Wild Writing… be inspired by the natural world
April is a great month for getting out of the house to notice how spring is unfurling in our hedgerows, parks and gardens. There is an abundance of wildflowers and sunny days are starting to outnumber the grey. Leaves are beginning to unfurl and very soon woods will be carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic flowers. Bath Spa University student Rosie Crocker offers some ideas for getting more out of your daily walk.
Getting out into nature is a great way to refresh your mind. Mental health charity Mind says spending time outdoors has been found to help with depression and anxiety. Green space and natural light have many positive effects on physical and mental wellbeing, including improving mood, reducing stress, improving confidence and increasing activity levels.
Nature writers use the outdoors to fuel their inspirations by using every sense to take in the world around them. Author of Waterlog, Roger Deakin, spent decades expanding his intimate knowledge of his natural surroundings. He wrote in a notebook, ‘people ask how a writer connects with the land. The answer is through work.’ His journey across Britain in Waterlog, from Norfolk to the Isles of Scilly, caused attitudes toward what is now known as ‘wild swimming’ to shift. Roger’s ‘frog’s eye view’ gave readers a new look at our country’s wildlife and encouraged them to venture out and experience the natural world.
Natasha Carthew, author and artistic director of The Working Class Writers Festival always writes first drafts outside. By using all of her senses to take in her surroundings, she is able to draw on her own memories and experiences to create her characters. Watching people out and about, listening to how they communicate can also help to write realistic dialogue. Like an artist with a sketchbook, Natasha uses the freedom and inspiration of the natural world to craft her writing.
Wild writing is a method of disconnecting from digital devices at the desk and bringing the outside world into our work. It helps with writer’s block, gives us a new perspective, new ideas, clears our heads and so much more. Natasha Carthew has shared some tips on how to get started with wild writing:
- Dress weather-appropriately. Remember, sitting outside is going to be a lot colder than a brisk walk.
- Take a notebook and pencil/phone (preferably on do not disturb mode) to write any thoughts or ideas that come to you.
- Sit somewhere sheltered so you won’t get sunstroke or your notebook taken by 40-mile-hour winds.
- Views are good, the more perspective you have the more you see.
- Even if you aren’t writing, just sitting and watching the world go by will inspire ideas/snippets which you can take back with you.
- It’s always worth taking a waterproof bag or something to sit on in case the grass is wet!
We invite you to take a walk, perhaps a local park, the woods or any green space. If you want to have a go at writing, maybe take a notebook in your pocket. While you’re walking, maybe pause and look up at the trees or down at the flowers beneath your feet. Take a deep breath, maybe you can smell fresh rain or wild garlic. Consider how the soft grass or woody path feels beneath your feet. Once you’ve found somewhere comfortable to sit, why not close your eyes and listen for birdsong or squirrels jumping between the trees? Think about how you would describe what you can see, smell, feel and hear. Watch dog-walkers or runners as they go by, could these be influences for characters?
Share your wild writing experiences with us on social media – @TheBathFestival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter