“Writers need nature,” writes novelist Tina Welling in her stunning, prompt-filled book Writing Wild: Forming A Creative Partnership with Nature. We need nature because it grounds us. Because it takes us out of our minds—where writers tend to live—and “pulls us back into our bodies,” Welling writes.
“We each have rhythms within us. Breath draws in and presses out, heart beats, blood pulses, eyes blink, muscles clench and relax, over and over, with a rhythm that reflects our thoughts and emotions. By spending time in the natural world, we can more easily sense these bodily rhythms, become conscious of them, and in doing so, we also become conscious of nature’s parallel rhythms. Tree boughs dip and sway, wind moves, sun glints off leaves and water, blossoms open and close, roots push down, sprouts push up, spiders weave, birds sing, and bees hum, all to a rhythm that reflects nature’s aliveness,” Welling writes.
Of course, being in nature, reflecting on nature, is vital for everyone, whether you’re a writer or not. Below are four ways you can reconnect to nature from Welling’s Writing Wild, which thereby helps you reconnect to yourself. Use these prompts as inspiration for different characters, plot lines and stories. Use them as inspiration to savor your days. And if you have kids, get them involved, too. They just might teach you a thing or two about enjoying and better understanding your natural surroundings.
- Focus on the weather. Write down what you see, smell, feel and hear. Focus, too, on how your body responds. Maybe your bones ache from the dampness in the air. Also, write down your predictions for the weather for the rest of the day.
- Draw an outline of a human body on a piece of paper. Inside draw different images from nature, such as nests, leaves, flowers, feathers, mountains, stars.
- Step outside several times a day, and focus on the four elements. To explore “air,” consider the sounds you hear the breeze carrying; the scents you detect; and the direction of the wind. To explore “earth,” consider whether the earth is frozen, wet or dry. “Become aware of the support the earth offers your body; feel your feet on the ground, and pull your awareness up through your legs and spine, and out the crown of your head.” To explore “fire,” consider the location of the sun or moon. Consider how it changes with the time and season. Consider tracking the phases of the moon. To explore “water,” consider if there’s moisture in the leaves or if there’s dew on the plants and flowers. Consider if you feel moisture in the air.
- Think of an animal you saw recently or one that pops into mind. Describe the traits you might have in common. Write a paragraph or two about them. For instance, maybe you’re as loyal as a dog. Maybe you’re as diligent and persistent as an ant. Maybe you’re as particular as a cat.
Use these prompts as inspiration to create your own activities around nature. Or simply enjoy taking a walk outside this week, and use your senses to savor it. There is so much beauty around us on a regular basis. Bring your attention to some of it—even if for a few minutes. You certainly won’t regret it.