The Art of Noticing
Journaling has been a part of my life for many years. As a kid I wrote everything down, I doodled excessively, and wrote songs and poems to express my emotions, it became a way to help me process what was happening in my life. Now that I am an adult, journaling is still an important part of my daily routine as a way to process what happens during each day as well as plan for the future.
But there's a type of journaling I want to introduce you to today: Nature Journaling. The possibilities are endless for observation, emotional processing, and creativity.
But before we get into how you can use your nature journal for planning purposes, let's talk about what nature journals are and why they're so awesome!
What is Nature Journaling?
Nature journaling is a form of art that allows you to combine your love for nature with your passion for writing. It's a way to practice mindfulness, connect with nature, and reflect on the beauty around you.
Nature journaling does not involve making a bunch of pretty pictures and then calling it a day. It's about finding ways to document your experience in the natural world through writing or drawings so that you can remember those experiences later on.
What materials do you need to start your nature journal?
A great notebook is a great way to start your nature journal. You can keep it in a backpack or purse and pull it out whenever inspiration strikes. If you're going on an adventure and want to take pictures, the notebook will be with you wherever you go!
You'll also need some pencils/pencils/drawing materials. The choice of materials is optional. Colored pencils, charcoal, pastels, etc. The guide features my full list of recommendations, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.
The next thing is a water bottle! This is important because if you don't hydrate enough while doing art, your body gets tired and doesn't want to do anything because it's like energy drinks or something (you know what I mean). You might think this doesn't apply to adults but seriously people need water as well as children so don't be lazy about this step okay?
Download the FREE E guide here to get access to my nature journal shopping list!
Where can you go to start nature journaling?
If you're looking for the best time of year, place, or weather conditions to go outdoors and nature journal, the answer is: Anytime is the right time. Nature journaling isn't about picking a specific season or location because it's aesthetically pleasing; it's about observing what's happening in nature around you. It's about being with the changes, not avoiding them.
So don't worry about when or where to start your new hobby—just get outside and start!
How do you get started?
The good news is, there's no right answer here, a nature journal can be whatever you want it to be. But I'll give you a few prompts to get you started.
1. Pick a day, any day, and set aside some time to go for a walk outside.
2. Take your journal with you and find a comfortable spot to sit down and relax.
3. Start by quietly observing the area around you; take note of the colors, sounds, smells, and anything else that stands out to you.
this is where, at times, I can catch myself trying to find the 'easiest' thing to draw. or the most aesthetically pleasing. My challenge, for myself and for you, is to sit quietly and allow yourself to get bored.
I know it can be hard to imagine but boredom is the gateway to creativity. However, when you allow yourself to be still, your mind will naturally wander and this is when you start noticing things that are really cool, like how many different shades of green there are in a forest or how a spider builds its web so intricately. If you don't have anything particularly interesting around you, just think about what's going on for other living creatures in the area—what are they doing? How does this place fit into the bigger picture?
4. Write your observations down in your journal.
You can start by writing down what you see, hear and feel. Or whatever comes to mind.
Next, draw what you see. You can:
identify plants and animals around you
explore color and textures at a micro or macro level
draw portraits of your fellow naturalists.
record plant and animal stages to track their phenology over the seasons.
You could even use this time to focus on practicing drawing or painting skills you’ve been wanting to develop.
If everything is too overwhelming, begin with one or two things at a time, here are a few nature journaling prompts to get you started, if you want more, download my free guide with 100 Nature Journal prompts here:
-What do I see?
-What is the weather like today?
-How does this space make me feel?
-If I were to give a name to this place, what would it be and why?
In this exercise there is no right answer; just mind stream on whatever comes to mind as you walk outside with your journal in hand!
If you want to add a little extra flair, bring your camera and take pictures of the things you find most interesting. You can then use these images to help enhance or reflect on your journaling endeavors.
You can enjoy the creative aspect of journaling, the adventure of being outside, and the mindfulness of living more in the present.
Nature journaling combines the creative aspect of journaling with the mindfulness benefits of being outside. You get to enjoy the adventure of being in nature and recording your experiences, which can help you live more in the present.
It’s also a great way to focus on your goals and creativity—by writing down what you want to accomplish, you give yourself a plan that will help motivate you towards those goals. If it helps, make some notes about how being outside will help inspire those goals as well!
In addition to all these benefits, nature journaling is also good for developing an appreciation for nature. When we take time out of our busy lives to slow down and appreciate what’s around us, we can reap amazing physical and mental benefits—and finding ways for children (who may be less likely than adults) to do this is truly important!
Nature journaling is a wonderful way to explore life and nature. The act of writing down your thoughts can help you understand where the mind goes, what you see around you, and how you feel about different environments. It can also be a very peaceful activity for anyone who enjoys being outside or appreciates nature as much as we do!