The next time you look at notebook and feel less than enchanted by the prospect of writing, go outside. Turn your back on your desk, your books, and your notebooks. Give yourself at least an hour – two hours is even better.
Wear good shoes and a warm hat, but let your arms swing free. Leave the following things behind: your shopping bags, your snacks, your purse/wallet, your cell phone, your camera. Do not bring your iPad, a magazine, or anything else that will distract you from what you are about to do.
Being in nature is not an elective. It is a necessary part of being the animal you are.
The magic part is this: when you let yourself leave words and thoughts behind and let yourself run hard and fast like a dog, walk slowly in the sun like a cat, scramble through leaves like a squirrel, or simply stand perfectly still and listen, like a rabbit, you leave words out of your experience, and invite deep insight.
Being in nature connects you to your nature.
You connect most deeply to the human experience when you become focused in this physical, sense-connected, un-ambitious way. You are simply being yourself, the way an animal is always itself. This is your mind without language, a feeling-state that exists without judgment or naming or articulation.
Ironically, this is the state of mind that is most conducive to your writing.
Go outside. Go for a walk – somewhere where there are trees and birds and not so much packaging. City parks will do in a pinch, but if you live in an urban area, it’s better if you can get to a big park, like Central Park, Stanley Park or High Park – a place you can get lost in. A trail that wanders without purpose is better than a circular path.
It could take you about an hour to get a quiet head. Depending on how active your mind is, and how practiced you are at watching your thoughts and releasing them, it might take you even longer. Focus on small things to help bring your state of mind back: the texture of tree bark, the sound of a sparrow.
This is not “for” anything. This is just being. Okay? Let yourself do this.
It’s become easy to separate ourselves from the natural world — we don’t appear to need it, in part because we have computers with us all the time. But we do, we really really do need it.
Those of you who own dogs – you know this! A writer with a dog is a lucky writer, because when you forget that you’re connected to nature, your dog will remind you, repeatedly, that you are, you are, you are.
Your dog is so wise. Now get out there.
Pay attention to your writing.Show up. Write more often. Make it good.
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