Chapter 16 of 24 from Judy Blume

Judy’s Writing Process - Part 1

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

Topics include: Get it All Down in the First Draft • Keep a Pencil in Your Hand • Work Through the Murky Middle • Onto the Second Draft • Let the Mess Come Out

Judy Blume

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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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 class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

Watch, listen, and learn as Judy teaches her first-ever writing class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Judy will also critique select student work.

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Judy Blume

Judy Blume Teaches Writing