equivalent of 2 books a month. It takes work. Her favorite line is "I'm so glad I don't have a life. God, I need a PA."

Whitney W.

Very interesting that she says " you HAVE to write every day to be a writer" I know of some writers who don't write every day. However, maybe she's talking more along the lines of writer SOMETHING. I'm sure even for those writers who don't actually write their script every day but maybe work in sprints instead they are still creating and taking down ideas etc. In one of the other videos, she talked about the work will be there the next day. So, are people who prefer to block off large amounts of time once or twice a week to work on there writing not writers? It's very interesting to hear her opinion.

Jay H.

I loved this lesson. When she said if you don't write everything day you're not a writer, I disagreed that first. The more I thought about it, the more I believed it to be true of myself. I don't think if myself as a writer yet, because I don't write every day. I feel bad that I don't write every day. I am going to become a writer and write something daily. It's time to finish this project I've been working on for 10 years because I haven't made writing my priority.

Iana Z.

Thank you for bringing it up. Knowing that so many people feel the same way - really helps. :)

Hector V.

My daughter has a problem accepting compliments because she always feels that there's an ulterior motive behind it. Once you understand that you are the s**t! Ulterior motives, don't matter.

Ryan L.

My first book is being published in six months, and it still doesn't quite feel real that I get to say that. It really is a terrifying thing to throw such a huge part of yourself out into the world to be accepted or rejected, and I absolutely believe that anyone who can do it as much as Shonda needs to have an incredible amount of self-confidence that they shouldn't be afraid to display.

Ben A.

Being proud of your accomplishments is such an important lesson, and a hard thing to let yourself do. I'm glad you brought that up.


The sentence I don't like the most to hear from people is, I want to be a writer. You either are a writer or you're not a writer. You may not be a working writer, but you either are a writer or you're not a writer. It's like when people say I want to be a singer. Either you can sing or you can sing, right? You either be write or you don't. So to me it's just, you're a writer. Go write. Prove yourself to be a writer. Nobody has to pay you in order to write. You have to just find the time and do it. Even if you have like, five kids and you work a job, you can find 10 minutes a day to write something down. Really, you really can. And it doesn't have to be the greatest thing in the world. You don't have to be the most thrilled by it. But you have to be able to access your creative space even just 10 minutes a day for yourself, even if you're just waiting for people to like-- your kids, put them all in the bathtub and you write for 10 minutes a day. Or you're on the subway, you write for 10 minutes a day. Whatever it is, find yourself a little bit of time to write every single day. I'm sure there are excuses that are acceptable for not writing every day, absolutely. But once again, I say a writer is someone who writes every day. So if you're not going to write every day, then you cannot call yourself a writer. You just can't. And it's fine, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just, it's the idea that you need to make peace with that reality. You can decide that you're not going to write every day, and there is nothing wrong with not writing every day. But then don't run around and call yourself an aspiring writer, because if you really wanted to be a writer, that is what you would be doing. I don't think you ever find a work-life balance. And I think it's a falsehood to make anybody feel like they're supposed to find a work-life balance. There's no good way to be a great mother and to be great at your job at the same time and to feel like you are going to kill it at both and be amazing at both and never feel guilty about shirking one duty or another. Work-life balance is a lie that we are fed to make us feel bad about ourselves, I feel like. It doesn't exist. There are always going to be times when you feel like a terrible mother, and there are always going to be times when you feel like you're terrible at your job. That is just how it goes. Also for most women, going to work is not an option. So I always feel like this how do you achieve work-life balance thing is really disingenuous. Most women have to go to work to feed their families, to pay their bills. I am fortunate that I have a great job and I'm excited, but most women have to go to work to feed their families and pay their bills. So I wouldn't suggest that it's sort of like a work-life balance thing is a choice, it's not a choice. You h...