Arts & Entertainment, Writing

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.

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

Topics include: Write as Catharsis • Get Away From Your Desk • Write Them All Down


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Judy Blume

In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.

Explore the Class
Sign Up