Diane Ackerman

How did you become a writer?

It seems to have chosen me. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, making up poems and stories when I was little.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

Pablo Neruda, Dylan Thomas, Wallace Stevens, Loren Eisely, Lewis Thomas.

When and where do you write?

Mainly in my bay window, looking out at a big old magnolia tree and a cottage garden.

What are you working on now?

Columns for the NYT on “nature and human nature.”

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Sure, everyone has. Usually not for long though, because I've tried to make a living through the sweat of my pen, and deadlines will cure you of writer's block fast.

What’s your advice to new writers?

My best advice is to young writers is: follow your curiosity and passion. What fascinates you will probably fascinate others. But, even if it doesn’t, you will have devoted your life to what you love. Also, try to invent your confidence. When you’re trying something new, insecurity and stage fright come with the territory. Many wonderful writers (and other artists) have been plagued by insecurity throughout their professional lives. How could it be otherwise? By its nature, art involves risk. It’s not easy, but sometimes one just has to invent one’s confidence.

Poet, essayist, and naturalist, Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly acclaimed works of nonfiction and poetry, including A Natural History of the Senses and The Zookeeper's Wife -- books beloved by millions of readers all over the world. Her most recent book, One Hundred Names for Love, has been described by Booklist as: "A gorgeously engrossing, affecting, sweetly funny, and mind-opening love story of crisis, determination, creativity, and repair." It was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Circle Critics Award.