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Arts & Entertainment

Finding Ideas - Part 2

Judy Blume

Lesson time 9:04 min

Judy discusses the highly personal calculation every writer will make about whether to raid their own lives for material. She also talks about the importance of letting ideas percolate before committing them to paper.

Judy Blume
Teaches Writing
In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.
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The mood that you're in when you're writing a book will come into the book, I think, and be a mood of a book. When I wrote Tiger Eyes in New Mexico, I had moved to New Mexico and I had left Los Alamos, where I started out. And I left a marriage that took place there. And I got down to Santa Fe, and I knew that I wanted to write a book about a family in a place, and that place was going to be very important to the book. And the family story actually came from-- I don't know. I heard a story about a young girl who's lost her father and the mother picked up and moved to another place where she had family. I had no idea when I was writing Tiger Eyes-- it was a long time after-- maybe not until we made the movie of Tiger Eyes-- that I realized this book is about the loss of my father, my father, who I worried so when I was nine years old, would die at 43, died suddenly at 54. And I adored my father. And in my family, we didn't talk much about loss. My mother didn't-- if my father had been living, we would have talked about it, but my mother didn't talk about anything. And I thought I was writing about one thing, and maybe I was-- the story of this girl who had lost her father suddenly and the mother moved them to another place. I mean, that didn't happen in my life. But that loss, that pain-- that's what Tiger Eyes is all about. That's what came up from inside. And when I realized what it was about, it must have been very cathartic for me to write that book about a girl who feels this pain and this loss. I know in Tiger Eyes, there's a scene-- every time I've ever read that scene aloud, I burst into tears. I can't tell you why that is. It involves a Christmas, Hanukkah present that she's bought for her father in New Mexico. It's a candle. I had a candle like that, because I lived in New Mexico for a long time and it had five wicks. And it burned down, but I never got to give that to my father. But there's something about her giving it to her father, even though he's not there anymore, he's dead, that just makes me dissolve. I think that's a very personal decision, what to use and what not to use. And again, sometimes you are using your own personal feelings and experiences and emotions, and you don't even know it. You don't know it until after the fact. I have gotten great ideas in the shower. And the one that I remember best is a whole book came to me in the shower. And that was Superfudge. And I guess it had been about eight years since I wrote Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing-- same characters. And I wanted to write another book, but I just I didn't have an idea for it. And then suddenly, I was in the shower one day, and covered with soap and shampoo, and it came to me and it was such an easy idea. It's laughable to say it out loud. It was like, OK, here's what happens. The family has a new baby, and we go on from there...

Write timeless stories

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.


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

I really enjoyed this masterclass. It taught me to change my focus about characters and how I can bring them to life. It is important to write about our own feelings and experiences. Love, love, love this class!!!

Inspirational, deeply moving, full of invaluable information. Thank you for your heart, your kindness and generosity. You bought me delight and lifted my spirit.

Great conversation and insights on all aspects of writing

I've learned that there is not perfect writing process, that everyone has to use what works for them.


Rosalind P.

My first lesson with Judy Blume and so far I like her style. I like to people watch. There are certain characters or characteristics that stay in my mind. I let my imagination run with ideas about who these people are when we are not looking. I write my thoughts down in a note app on my phone. It's always nice to be able to identify with an artist. It makes me feel like I can do this, even at this stage in my life. I have had stories in my head as far back as I can remember. I've lived with a dream that maybe one day when I retire, I'll have time to write. Well, here I am.

Angel D.

I use the "notepad" on my iPhone more when ideas strike, rather than for jotting down bits of details that I get through my 5 senses. I'm impressed at the acceptance Judy has for herself as a young child who had a head full with stories. She has definitely come to terms with being "different" as a child, which is great for her. I didn't have a head filled with stories, more filled with a sense of adventure and some fears, but I didn't have many details to make into stories it seems. Now I feel I can create details as needed once I have there's a stem of an idea, or what she calls a "feeling" first. I think that's the most important thing. To have the feeling as the kernel for a story. I think once you have the feeling then details are just naturally attracted to it like metal filings to a magnet.


I haven't carried a notebook, but I have often run home or to the car and jotted bits of inspiration and/or details down on anything immediately at hand. Sometimes I've come home from a long walk with my dog and run into the house straight to the computer and just started typing - 3 hours can go by - just typing - all the thoughts racing through my head while walking now racing off my fingertips, typing. Some of my best stuff comes from that. Or, I think it's my "best stuff" anyway. I call these walks my meditative walks. I keep saying I'm going to get a tape recorder and string it around my neck so I don't miss the good stuff; sometimes in that walking state I articulate better, find my words better, find my stories better, and it just doesn't come out the same when I try to grab it later. For some reason, though, using my phone never occurred to me. Now, it does. :) good idea.


Amy--ready to finish my novel already! I love watching Judy talk about her writing. I always have a notebook, in fact I have too many notebooks. I agree that writing everything down is an essential part of being a writer, but when is it too much? I have a hard time tossing certain dialogues or things away that I know is just taking up space. Anyone else have this same issue??

Alicia O.

Alicia, Pacifica, CA I'm really enjoying listening to Judy. I identify with her description of her childhood. I was an active kid but I also had fears. The night terrified me. Always carry a notebook with me and jot down what I'm thinking but now I will begin to listen and jot down ideas from what I'm seeing and hearing.

Bea R.

just listened to the first few minutes but what struck me was we can write our story with a different twist than what really happened.

Danielle B.

I have been carrying a notebook around for awhile and, sometimes, getting ideas from overheard conversations or people watching. I don't feel so guilty about that now, knowing that Judy Blume does the same thing!

Anne B.

I love to organize my physical world so this idea of collecting ideas really resonates for me; I need a couple notebooks to collect ideas as I observe and they come to me.

Sunny S.

Get an idea and write it down before it slips away, pay attention to your inner voice

Sunny S.

I enjoyed what Judy has said, listen, be observant, tune-in, keep writing, just don't give up.