Writer Profile: Jamie Tworkowski

We’re back with another 800 Words Writer Profile! In these profiles, we interview published authors with a full-time writing career, asking them about their writing process, advice, fun facts, and everything in between!

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Today, we have the honor of sitting down with Jamie Tworkowski. If you don’t know Jamie, he is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms and the New York Times bestselling author of If You Feel Too Much. His latest project, HEART CAMP, is a two-day workshop focused on authenticity, mental health, writing, and making an impact. (Our very own Ashton Ray has attended Heart Camp, and it was nothing short of life-changing. Read about her experience here). Jamie loves surfing, music, and basketball. He lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida. 

We hope you enjoy and learn from our conversation with Jamie!

How long have you been writing? Have you always considered yourself a writer? Have there been any moments that standout in your journey of becoming a writer? 

i wrote the To Write Love on Her Arms story in 2006. i had written a few pieces prior to that, but the TWLOHA story was certainly the game-changer for me. It took on a life of its own, which allowed me to consider that maybe writing was something i was meant to do more of. i was working as a sales rep for the clothing brand Hurley at the time. When i decided to quit my Hurley job to start a non-profit, the idea of writing more was definitely exciting.  

What inspires you to write? 

i tend to write short pieces about things that happen to me, and things that happen in the world that cause me to feel something. i've written about friends, family, romantic relationships, breakups, depression, longing, God, meeting people, losing people, current events, music, movies, politics -- all sorts of things.  

What advice would you give to someone working on their first book? If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice in that process, what would it be?

My first book ended up being primarily a collection of things that i had written over a 10-year period, so it wasn't how people typically imagine "writing a book." It was more like realizing, "Wait, maybe all of this could be a book." My best advice is to write. Write consistently. And anything you can do to grow your audience before releasing a book, that's only going to help. But the biggest lesson i've learned, with book one and now with book two, is that it's one thing to say you're writing a book and it's another thing to actually see it through. It's going to require discipline and consistency. My bonus advice is that unless you want to self-publish, you're going to need an agent. 

What is your favorite thing you've ever written? Why? 

The original "To Write Love on Her Arms" story changed my life. It became something so much bigger than me, beyond what i could have imagined. But in terms of a more recent favorite, "There is Still Some Time," which i wrote after the death of Robin Williams, feels important. When given the chance at a speaking event, i usually close by reading it.  

Who’s your dream dinner guest, dead or alive?

Bono is my hero so i'm tempted to say Bono. But i have some questions for Jesus. Can i go with Bono and Jesus?

What/who are the non-negotiables in your life? 

i need to be honest. i need to see my family consistently. i need some time to myself. i need to get enough sleep.  

Do you have an ideal writing environment? If so, can you describe it? 

It's funny but i think writers tend to romanticize this question too much. i know i have, reading old interviews with famous authors, wondering if their process should be my process. At this point, i live alone and i have an office at my house. There's a desk with a desktop computer and a lamp and a chair. It's quiet and it's comfortable. No distractions and no excuses. i'm trying to stop searching for the elusive perfect place to write. i have a room devoted to it. i just need to sit still and do it. If i have to write elsewhere, i'm a big fan of headphones.   

Favorite book(s) of all time? 

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
Reasons to Stay Alive
by Matt Haig
Blue Like Jazz
by Donald Miller
On the Road
by Jack Kerouac

What's your favorite way to spend your time without wifi? 

i love spending time with my family, especially my nephews. We can be doing anything-- i just love being with them, laughing with them, seeing the world through their eyes. 

If you’d like to keep up with Jamie, you can follow him on Twitter (@jamietworkowski) and Instagram (@jamietworkowski). You can also learn more about To Write Love on Her Arms here.

Ashton Ray