February 11, 2020
Interview by Jessica Mack
After getting her Ph.D. in Exercise Psychology, Ann has traveled all over the world. Ann had her moment in writing with the Wisconsin Book Festival, when she won a 24-hour writing contest. Since then, she has gone on to publish multiple successful books. Ann will be part of the keynote conversation with Jacquelyn Mitchard during the conference dinner and “What Writers Can Learn from Sports Psychology” session with Tim Storm at the 2020 Let's Just Write! An Uncommon Writers Conference.
Q: What inspired you to participate in the keynote conversation of keynote conversation with Jacquelyn Mitchard and the presentation with Tim Storm?
A: Jacquelyn Mitchard is one of the smartest people I know. She has a depth and breadth of knowledge from being a journalist, essayist, columnist, and novelist that few others do. I get to chat with her on a regular basis and each time I do, I learn something. I thought it would be fun and informative to bring our conversations to CWA so everyone can learn from the master. Plus, as her friend, I can ask her all the hard questions.
Tim and I got to talking about how hard it is to stay motivated as a writer—especially when there is so little positive feedback. Tim and I have a lot of experience with staying motivated and working through barriers as writers, but also as athletes. I have the additional experience of studying and teaching Sports Psychology. When Samantha Hoffman asked us to present for CWA, we decided something practical and applicable for all writers related to staying the course would be useful. We put our minds together and decided we knew things as athletes that would help writers, and wanted to talk about it.
Q: Describe your writing space. What inspires you in this space to write?
A: I have the best writing room any writer could ask for. My sunroom has three walls of windows and looks out onto my street where dogs and kids parade by all day. I have plants, post-it notes, and a perfect napping couch. I need sun, as much as possible, a good chair and my laptop. I also need a good idea.
Q: What genre do you write in? What draws you towards this genre?
A: I write funny and sad books about women who do too much in a world that asks too much from them. My goal in writing is to help people feel better about being human. I started writing this kind of fiction while I was teaching Health and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin. I realized there are so many ways to reach people and the kind of books I write seem to connect with people where they live. This is what I love about writing, the ability to find readers who are interested in feeling understood.
Q: How are you inspired for each book you write? What things in your daily life translate to your writing?
A: Inspiration is a tricky thing. I get ideas from people I meet on airplanes, friends and their relationships, and language, but I don't wait for inspiration to write. I write almost every day, even when I'm not inspired. I keep track of my book ideas in a notebook and my kids say I stare and eavesdrop whenever I'm in public. It drives them crazy but I love watching and listening to people. People are my inspiration and I find them both very funny and often very sad.
Q: What do you think are the most important elements that make good writing?
A: Getting the emotion right in any one scene is, in my opinion, one of the most important elements of good writing and storytelling. Our job as writers is to make people feel something when they read our stories. The only way for them to feel anything is to get the words on the page crafted into a story that resonates with humanity. It's a huge challenge and something that I will never fully master and I actually like it that way.
Q: Do you have a daily routine in place or is how you write always random?
A: I wake up every day, get a cup of coffee and write. I'm a morning person and this has been my routine since I started to write seriously. I try not to make appointments for the morning or answer the phone. This is my sacred writing time and I don't mess with it.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A: Writing is the most magical thing and I work on learning how to get better at it every day. Each morning is a new challenge, each story feels like the first one. I love how hard it is.
Bio: Ann Garvin, Ph.D., is the USA Today Bestselling author of I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around, The Dog Year, and On Maggie's Watch. Her essays have been published in Writer's Digest, USA Today, Psychology Today, The Last Word on Nothing, and Unreasonable.is and has performed several times in Listen To Your Mother & The Moth. She teaches in Madison Wisconsin and Drexel University in their low residency Masters of Fine Arts program. She is a sought after speaker and has taught extensively in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and at festivals across the country and internationally. She is the founder of the Tall Poppy Writers and The Fifth Semester where she is committed to helping writers find their voice. For more information on Ann, visit her website at https://anngarvin.net.
Interested in attending the conference? Visit https://www.chicagowrites.org/conference for more!
Interview conducted by CWA intern Jessica Mack
Jessica Mack was previously Editor-in-Chief for the Joliet Junior College Blazer, editing and preparing articles for publication and managing a general staff. Under her leadership, the Blazer was 2018 Best-In-Show at the Illinois Community College Journalism Association annual fall contest and received 2018 Awards for Excellence. She is currently working on her Masters of English at DePaul University with a focus on creative writing and hopes to become a book editor.
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