A Nature Writing Prompt: if you’re bored
by Jeff Oaks
Take a walk out into a park, a large public garden, or into some rural area. Bring your notebook and a couple of pens or a pencil to sketch. DO NOT bring your iPhone or a camera. Try to sketch out the shapes of anything that strikes you as beautiful or interesting. If you have a field guide of some kind, try to identify the species. Try to listen to and notice your surroundings with all your senses. Notice too how your mood might shift in certain spaces and in front of certain plants or animals. Where are there silences? Where are more active spaces? What would happen if you weren’t there?
1). Choose a natural element (water, earth, air, mineral, etc) or specific plant (tree, weed, flower, grass, etc) or geographical feature (field, meadow, creek) and write about it from at least four very different directions. At least one approach should be primarily descriptive. Other approaches might be telling the story of a childhood memory, addressing representations (or absences) of your subject in popular culture, dreams and/or myths, and imagining your subject as a metaphor for something in yourself you’ve never really interrogated. Feel free to mix in scientific names and research, historical facts, and even soundplay.
Ruthlessly avoid cliches unless you’re going to interrogate them.
2). Each section should be at least 100 words and use all the letters of the alphabet at least once somehow.
3). By the end of the piece, try to have written something that you have never written about before.
Here are some examples of writing that might get you moving: