When I was a kid I loved to read Judy Blume books: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Deenie, Freckle Juice, Superfudge. They addressed themes and issues other books I was reading at the time didn't cover. Her stories spoke directly to me, as if she could see right into my curious, hyper-sensitive, insecure pre-teen head.
I had forgotten about her wonderful books until my kids became old enough to fall in love with them: First my son, and later my daughter.
Despite being the target of numerous censorship efforts over the years, Blume's books have been translated into 30 languages and have sold more than 85 million copies. Blume has also been the recipient of an astonishing 90 literary awards over the course of her long writing career.
And now, she is sharing all that she knows about writing in a brand-new series of instructional videos produced by Masterclass, the premium online course provider. In a short trailer video promoting the series, Blume shares a few inspiring writing tips that have helped her discover her voice, tackle first drafts, and deal with criticism.
"I hope that in sharing with you what I've learned over 50 years of writing, that it will help you find your way as a writer," says Blume.
Here are six nuggets of advice she shares in this brief video:
1. Write the book you want to read.
"As a 12-year-old, I was obsessed about growing breasts and getting my period, but there was no place that I could read about it. When I started to write, I was determined to be honest."
2. Character is paramount.
"There's nothing more important than character. You're living with these people for years. You had better feel for them. Do some exercises: Have your character write a letter to you."
"When you're writing for kids, we're not an adult telling a story about being a kid. We are that kid."
3. The first draft is "pure torture."
"The first draft is pure torture for me. I hate every second of it. I have a messy mind, and the writing is a process of cleaning up the mess, and then slowly making a story."
4. Writing is rewriting.
"If you ask me, 'Judy, are you a great writer?' I'll say 'No, but I'm a great rewriter.'"
5. Don't let the critics stop you from writing.
"I got a particularly nasty review once. They got to me. And I took my typewriter and...I was going to throw it [out]. I thought, 'I cannot do this anymore.' And then this little voice went off in my head, 'Wait, you're gonna let this one review stop you from writing? That's crazy! That's one opinion!'"
6. Write because you have to.
"I always ask myself, why would anyone write if they didn't have to? I mean, it's so hard. So this is for all of you who feel that you have to."