Shonda Rhimes on Saying Yes to Everything

One of the best books I’ve read this year — indeed, in a while — was Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person. Rhimes, for anyone who might not know, is the powerhouse writer/producer behind such television shows as Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. In an industry under assault for inequity of pay scale and a significant lack of diversity, Rhimes is a strong, intelligent black woman whose hard work has garnered wonderful success. However her book is not about how successful she is, but rather her year of facing the fears and bad habits that hamstrung her in spite of that success.

Recently, Rhimes recorded a TED Talk, presenting just one small piece of the story she recounts in her book. I offer it up here not just because she is an example of a successful writer but because of the way she presents herself. This is a writer who understands showmanship, performance, rhythm, repetition, and voice. It comes across on her television shows, it shines in her book, and it certainly makes itself known as she stands on a stage in front of a group of strangers and speaks about, among other things, curing her fear of public speaking. So take a few minutes to listen, and maybe then listen again. Not just to what she has to say, but how she says it.

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