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"My Conversation with Ana McCracken: Innovations and Inspirations"

At INNOVATION InsightsWe transform our clients' career journeys through the art of storytelling via our consulting, coaching, and career management services.

Eulanda and Ana smiling at an event.

Hosting Ana McCracken on the INNOVATION Insights Podcast was a genuinely enriching experience. Ana and I have been friends for over a decade, and our friendship has been a source of personal joy and professional inspiration. It is a rare and unique bond when you meet someone and instantly connect with them.

Ana is just a fun and positive person, and I never know what a text from her will contain. Once, she sent a photo of a mutual friend and her – unbeknownst to me, this person was a mutual friend. Ana was visiting this friend in Chicago, and they realized we were all acquaintances.

Ana's Journey of Resilience and Transformation

Our discussion clearly showed that Ana's journey is one of resilience and transformation. With a background that spans fashion merchandising to obtaining an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment, Ana has continuously reinvented herself, each time finding new ways to integrate her passions and skills. This ability to pivot and adapt is a cornerstone of innovation, and Ana exemplifies it beautifully.

A smiling Ana is sitting and writing at a desk.

The Importance of Writing and Communicating One's Story

Writing and communicating one's story is crucial. The first act that oppressors do is silence their victims—silencing happens in various oppressive situations, work, relationships, government institutions, etc. I genuinely appreciate Ana's passion for writing; it is truly freedom. My appreciation also relates to my research on Black female slave narratives—these writings were the foundation for freedom in multiple areas of these women's lives.


Community Building Through Writing

One of the most compelling aspects of Ana's work is her focus on community building through writing. As the founder of the Ames Writers Collective, Ana has created a space where writers of all backgrounds can come together, share their stories, and support one another. This community nurtures emerging writers and is healing for many. Ana's initiative, the Swift Youth Poetry Workshops, is a poignant example of how writing can empower young writers and provide a platform for their voices.

Ana at an event with a painting of poet laureate, Amanda Gorman in the background.

Innovative Approach to Writing Workshops

Ana's innovative approach to writing workshops and programs is another highlight. She shared how she uses generative writing prompts to help participants tap into their creativity and express their innermost thoughts. This method, inspired by the Amherst Writers and Artists Method, emphasizes that everyone has a story to tell. It encourages writers to focus on the act of creation rather than the pressure of perfection. This philosophy resonates deeply with me, as it aligns with the core values of INNOVATION Insights – fostering creativity, encouraging continuous learning, and building supportive communities.


The Necessity of Structure for Creative Pursuits

During our conversation, Ana also emphasized the importance of creating deadlines and structure for oneself. As someone who thrives under pressure, Ana recognized that enrolling in an MFA program would provide the necessary framework to complete her memoir. This insight into the necessity of structure for creative pursuits is a valuable lesson for all of us. Whether it's setting personal goals or participating in organized programs, having a clear timeline can significantly enhance productivity and drive.

A smiling Ana sitting at booth representing the Ames Writers Collective

A Multifaceted Skill Set

Ana's diverse background in fashion, fundraising, and event planning has also played a crucial role in her success. Her ability to draw from these experiences to manage the Ames Writers Collective demonstrates the importance of a multifaceted skill set. Ana's story is a testament to the idea that innovation often comes from the intersection of different fields and experiences. This cross-pollination of skills allows for more creative solutions and a broader perspective on problem-solving.


Dedication to Continuous Learning and Growth

Another aspect of our discussion that left a lasting impression on me was Ana's dedication to continuous learning and growth. She frequently participates in writing retreats and workshops, not only as a leader but also as a learner. This commitment to self-improvement and staying current in her field is a powerful reminder that innovation requires an ongoing investment in oneself.

Below are some of my favorite writing prompts from the Ames Writers Collective to help spur your creative writing endeavors. Use these prompts to ignite your creativity and embark on your writing journey. Remember, your story matters.

The Role of Community Support in Fostering Innovation

Our conversation also highlighted the critical role of community support in fostering innovation. Ana's work with cancer patients and young writers illustrates how a supportive environment can empower individuals to overcome challenges and achieve their goals. This reinforces the idea that innovation is not a solitary endeavor but a collective effort that thrives on collaboration and mutual encouragement.


Image of Ana's sunglasses on top of a notepad with a pen.

The Power of Storytelling

Reflecting on my conversation with Ana, I am filled with a renewed sense of inspiration and a deeper appreciation for the power of storytelling. Ana's journey exemplifies how innovation, resilience, and community can create meaningful change. Her ability to harness the power of writing to heal, connect, and inspire is genuinely remarkable. Storytelling is a foundation of INNOVATION Insights, and Ana's story will continue to guide us in our mission.


Exciting Developments for the Ames Writers Collective

We are delighted to congratulate Ana Hays McCracken on acquiring a new home for the Ames Writers Collective! Her dedication and vision reflect her passion for creating a supportive writing community. Exciting developments are ahead for the Ames Writers Collective as they prepare to open their new location in Fall 2024. Stay tuned!

Ana standing in front of the new home of the Ames Writers Collective, June 2024
Ana in front of the new home of the Ames Writers Collective, June 2024

As we continue our work at INNOVATION Insights, Ana's story will serve as a guiding light. Her dedication to fostering creativity and building supportive communities aligns perfectly with our mission. I am grateful for our friendship and the opportunity to share her incredible journey with our audience. I encourage you to listen to her full podcast episode. Her insights and experiences offer valuable lessons for anyone seeking to innovate and positively impact their community. Remember, as Ana has shown us, your story matters.

To view my entire interview with Ana, click here.

Keep writing, keep innovating, and keep making a difference.


Connect with Ana McCracken

Ames Writers Collective:



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