Chapter 11 of 30 from Shonda Rhimes

Writing a Script: Effective Habits


Writer's block? No time? Shonda breaks through the myths of writing and details how exactly she gets her writing done.

Topics include: The Creative Process • Shonda's Writing Tools • Schedules and Deadlines • Writer's Block

Writer's block? No time? Shonda breaks through the myths of writing and details how exactly she gets her writing done.

Topics include: The Creative Process • Shonda's Writing Tools • Schedules and Deadlines • Writer's Block

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.

Learn More


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.

Beyond educational. A must of you are crazy enough to go this route as a first, second or third career choice.

Fascinating and so helpful. Will be watching again.

Very informative. Lots of notes taken. Only thing is I feel like maybe the videos should be longer. Or at least that is what I expected.

One of my favorite master classes ever. I wasn't sure what to expect but Shondra's teaching style and honesty was truly fantastic! Would recommend to anyone in the industry, not just writers.


Mary Louise D.

I have never had writers block - have been writing in one form or another since I was 8 (wrote a novel at 8, toured on poetry I wrote 9-11, ....) But I do a lot of editing to get me in the mood and into the voice when I start a session, and then I am transported into a world/the world of the current story. If I don't know what is next it means I haven't researched enough. Anyway, I was intrigued when Shonda said what she did about not believing in writer's block. I agree!

Jonathan S.

ON WRITER'S BLOCK There's a great discussion between John Lescroart and John McHugh here: Near the end they discuss writer's block. But I can save you some time: quit bellyachin' and do your freakin' job. Write! Here are some quotes: I think actually the essence of writer's block is trying to edit while you write. [If somebody says they have writer's block] Well, you know right away they've never been a reporter, but number two, all you have to do if you have writer's block is write one true sentence. And if that doesn't lead you to someplace else, then you're not a writer. So if you came in, let's say, to the sports department and said, "Boss, I'm just not feeling it today." (Holds up a fist.) He'd say, "Would you like to feel this?" Then you're motivated. You can't say, "Oh, I wonder if today I'm going to really write great prose," you know? As it turned out yesterday I did write great prose. Two days ago I wrote awful pros. But you know what? By the time I'm done, and I rewrite them, I don't think I'm gonna be able to tell the difference between the day that felt awful and the day that felt good.

Gilda B.

I love the runner/writer analogy. Thanks, for all of the great writing tips, Ms. Rhimes.

Michael R.

Even though I'm passionate about becoming a TV writer, I actually have never been to film school. So to hear Shonda Rhimes, one of the most successful writers in Television, say that "not going to film school can work for somebody" is something I find incredibly uplifting & inspiring. Especially since I do all of my learning from videos online. Good stuff!

Monya W.

I have to have my headphones in order to write. If I don't have them it is harder for me to focus on my writing.

A fellow student

I love writing in my hammock and I use earplugs. I like the headphone theory in regards to preoccupying that part of the brain that can be distracting. This is a fantastic Masterclass!

Hubert G.

This lesson resonated with me. I am a former sprinter, and my first book is about sprinting (LOL). I also don’t have writer’s block. My second book, Revenge of the Yellow Yams, came out of an idea during a lunch break. My third and fourth books are being written simultaneously. It’s nice to know that I am in good company. Thank you very much, Ms. Rhimes.

DeShauna D.

For my schedule, I'm thinking: two hours of writing my future script, an hour of writing my book, and an hour of free time. How does that sound?


When I'm listening to Shonda's process I find I do some of the same things. When writing I say the dialogue out loud as well. Almost acting it out. I also tend to work on a number of projects at once so when I get stuck I switch to something else and it helps.

Michael M.

I find the only time I really have writers block is when I haven't completed all the necessary steps to finish a project. For example I just finished a script where I had maybe 60% of the project outlined and a beat sheet, etc. Then I left the notebook with all that material at my inlaws who live in Mexico. But because I had ironed out all the kinks in that first 60% even without that notebook I wrote that part of the script in virtually no time. But my time I got to the end of what I had wrote in the notebook I hit a major wall and all of a sudden other things were more important than writing, and procastunation stuck his head in. Also when I don't write (or challenge myself) on a daily basis I have mild depression. I think it's my inner fight begging me to do what I was put here to do. Anyway long story but for me preparation is the ultimate key.


So to me, a lot of what writing is, is very much like being a runner. If you don't run every day, running is incredibly hard. Those muscles do not know what they're doing. If you exercise those muscles, those muscles have muscle memory. So if you run every day running becomes a lot easier, right? It's the same with writing. So to me I always have this idea of writing as being like there's a long hallway to the door, where when the door opens that's when I access the place where it is to just easily get to the creative space. Until I get to that door, I'm basically just sitting at my desk staring at the wall, feeling really bitter and sorry for myself. And to me, when I think of that hall, if you're jogging down that hall trying to get to that door, the hall is incredibly long and it's filled with candy and pictures of Idris Elba and phone calls I need to make and television shows I need to watch and times I need to sit around and feel sorry for myself. And then finally, you get to the door and it takes forever. But the more I go down that hall, the less interested I am in the food and the Idris and the phone calls and the pity. And I get to the door faster and faster and faster. Until now, because I do it every day and the muscle memory is really there at honed, I get to that door immediately. So it's not a big deal trying to get to the door anymore. Because like a runner, I'm like perfectly fit mentally in that sense as a writer. And it's the same as being a sprinter or something. I'm good to go. That's what it should be like for people. It should be that if you're exercising that muscle you can get there faster and faster. So the discipline actually has a point. It's helpful. [MUSIC PLAYING] I used to think that there was like a special magic golden hour in which I wrote better than any other time. But that time keeps changing, so I no longer think that that's true. It used to be that I wrote the best at night. It had to be midnight and everybody was asleep and the world felt silent. And now I wake up at 5:00 AM and I get a lot of writing done. But I also write really well in the middle of the day at the office. What's happened is really, is that I started writing while wearing headphones with music blasting in my ears. And now as long as I am wearing headphones with music blasting in my ears, I can write at any time of day, anywhere. Any place becomes my office as long as I have those headphones on. And that is the greatest gift I have given myself. Not purposely, but like some sort of Pavlovian animal, as long as I have headphones, on I can write. What I think is interesting about playing the music in my headphones, and this is just a theory I have, I have no idea if it's true. I think a lot of people think, oh, she listens to music and it inspires her in this way or that way. I don't think so. I think th...