Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nature Journaling: A New Journal and a New Journaling Project

In the comments to my last Nature Journaling series post (which was almost a year ago--where does the time go?), Rachel asked, "Do you mainly sketch or do you add writing and/or poetry to these experiences as well?" I meant to respond with a whole post on writing in the nature journal, but, well, things get away from one, don't they? 

Historically, I've written or drawn in my nature journals as the spirit moved me--sometimes leaning more toward words, other times toward pictures. Writing has included mini-essays, rants, poetry, random thoughts, lists (of plants, birds, sounds, sights, etc.), descriptions of things I see or events from my day, quotes from fields guides (to aid memory), and whatever other random sorts of things come to me at the time.

But recently, I've started a new journal with the goal of writing every single day for the next year. It's kind of a side-bar to what I plan to do for my third-semester project.

I'm going into this journal with the intention to write more deliberately and with purpose than I have in past journals (although you can see there's still plenty of drawing going on, as well as photographs and contributions from other members of the family).

I have several goals in mind with the daily journaling:

1) To get me out into nature more (many of the first few entries went something along the lines of "I didn't get outside at all today, except to walk back and forth to my car"; already I'm getting outside in a much more regular manner if for no other purpose than to make my journal entries more interesting).

2) To get me to slow down and pay attention when I am outside.

3) To get me outside in nature with my kids more and to slow down and pay attention to them while we're there.

4) To work on better describing the natural world and natural phenomena, and using metaphor in my fiction. (I just read the selected stories of Katherine Mansfield and she was amazing at this).

The topic that I intend to focus on for my third-semester project is women writers who write about both motherhood and nature (Louise Erdrich's The Blue Jay's Dance, for example), with of course the end result of me doing so in my own work. 

It's been nearly a month since I started this journal, and I've managed to make an entry every single day (sometimes crouching in the bathroom at 10 p.m., so as not to disturb anyone, and sketching the moon out the window). What's more, I look forward to it, as a quiet, calming moment in my day, a time to be mindful or reflective, a time to focus on something other than what is required or expected from my days.

If you keep a nature journal, what sorts of things do you write about?

Do you have any favorite authors who incorporate nature writing and motherhood writing in either fiction, nonfiction or poetry?

Edited to add: 


  1. What a beautiful journal. I just started a new one and am trying to consolidate some old stuff into it--it's hard to find something that works for everything I want it to.

  2. Yay for you!

    You are one of my favorite writers who incorporates nature into their writing!

    Trying to think of more, but my brain has turned to mush.

  3. Andrea, I don't do this, but you're really inspiring me to try it. I've sort of always had this voice in the back of my mind that says that I don't know how to draw. But the truth is that I really like drawing and I'm not horrible at it. I almost never do it though--only when I'm making a project with my kids. Maybe I will try this. Maybe you mentioned this, but are you giving yourself a certain minimum number of minutes to spend doing this every day? And is the writing solely about nature? I'm going to go re-read your post.

  4. @Meryl--Thanks! Yeah, sometimes you just need multiple journals going on at once for multiple purposes.

    @LSM--You are too sweet!! :)

    @Jaimie--Yes, do it! You can draw and even if you can't, who cares? (Try using your left hand or doing a blind contour, where you don't look at the page at all. It will override your left brain). I haven't set a minimum time. Sometimes it's literally five minutes. Sometimes it's an hour or more (like when we're sitting on the beach or camping and I have an hour for such things). All pretty much no rules. I do just write about nature (or myself or my kids in relation to nature, what they/we are doing in nature, or something I'm inspired to write about while out in nature). I have another journal/writer's notebook where I write other stuff.

  5. I'm not being sweet - I want submissions!


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