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Arts & Entertainment

Judy’s Writing Process - Part 1

Judy Blume

Lesson time 10:31 min

For Judy, early drafts require leaning on her notebooks as well as “letting the mess come out” and looking at potential problems later.

Judy Blume
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In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.
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So my process, it's really fairly simple-- I think. It's in my head and then, it transfers down into my notebook. And my notebook gives me the security that I need for that first day that I decide to start writing the story. And I will never stop making notes in my notebook. Not until it's too late. Not until the book is in and I know it's set. In a first draft, I'm just trying to get down everything that I can get down so that, again, I'll have something. I won't have to face a blank screen or a blank page because I'll have something. I have my security. I really need those security blankets that I have. I definitely couldn't write without them. Could not go forward without them. So get it all down. Get down anything. Don't worry about it-- that's the whole point. You don't have to think maybe this isn't working. You don't have to think that now. You're in a first draft. You're just getting everything down that you can get down. And then, you'll have plenty of time-- more time than you want to give to it-- you'll have plenty of time to come back and reassess, and see what there is, and see what you can make happen. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'm a person who has to print out all the time. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm using a lot of paper. I try to use both sides. I print out every day. And everything that I write all around it and over it and under it, that's very, very important for the next day. My most creative moments come with a pencil in my hand. There's something that connects the brain and the hand, and I don't know where those ideas come from, but they seem to come with a pencil. There's a little detail that I love and I don't know where it came from, but in the book, Here's To You, Rachel Robinson, Rachel's father is a schoolteacher, and I know I didn't know this in the beginning, but somewhere with the pencil, it came that she's so nervous before school starts every year that he's always swigging Pepto Bismol. And I like that. That's one of those details that you don't know where it came from. It wasn't in my head when I was thinking about Rachel's father and who is he, but it came-- it came during a draft. [MUSIC PLAYING] I have that terrible time in the middle. I don't know anybody who doesn't have that terrible time of the middle. What's going to happen? How am I going to fill up all these pages? Suppose nothing happens. Suppose I don't get an idea for what's going to happen to them. And again, that having something there, the security of the notebook, the security of notes all over your printouts, that helps me. And the middle of a book is hard. It's probably the hardest part, actually. The beginning can be fun. You're just getting into it. And the ending is exciting because you're wrapping up. You're coming to the end and that's reason for celebration. But the middle...

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.

The class was wonderful and I have learnt a lot of news things and how the process of writing a book works. Judy was a wonderful and empathetic teacher and guided me into the mind of a writer.

I loved every minute of it and was sad when it ended. Judy is so authentic and full of warmth. I learned quite a lot about writing and I felt inspired to keep on keeping on with what I've been working on now for 4 years. Scene by scene - just take it scene by scene.

Good tips and strategies shared by Judy! also loved her sharing of personal experiences - very motivating!

After listening to Judy Blume and taking copious notes, I am inspired to get my book written, stop being afraid of rejection, and just do it already!


Matt S.

Clear and concise directions. Now all I need to do is get started and “get it all down”.

Myriam B.

Some very good advice in this part. Helps me so much to know that I'm not the only person who struggles with the "middle." I rarely hear writers talk about this or admit to it. I also rarely hear writers admit that they don't have a complete outline of the book before they start writing it. Judy's process doesn't sound dissimilar to mine - and what's always stopped me writing is knowing that my idea of the middle was very "murky" indeed. This makes me feel encouraged to just plough through and not worry about whether my plot and structure is oven-ready or not. I'm definitely more of a 'discovery' writer than 'planning' writer but always thought this was a problem. I like the advice of 'get it all down' for the first draft and not worrying about what is or is not in there.

Diane C.

I need to get away from the idea that I have to have the whole story worked out in my head before I start writing it. Having a beginning, end, and sections of the middle worked out is enough. The rest will fall into place if I just relax and trust that it will.

Roger S.

I like the clarity and honesty in Judy's presentation. The simple presentation of a complex endeavor such as writing is refreshing.

Judy B.

I have a technical/legal question. Judy mentions that in one of her books she writes someone "swigs down Peto Bismal at the beginning of each school year" My question is can you use brand names of products, or the name of a hospital? Do you have to get some form of legal authorization to do this?

Craig R.

Taking Judy's advice of not self-editing so much in the first draft, I already feel way more productive than I've felt in a long time!

Rachel M.

This is really helpful. I watch these before going for my daily attempt at writing to give me the push I need. Time to write!

April C.

It's funny - as a teacher I tell my students all the time, "just write it all down, whatever comes to mind, you can edit and change things in the second draft." Meanwhile, I sit staring at my screen forever because I can't get one paragraph done that I need to lead to the great part that's floating in my head waiting to burst onto the page! I need to take my own advice and Judy's and just write what comes when and as it comes - fix it later.

Millie L. is a nonprofit organization. The full name is National Novel Writing Month, and it's in November, although they have a "CAMP NANO" in the summer. For Nanowrimo, you pledge to write a 50k novel in the month of November, which is 1666 words a day. Nano is a wonderful way to force yourself to get the first draft on paper. It will need a dozen re-writes, but you will finish that first draft along with a half million people around the world and an onliine community. Some places have local write-ins. I'm the Municipal Liaison on the ground for my town. We start with a "Night of Writing Dangerously" at IHOP in costume where we write from 7-midnight. Then I'm at the public library two hours a day to support Wrimos, and on Wednesdays, at a local artsy coffee house. When you make a public commitment to get the 50K written, you make it happen. Then you can begin on the revisions because you have something to revise.


Yes! That's it! I'm getting bogged down with the details in the first draft. Yikes... now I know better. I'm writing an autobiographical piece, so it's hard to just let the imagination run wild. But now, I think, I suspect, I might be able to take artistic licence with my own story and let it run loose. Will no doubt make for a better read for sure. Thanks Judy, I'm going to just write and come back and clean it up later. Like the dishes after a satisfying meal!