Are you feeling lost and dissociated from nature? Are you looking to sharpen your perceptions of the natural world through nature journaling?
Then step forth as we explain what it is and how to go about it!
Well, What is It?
A nature journal is a place where you can write or draw in response to the natural world. In this way, nature journals are things that can capture your feelings when you are out walking in nature. Taking a moment on such excursions to capture it through you as a conduit can be a really rewarding experience, enhancing your appreciation of yourself and nature.
This doesn't just have to be in words, though, for you can whatever medium you desire to fill a nature journal with all the things that nature makes you think and feel.
Why Nature Journal?
The practice of nature journaling has been shown to soothe adults, helping through the visual and language arts to calm the mind and improve the mind's attention to detail. Thanks to the work of nature journalers like John Muir Laws, this practice has more and more seen the light of day, allowing adults to stop and observe nature in all its glory.
Much like John Berger with his Ways of Seeing permanently changed the way we look at the world around us, to incorporate nature journaling into our lives is to sharpen our intellect and our ability to discern what is around us.
What to Write in a Nature Journal
1. How nature makes you feel
To teach nature journaling to yourself, try describing how your body felt when you last spent time in nature. Were you more relaxed and calm than usual? Did you, instead, feel a sense of discomfort and dissociation? Were you inclined to explore nature further or did you just want to go home?
2. What you see around you
Writing what you see around you in as much detail as possible can be a great way to use a nature journal to remember a moment of how you felt or thought it rather than just taking a photograph.
You can even draw what you see or a spot of note around you, even fusing word and image to make your own blend of vision that better suits the particular emotions and thoughts coursing through you at that moment. Nature observations like this can contribute to a nature study as well as to a study of the self.
3. Synaesthesia with nature
Eventually, you will get to the point where your senses are really tuning in and communing with the nature around you, the nature around you activating almost all of your senses at one moment or another.
Try exercising as many of your senses as possible and chronicle how those things feel in your journal. How, for example, does the bark of a tree feel against your fingertips? Do you have a few supplies do you have that can relate to this feeling and to communicate it with your nature journal? Is there anything edible around you like berries? How do they taste? What smells accompany this experience?
4. Drawing what you see
As already elucidated above, if you are more visually inclined, then you can always try capturing what is in front of you in a natural journal. All you need is a pencil and perhaps some other things to get started - anything that you think is going to help you more accurately capture the view of what is before you and whatever that makes you think and feel is worth bringing along.
Try adding color if you think you are able - you want your own journal to be as vibrant as possible and to capture as best you can the vividness of the experience in its purest form.
5. Adding actual nature
What better way to start nature journaling than to use nature itself as the material by which you capture it?
While it is generally frowned upon to do harm to the environment around you - i.e. picking flowers that are owned by someone else - it is not off the cards to collect some souvenirs from your excursions in nature to give your journal entries an authentic feel. This can include anything from leaves on the ground to bits of bark and even dead bugs if you are feeling particularly necrophilic.
6. Using nature quotes
If you are going to rely on the tools of nature to give your field journal an authentic feel, then you can always use the resources of other writers to build up a strong and certified image of your belief in nature.
If nature is a real passion of yours, then chances are you already know a whole bunch of writers who either dedicate their craft to writing about nature or have otherwise been known to seal it in words better than the rest. There are many cliched examples, but the real magic comes in finding your own that are more personal to you. Heck, even use your own and sample yourself.
7. Making a list of observations
If all the other options above have proven a little too difficult for you at first, you can always try simple lists as a way of chronicling all the things that you observe before you. Cataloging the world before you in such a way can be a helpful way of practicing your observational abilities while simultaneously learning a little about the things that your eyes and mind tend to prioritize from the information set before you.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now ready to saddle up and perceive your best!
FAQs Nature Journaling
WHAT DO YOU WRITE IN A NATURE JOURNAL?
A nature journal is a way for you to explore the things that nature makes you think and feel. This is usually done while out in nature and surrounded by it wherein you write or draw or otherwise capture that which is around you and how it makes you feel at the time, as well as what it might otherwise conjure up in your mind.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF NATURE JOURNALING?
There are plenty of benefits to nature journaling, especially if you are someone who lives in a metropolitan area where there is little to no exposure to nature. Such journaling allows you to make the most of your time in nature when it does occur and sharpens your perceptions too.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF NATURE JOURNALING?
The real value of nature journaling will vary from person to person. For some, it is the ability to sharpen one's senses that appeals to them about nature journaling. Others simply want to feel more connected to nature.