Five Tips For Writing About Nature
Writing about nature
When we write about nature, we need to know exactly what we're writing about. There are two main ways to get that information.
One way is to research the topic. We could read books, do internet research, or interview other people. We'll get second-hand information, some of which may be worth sharing.
The second way is to experience nature ourselves. We can get out into it, go meet that tiger, and surround ourselves with the beauty we want to express in words. We can get excited and do our nature writing while we're still full of enthusiasm. This will help us prepare articles people will really enjoy reading.
An astute writer who wants to write about nature with authority and sensitivity will use both these methods together, however this list of five tips focuses on writing about nature by experiencing it.
David Rains Wallace's direct experience of nature in the Northern California wilderness produced this award-winning nature journal:
1. Write from experience
There's no better way to write about nature than to be in it. Explore the world, get caught up in it, and experience its fragrance. Take a trip to the great outdoors, meet new animal friends, and revel in Earth's beauty.
Sitting in an office with the computer and four walls just won't do. Computers emit EMFs and that's certainly a type of nature we could write about, but for most of our nature writing, we're not going to find the best research opportunities indoors. A houseplant or two may cheer up our interior environments, but outdoors the plant life is abundant.
To really express what nature is, how it looks and the feelings it evokes in you, being in the wild wilderness or even a cultivated garden, or with your rabbit, or in a cave full of bats is best. What focus of nature do you love most? Is it the animals, the plants, the clouds, the mountains or... something else? Go there! Be there! See what you want to write about and write about what you see.
You need experience to really understand what you're focused on expressing in words. If you only read about a flower on the internet or in the encyclopedia, can you detect a fragrance? Can you tell us if the stem is thin or thick? Can you lean over and look at its stamens and count them while inhaling its beauty?
There's nothing quite as effective as direct experience when you're writing about nature.
A Moleskine nature journal can be a most treasured companion:
2. Have a nature journal for describing what you experience
While you're out in the world, rather than just sitting quietly and observing, have a notebook you can pull out and write in. I like to keep my nature writing journal in my backpack for use while hiking or going on longer journeys. Nature journaling can become a way of life, one that will enrich your consciousness and soothe your soul.
Write about what you see, how you feel about what you see, the sounds, the scents, and everything else you perceive. Don't fret about writing the perfect description; instead, have fun putting words together in odd ways to fully express what you're experiencing in nature. Like with any form of writing, when nature writing, discard the inner editor and let your playful inner child create the first draft.
Your notebook can be a rich source of impressive descriptive writing. As it is written on the spot, it will be much more expressive and meaningful than something written that night when you're back home with your computer.
Years or months later you may refer back to your nature journaling experiences and find passages worthy of sharing with the world. As you revisit them, you'll once again see the sights, experience the feelings, and revel in the joy of being in that place or with that plant or creature.
Know the subject of your nature writing - it really matters!
3. Get up close and personal
While you're there, look closely at your subject whether it's a goldfish, redwood tree, or mountain. Walk right up to it. Feel it. Put your arms around that tree, dig in that dirt, move some rocks around, put your face down close to the pond and try to create a relationship with the goldfish.
What specific characteristics appeal to you? As you observe your subject think about what pulls at your heart. What excites you about your subject? Write about what you find most intriguing.
Write about nature enthusiastically so the joy of your discovery is reflected in the words you share. That's done by getting excited about nature! Don't just dryly recite a few facts. No! You must love nature, and then your nature writing will have real impact.
Your readers look to you for details, so while you're out in nature become intimate with every aspect of your subject. The closer you get to nature, the more you'll notice and write about.
Writers need active imaginations
4. Get your imagination in gear
While you're experiencing nature, imagine what might happen next, or imagine a scenario that might have happened in the past. Write that the river has a history - dark knights boating downstream to a certain defeat, or wild birds nesting there for centuries of peace without human contact.
Envision the feeling of the place in scenarios of your own choosing. Do you feel you're in the perfect place for a UFO landing? Does it look like Bigfoot might be hiding in the woods?
Metaphoric ramblings may work to express to your readers what you're really feeling about where you're at. Use your imagination to further describe the vibrations you sense while in the moment. Do you sense danger? ...joy? ...ephemeral nothingness? Write it all down.
Meditation can help deepen your nature writing experience
While you're experiencing and writing about nature, take time to meditate enough to get in touch with your deepest feelings. How can you really know about nature -- how can you write and express something unique that you've found there -- unless you're aware of what's happening in your emotional and spiritual bodies?
Close your eyes, still your mind, and look between the experiences for what's most real to you. Then write about those feelings in relation to what's going on. Know your most important issues and express them in the piece you're developing. Your nature writing will take on a specialized focus, and you can build on that theme.
This page created by Linda Martin of Perspectives on Writing
- Perspectives on Writing | Writers, Writing About Writing
Perspectives on Writing offers articles about writing to writers looking for fresh inspiration as they progress in their writing careers. Submissions of short articles about writing are welcome. There is a bi-monthly writing contest for Perspectives
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