Lesson time 14:30 min
Learn how to tap into the childhood version of yourself to authentically relate to younger readers. Kids have big questions and want their lives reflected in the books they read.
Topics include: Tap Into the Child You Were • Use Your Childhood Themes • Deal With the Complications • The Real Stuff • Make Them Feel Normal • Don’t Do Themes
I have this feeling that those of us who write or maybe work in any creative field-- there was something about the way we were born, something about the way we were children, that set us apart. We're not better. We're not worse. We're not really different. But this is something that we have inside us. Maurice Sendak once said, I've never had children but I was a child. And I think that's true of all of us who write for children. We are in such touch with the children we were-- that little Judy, whoever she is. I mean, she's right there, you know, and I have such memories. Can you remember the way your classroom smelled on a wet winter day. All of the details-- I have them. They're with me. Other people don't. And that's fine. But I think that's a difference between those of us who choose to write for children, and those of us who don't. If I were trying to get you to go back into your childhoods, maybe I would start with school, and I would say put yourself into your whatever grade-- put yourself into a third grade classroom. Who's your teacher? Who's sitting around you? What are you doing? I mean, I can go back, today, into my third grade classroom, and it's all there. You have to make a real effort to do that-- to go back and to find those details no matter how long ago it was, and how much things have changed. And you know what? If you can't really get there, then absolutely go into schools. Ask if you can help out at a classroom where you're writing a book and you need to observe. I know lots of people who do that. During the course of writing a book, you want to be able to see it. I hated secrets when I was growing up, and I remember that. They were always keeping secrets from the children. Don't tell the children. Don't tell the children. Don't tell-- tell them what, what, what? And what I made up in my head-- in my stories-- was usually much worse than what I would have learned had my parents told me the truth. So I think there's that-- secrets that adults are keeping from children. Things that they think children don't understand that children actually do understand or want to understand. So I like writing from that point of view. But again, you have to put yourself back into the child that you were. But a lot of times, adults want to forget about it and block it out because it was tough. Because there's no kid who grows up without having a lot of problems. Nobody. And the things that you have to come to terms with and go through, and the way you're treated, and the way you've treated other people. But sometimes you have to force yourself back there. When I started to write, and I got the first two books out of the way, then I knew that I wanted to write about kids on the cusp. I liked the idea of the 11, 12-year-old just on the edge. Because somewhere around that age, ...
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.
Thanks Judy for your honesty and your wisdom.
I've learnt that you have to keep writing to achieve anything. Of course I'll never be a Judy Blume, but I may achieve something in a more modest way.
Judy's description of her process reminds me of my approach to writing research papers in college. I too suffered a kind of death at the end.
Impassioned. Sensitive. Emotional. Encouraging. It's been like reading a journal because so much of her writing seems to be grabbed from personal experience and fitted into characters with whom she has a deep, personal affection or bond. I love listening to and learning from good writers because they're consummate communicators and can well hit the mark. Good course. Thanks.