As writers, we often spend hours hunched on our desks, awaiting inspiration. I was sitting there too, staring eye-to-eye at a blank paper. It had been almost three weeks since I had written a single verse of poetry.
The words just weren’t coming to me.
Even at my freelancing gig, I was stuck on an article, unsure where to begin, what to write, and how to proceed. I didn’t know what to do, caught in a muddy writing slump.
Hunting new ways of self-care for creators, I stumbled onto research examining the impact of nature on productivity. The paper proved that being near nature can help enhance creative ways of thinking, especially the preparation phase (ideation and/or collecting enough information) and the incubation phase (contemplation) of the creative process.
I remembered all the circular walks I used to take in the park pre-pandemic. But I hardly ever walked in stillness. I used music to drown the noise of cheering children. I decided to give the quiet-do-nothing-else-walk a shot.
I found a desolate park right around the block, empty of people in sunny winter afternoons. So, I took my mask, sprayed my sanitizer, and picked up my diary as I ditched the earphones. Initially, it was nothing extraordinary. I used to think about the tasks pending at home and work, plan my next hour, wonder what I’ll have for dinner, etc.
But after a week or so, my mind quietened. I started noticing the different flowers, unusual leaves, and XXL trees. On an exceptionally bright day, I felt like I was a baby rocking back and forth in nature’s crib. It felt therapeutic, but it didn’t solve my many problems; it just temporarily flew me away from them.
After a couple of weeks, I became familiar with the park. My mind wandered from the neighbor’s window, to the old swing set, and to a (Eureka!) moment of inspiration. I had finally landed on it! The lines of a poem simply showed their face to me. Thankfully, my optimism had allowed me to carry my diary still, and I wrote my fleeting ideas quickly. A couple of days later, I cracked that freelancing-article problem with the strongest Thor-hammer.
I was astonished. I was so sure that this slump might just last indefinitely. Then, I remembered what I had known all along: that nature has been a nurturer of creativity for many authors before me.
Mary Oliver went on long walks in the early mornings with her diary. “I could not be a poet without the natural world,” she said. Whitman celebrated the natural world through his poems like “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” He believed humans are a natural part of the world and will continue to be even after death. Thoreau believed physical engagement with nature had a direct effect on a writer’s prose. Atwood advises either going to sleep or going for a walk when you’re stuck on a story.
I don’t know why nature has continued to birth creative inspiration to creators of all kinds. Maybe the fresh air gets us thinking in a way a static desk cannot. Maybe it is the powerful all-giving sunshine that boosts serotonin. Or maybe it is just the simple fact that being outside can boost mental health.
Whatever the reason, it is a great way to escape, to take a short break, to spend a few minutes in leisure. I always feel rested when I come back from my walk, yet my mind cannot stop popping new ideas or resolve the old ones.
Now, I go to the park at least four times a week. But when there’s too much to tackle, and a blank-paper syndrome is onto me, I know I need to walk a little longer.
Rochi is a staff writer at Elite Content Marketer and a closet poet. If you believe there is nothing that cannot be cured by watching a F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode and relishing fresh poetry, sign up for her weekly newsletter.
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