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Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Natalie here today. I'm excited to share a tip by Jody Lamb, a fellow Michigan SCBWI member. Jody's also offering a copy of her new book, EASTER ANN PETERS' OPERATION COOL for a giveaway. Details are at the end of Jody's post.

3 reasons why you need a special writing/creating space

It’s one of the most commonly asked questions of authors: Where do you write/create art? What’s your writing space like? Our curiosity is fueled by hope to discover a magical spot where creativity flows and genius concepts arrive in a sparkly bow.

The answers are as varied as how-to-write-the-next-great-thing publishing agent and editor discussion panel. Cozy, cluttered basement offices, tattered tree houses, bustling coffee shops, in one’s pajamas, trains and even closets: I’ve heard of them all.

Some people cannot write anywhere but their staple spot. Others require constant variety.

Most of us creators are limited in the options for such creative space. You may feel tremendous urgency in hitting the word counts and other WIP milestones. We squeeze in extra 15 minutes of writing time whenever we can, often wherever we can.

I’ve discovered that when I’m under self or editor-imposed deadlines, I consider working in distraction-loaded places because it’ll save me commute time to get elsewhere.

However, if not for the creative space I found, I wouldn’t be celebrating the upcoming release of middle-grade novel, Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool.

I wrote most of four drafts of my debut novel, beside this lake in a public park. It’s my favorite to place to be.

My love of this place began in the summer of 2009. I was 26 years old and in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. My peers appeared to be settling into grownup life and letting dreams slip away with smiles pasted all over Facebook. I felt lost, longed for a sense of purpose and feared I was alone in my struggles with lack of satisfaction. I found little enjoyment in my job. I had accidentally moved up the corporate marketing and PR career ladder.

As a child, I found great joy in writing screenplays and short stories but I gave up creative writing in high school to use my skills in a practical career in journalism and media relations.

Could I find joy in creative writing as a grownup? This is the question I longed to answer when I enrolled in a creative writing course at my local community college. 

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’d hurry from my office to arrive early for the 6 p.m. class. After the first week, I felt a sense of hope that I could claim the kind of fulfilling grownup life I’d hoped for as a child.

In the beginning, when I sat down to pen or key my homework assignments at home, at coffee shops or at a library, I froze. It felt, well, like homework. I was distracted by the usual stresses around me – the deadlines, the people, the carpet needing vacuuming.

So I went to the park.

Right away, when I unpacked my notebook and pen, I actually felt lighter, as crazy as that might sound. My work stresses and family drama weren’t with me there. Expectations and obligations. Worries and insecurities. They all slipped away.

There, if only for a minute or two, I’m a writer with a notebook full of blank pages and a pen full of ink.

It’s how I always thought grownup would feel.

Being there is good for my writerly soul, like eating ice cream, and I am so grateful for that free feeling.

Several times while I wrote and edited four whole drafts of the story, I wanted to skip the park. Sometimes, it seemed more convenient to go the local coffee shop. The weather was often a headache – sometimes it was ultra chilly, other times it was crazy hot.

But I was always glad I went.  

I hope you have a special place and if not yet, I hope you give it thought.

Here are three reasons you should find a special writing/creating space:
  1. You’re creating because you have talent! It’s a big deal and therefore, it deserves careful thought about where to put your skills to greatest use.
  2. Odds are that your best work comes when you’re somewhere you feel relaxed.
  3. You’re going to need something cool to describe when you’re asked the where-do-you-create questions. 
High five and write on!

Jody is a SCBWI Michigan member. Luckily, she’s pretty much the same person she was at twelve years old, even though she’s a grownup now. Jody loves books, writing, ugly dogs, peppermint ice cream, ear-to-ear smiles, insides-twisting laughter and her family. She is a passionate advocate for kids with alcoholic loved ones. Like Easter Ann, Jody lives in Michigan with furry friends. “Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool” is her first novel. She is currently writing a young adult novel and has plans for another middle-grade novel.

You can learn more about Jody and her debut middle-grade novel, “Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool,” on her website – www.JodyLamb.com. Jody hopes you’ll say hi and connect with her at Facebook.com/JodyLambAuthor and Twitter.com/jodymlamb. She loves meeting fellow story lovers!

Here's a blurb about Jody's book from Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old Easter Ann Peters has a plan to make seventh grade awesome: Operation Cool. She’s determined to erase years of being known as the quiet, straight-A student who can’t think of a decent comeback to a bully she calls Horse Girl. When the confident new girl, Wreni, becomes her long-needed best friend, Easter lets her personality shine. The coolest guy in school takes a sudden interest. But as tough times at school fade away, so does a happy life at home. Mom is drinking, and Easter works double-overtime to keep their secret in the tiny lakeside town.

Operation Cool derails. Fast.

Can Easter discover the solution in time? Or will seventh grade be her worst year yet?

Jody is offering a copy of EASTER ANN PETERS' OPERATION COOL for a giveaway.

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on November 10th. I’ll announce the winner on November 12th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. 

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

Hope to see you tomorrow when I'm interviewing our follower Angela Brown about her debut book NEVERLOVE and Gwen Gardner about her debut book GIVIN' UP THE GHOST with book giveaways. They are both great paranormal books and Angela and Gwen have joined forces for their book releases. It's going to be a fun interview for Halloween.


Steve MC said...

As I read this, I thought, oh, that's easy, going to the park all the time - she must live in Florida. And then I saw you're in Michigan! That's even colder than here.

So yeah, that was some real discipline getting yourself out there, and I'm glad it paid off.

Angela Brown said...

It's always interesting to see where people call their cozy zone or their place for inspiration. Beneath the open sky beside a refreshing lake certainly makes for a great place of inspiration.

Old Kitty said...

I'm all for finding one's one personal space no matter where!! I love that you found yours in this beautiful park!! Good luck with Operation Cool, Jody!! Take care

jpetroroy said...

Personal space is key!

Jess said...

Thanks so much to Jody for placing emphasis on the importance of creative space! It may sound odd, but my little slice of couch is my go-to place to write. Even if it's not super scenic, it's worked well for me...that said, I don't think I'd mind upgrading to a desk if I ever land a book deal ;)

Easter Ann sounds like a great character, and the book sounds awesome~ congrats and thanks for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

Good post. I absolutely have zero personal space! My life is rocky and I'm not sure I'll ever have one. Something to think about though. The idea of a park is lovely, though I think I'd have to keep it to longhand then since I'm not a fan of lugging my computer around :)

Thanks for offering the giveaway. The book sounds wonderful and like my type of read. Looking forward to reading it!

I must go visit your website now Jody because I love the blurb about your book and love that type of MG.


Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typos and poor grammar. I'm not quite awake at the moment :)

Miles of the Journey said...

If I get moments to write, it will be in the morning before anyone wakes up. We have a wood burning stove with a fan to disperse the warm air. The crackling of the fire, along with the hum of the heater fan provides background in the early morning. A stiff cup of special coffee and creativity seems to come forth, like planted seeds pushing skyward in the garden after a spring rain.

Jody Lamb said...

Florida parks must be lovely! :) Yes, Michigan parks are a bit chillier but we love 'em. Thanks for your kind words!

Jody Lamb said...

Yes, definitely a great place! Thanks, Angela!

Jody Lamb said...

Thanks so much!

Jody Lamb said...

Hi Jess, a couch is a wonderful place, too! That book deal is probably closer than you think! Better start desk shopping!

Thank you for the kind words, Jess!

Jody Lamb said...

Hi Jill,

I'm sorry to hear that your life is rocky. When I can't get to the park (stupid rocky life!), I turn up the music and I try my best to zone out. It took some training but it works!

Thanks for the kind words! High five. I wish you great things.

Jody Lamb said...

Hi Marv, oh goodness. How beautiful. "...like planted seeds pushing skyward in the garden after a spring rain." LOVE it! I adore mornings as well. The world seems the most marvelous at that point in the day.

Jill the OWL said...

I have 3 kids, a cat and a dog. What is personal space????? :)

Angela said...

Congrats on the book, Jody! Thanks for the tips. Many times I have to get out of the house to write. I like going to the library, the bookstore and yes I like the park too. If I stay home too many dhores and other distractions stare at me.

Kristin Lenz said...

What a beautiful writing spot, Jody! Your author photo is lovely, too. I am inspired by nature, but I find myself musing, not actually writing. I get the most work done in my home office.

Jody Lamb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jody Lamb said...

Thank you so much, Kristin! Did I mention that nature makes me daydream? Not all of the time spent there was completely productive. :) But gotta love the daydreaming! Yay for your home office - epicenter of creativity! P.S. It was so nice to see you at Nicola's last week!

Jody Lamb said...

Thanks, Angela! We're like-minded writers!

Dana Atnip said...

I am lucky enough to have a private office (and quiet!) in my home, yet no private/quiet place outdoors (yet) for pondering or creative thought. A long time ago I lived near Yates Cider Mill and I spent time by the river every weekend to write or sketch, it was lovely. I look forward to reading your book! :-)

Rachna Chhabria said...

I really don't have a personal space. I write in my bedroom, on my bed.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

This book looks so good! I love mg books, they are so sweet!

inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

Akoss said...

I admire your discipline and wish I had a personal space of my own for my writing. At least I'm learning to with what I have.
Your book is the kind that makes me wish I had three jobs so I could go on book buying sprees. It sounds like a must read to me.
Thank you for a chance at winning a copy. :)

Jody Lamb said...

Thank you so much for the kind words. Good luck with your writing!

Jody Lamb said...

Thank you! I love MG, too!

Jody Lamb said...

Thank you, Dana! Time by the river? That sounds so lovely!

Jody Lamb said...

Sounds like super comfy personal space to me! Good luck with your writing!

Tricia C. said...

Nature can be so relaxing. I think it totally makes sense for that to be your creative spot. Easter Ann sounds like me when I was in middle school. Your book sounds like one that my students would really enjoy. Gotta love 7th graders!