1. How have you gotten through writer's block and/or your own mental discouragements? —Meghan Rose via Facebook
Judy Blume: I don’t believe in writer’s block. For me there’s no such thing as writer’s block — don’t even say writer’s block. As far as the [mental discouragements] go, you’ve got to keep them out. When you’re writing, you’ve got to knock the critic off this shoulder, knock the censor off this shoulder, and all those voices in your head — telling you that you suck, and nobody’s going to read what you’re writing, nobody’s going to buy it or publish it — you have to leave them outside the workspace, and get rid of them.
It is true that once, for three months, while I was writing a novel, I couldn’t work because I made the terrible mistake of reading a book that I found to be a really good novel. I can’t do that. I can’t read good novels when I'm trying to write one. I was living out near Venice Beach in California, and I was reading Dad by William Wharton. It was a big book, and it took place right in this area where I was living, and I couldn’t write for three months because i felt so intimidated reading something that I found to be so good. You know those voices — like, “What are you doing, Judy? You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know how to do this.” And so I learned the hard way that when I'm writing fiction, I really shouldn’t be reading fiction. I can read nonfiction, short pieces in magazines, but I shouldn’t be reading a book that I’ll fall in love with, because I need to focus on my own characters, and not on other characters. You need to leave those negative thoughts out.
2. How can you stay positive when you feel there’s no hope left? —xxminnie01xx via BuzzFeed
JB: Well it’s best not to think about anything else; that’s the only thing I can say. Just don’t think about anything else. When you’re in there [working], when you’re at the computer, when you’ve got the pencil in your hand — and, by the way, I get my best ideas from a pencil. I'm a good rewriter; I like to revise much more than I like getting down that first draft — you just have to keep those bad, hopeless thoughts away.
3. How do you know you’re making the right decision, when there are so many other options? —angelicac413dffbb5 via BuzzFeed
JB: That’s a hard a question to answer! I’m impulsive, which doesn’t always work to my advantage. I marry easily, which hasn’t always worked to my advantage, but sometimes you get lucky: For 35 years, I've been incredibly lucky with the best mate anybody could ever hope for. But I wasn’t always lucky! I take chances. I take risks, for better or worse. I like to move around a lot. Between books is a very dangerous time, I’ve always said, because that's when the creative energy comes out in different ways. I like to renovate houses, and that’s a really expensive hobby, so I can’t really do that every time I finish a book. But I think about it. I like that. I get a creative high out of that, and change is good. Take risks. And sometimes, you know, you get it right, and you won't want to think about change. You get it right, and you want to stick with it, and that's good, too.
4. Any advice for those going through a heartbreak? —Erika Trejo via Facebook
JB: Ohhh, heartbreak is heartbreaking. Every time. It never gets easier, and I guess all one can hope to take away from it is, I made it through, I got through this, and I can do it again. And, again, when it comes to love, I’ve always been ready to take another chance, but I think that’s because I’ve always been looking for the right person. I’ve always been willing to take that chance, and now, 35 years with the right person, it ended up working out. But there’s no way to make heartbreak any easier. You just have to keep going.
5. What do you do when you fall in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same? —courtneyt442bd0fdc via BuzzFeed
JB: You cry. And you let it go — God, don’t sit there wasting your time, hoping it will change. There’s no such thing as one right person in life; there are many people who could be right for each of us, and it’s just a question of finding the right one. I like being partnered, so I like having that person in my life.
6. How do you maintain a relationship when your boyfriend or girlfriend is graduating high school without you? —jordanlprochnow via BuzzFeed
JB: Aww, leaving you behind and going off into the world, going to college or something else? You just have to wait and see what happens. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t, but hopefully it's been a great experience.
7. How do you learn to like yourself? —matildae via BuzzFeed
JB: Well, I would hope that everyone would like herself or himself. Stop looking at the bad stuff, and focus on the good stuff. If you don’t like this, find something you do like. I have good teeth! So I focus on my teeth. It’s like with anybody else — maybe you’re not going to like yourself every day, but it’s important to find things that you do like about yourself, and to get out there. If you’re looking for new ways to like yourself, find something new to do. Find a challenge and go through with it. My husband was just the oldest person in a sprint triathlon and he was so pleased with himself; he worked out for the longest time and he got ready for it, and he was determined to do it in under two hours, and he did. He was really tired, but he did it. At 77 years old!
8. What is the best way to deal with stress? —mmarkley18 via BuzzFeed
JB: I actually need to learn more ways to deal with stress. I get very stressed out and that’s not good, and I know that’s not good. I have some breathing tricks. I just learned another breathing trick for going to sleep at night, and it’s been working really well. I am seriously stressed out right now — I’m about to embark on a 30-day book tour here, and then a couple days off, and then another one in the UK — and I’m just going one day at a time. Just live through it one day at a time. You have to get up, and eat your breakfast, and go on your walk, and take your shower, and let it come. But I’m really not that good at managing stress.
Somebody just gave me a little bottle of lavender and told me to put little drops of lavender on my shoulders at night, and my husband is like [disgusted face] because I smell so much like lavender. But it’s working, or something’s working, because I’m sleeping well right now! I also just read about this deep breathing technique where you blow everything out through your mouth with this big noise, and then you take a breath in through your nose and you hold it four beats. Then you puff it out and take another breath through your nose, and hold it seven beats. And then I get so tired from trying to do that that I end up falling asleep. I’ll do anything that works. I should be taking some kind of anti-stress class, and maybe someday I’ll do that, but there’s also stress that’s good. It makes you keep going. I get hyped up.
9. Any advice for reconnecting to the promise and magic of childhood? —jennywiggles via BuzzFeed
JB: I don't have any tricks! I'm always there. I always think that way, and I’m always connected that way; I can be four or I could be twelve or I could be fifteen, just like that. I don’t know about optimism, because I don’t think children are necessarily always optimistic. I think life is really hard for a lot of kids, and I used to tell them that it will get easier as you grow up. I hope that’s true. There are things about being young that you have no control over. You have no control over the decisions your parents make that affect you, and the day will come when you can maybe control your own life ,without having your parents do it for you. But that’s hard, too. I think I’m born to be optimistic. My father was a really optimistic guy and my mother was the opposite: very anxious, always saw the bad in everything. My father saw the good. Unfortunately he died really young, but I seem to carry his optimism with me.
10. How do you survive high school when you’re surrounded by people you don’t like & desperately want new friends but you’re very VERY awkward and shy? —brennas40dd309f0 via BuzzFeed
JB: It will get better, and you’ll find people you like, and who like you. My mother was a very shy woman, my daughter was a painfully shy kid, and I see her coming out of that. Of course she’s 50-something and she’s a therapist now, but it’s tough. It’s tough to feel uncomfortable. We all feel uncomfortable sometimes.
11. Do you know how to urge feminism to grow in your circle when your circle doesn’t agree with the idea of feminism itself? —brendagracia via BuzzFeed
JB: Women in my generation were some of the first groups of people to embrace feminism when it had a name, but I don’t even know if we knew that it had a name. We were for equal rights and equal opportunities and all of that, way back when. I was speaking to a friend about this today and she asked, "What does it mean today?" Because it means something different depending on who you ask. And everybody has their own definition of it. So, embrace it, by all means, and use it in your life. I don’t know if you can convince your friends that this is good. You don't have to throw around the word feminism, but show them by your own examples what you can do, and what this means to you without calling it anything because labels are dangerous. If you ask me if I’m a feminist, I’d say that of course I’m a feminist, how could I not be a feminist? But then I hear that there’s different kinds of feminism and it means different things to different people, so I would just be what you are, do what you can do, and if your friends don’t choose to join you, well too bad for them.