Springtime —’tis the season of budding trees, green grass, little bouts of rain and thunder. The bees are buzzing back. The sky is blue. This time of regrowth and return is such rich material for writers. Nature is the one place where we can return to the basics and reflect on those processes that shape our world, without the constant noise of clocks, cars, and people. Like music and photography, nature is an avenue we can use to reflect on our lives, which encourages the creation of refreshing writing. Here are two exercises you can use to vivify your next writing project.
1. Take a nature walk. One of the simplest activities is taking a walk in an area with lots of natural features. The great thing? The world is a place full of extraordinary landscapes. There is a feature for everyone’s standard of natural beauty, whether that means the Appalachian Mountains or the small band of trees behind your neighborhood. Using a pen and notebook, write about everything that you see: the way the leaves flutter in the wind, the way the water moves in a stream, maybe even the way that squirrel is looking at you as you walk by. Write down all of the phrases and words that come to your mind. Observe the natural music on your walk, too—rushing water, rustling leaves, chirping birds, etc.
Another cool method is approaching your nature walk like a researcher (something explored in-depth by Keri Smith, author of How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum). This method entails collecting all objects that inspire curiosity in you: a busted paper cup, twigs, shiny rocks, a glass bottle. The list can contain anything, really (but be safe!). Place them into a small bag and document them. Focus on the existence of the object. What does it look like? What happened to the object for it to look like it does? If this object could talk, what stories would it tell you?
2. Compile a collection of natural images. Sometimes weather conditions aren’t so conducive for nature walks. Luckily, the Internet allows us to see and hear nature right from home. Similar to our blog post titled “3 Ways Photography Can Assist Your Writing,” you can try browsing the many images and videos stored on search engines like Google. Corral your finds into a word document or a folder. If you use Pinterest, create a board for solely natural imagery. You could also take your own photography, emphasizing nature’s small (or large!) wonders that interest you.
If you prefer something a little more hands on, you could also cut images from magazines and make a collage. Perhaps you cut an image of an evergreen tree, and superimpose that upon a desert scene. The possibilities are endless. Let your imagination take you to new places, especially those based in the question that starts it all: what if?
Here are some links to get you thinking about nature this spring: