Nature and Human Nature
7 March 2014
Yesterday in class I remember wanting so much to talk about how physically confined I felt being an English major made me. It wasn’t until my sophomore creative writing class when a writing exercise forced us to take our notebooks outside that I realized how much of an inspiration the outdoors could be for my writing.
The prompt had us to write out on a sunny September day for the duration of an eighty-minute class. We had to describe in great detail the campus quad, proceeding to tell what those sights made us feel. What I found about my writing was not only that I found my descriptive skills to be improving, but my own myth about feeling I would only be distracted by some sort of natural sensory overload was debunked. I found the more I forced myself to write outside, the easier I could take those distractions, and actually use them separately to my advantage when I needed details of them described in my writing. Not only that, but ever since that first outdoor writing exercise, I truly have felt my attention has improved.
I remember distinctly on several occasions talking to other English majors in that class as well as to my author aunt that I felt what a shame it was that technology was forcing us into an innate need continually to be stimulated by entertainment. I felt that was the biggest impediment in my writing development. I couldn’t write more than four sentences without thinking of that episode of Scrubs from last night, or wanting to check my new smart phone to see if there was anything of importance on my Facebook newsfeed.
Foremost, I knew this state of mind wasn’t helping any progress I could be making toward my dream career, so at the time I was hungry for a solution (and preferably one that didn’t involve being prescribed ADD meds). Writing outside was that happy antidote.
I think this realization also ties into the proposed second part of the prompt Dr. Kelrick mentioned on Tuesday’s class: Have you recently felt the same childhood contentment (this being in accordance to the first part of the question that we did discuss in yesterday’s class)? I feel exceedingly content when I can derive a good idea in my writing from the surrounding natural stimuli when I do write outdoors. This is the only time during which I know I’m fighting the battle against technology’s hold on my attention. Though it is difficult when the harsher winter has made it so that the only time I do write outside is during this journaling exercise for my JINS course, which seldom requires more than two trips a month to write at the uni farm. I know the thoughts of contentment which occurred to me during yesterday’s class will keep me on track with writing outside, where I know I’m investing most avidly for the good in my writing capabilities.