I got the idea for my current work in progress, Balmain in Love, from watching an old man tend the roses at Elkington Park, Balmain. I never spoke to the man so I don’t know why he was taking care of the roses in a park but he sparked an interest in me and I created his back story which was that he had lost his wife and this was his memorial to her. My travelling partner had other ideas and believed that there was treasure under the soil.
The other part of the backstory came from microfiche versions of the Sydney Morning Herald. I was just researching generally for the time period to understand Sydney society in the 50s and 60s (when my main character was a young man) and I chanced upon an advertisement for the Sydney Morning Herald Garden Competition. I decided that it would be an interesting exercise to make my character enter this competition at the behest of his wife.
To do this I needed to understand more about gardening and with a fairly barren front and back yard in my sub-tropical home, I decided to start gardening. Little did I realise that as well as creating an outdoor writing space and giving me an insight into my fictional character, I would find a new creative love for me. Now not a weekend goes by without me going to a nursery or the local trash and treasure markets to find another piece to add to my recycled garden.
Gardening has bought my fictional character a new depth and has bought me a passion that will last long after this novel is finished.
Life seems to move at an ever increasing pace and we move further away from our roots on the land. Writing in fresh air and nature journaling can help to relieve stress. If you’ve never journaled before, then these tips can help you get started and let you discover the grounding effect of nature.
It doesn’t matter what you use. Currently I’m using a Moleskine Classic Large (which I got in an Officeworks sale for $5) but if for some reason I don’t have that with me then I’ve jotted notes on my phone, in a cheap exercise book or on the back of boarding pass.
While consistency of practice is good, don’t make journaling another task on your to do or hold yourself to unrealistic schedules. Being unrealistic or overly strict in your approach to journaling puts yourself at risk of further stress. I journal when something inspires me, when I’m in a new place or when I’m struggling with an issue or anxiety. It can be months between journal entries.
Find some journaling prompts to help you get started. PyschCentral has 30 self reflection and self discovery prompts to help out. I keep print outs of prompts and turn them into flash cards so that I can randomly select a prompt when struggling for an idea. This approach also works for experienced journalers; as it provides an opportunity to deeply reflect on a topic.
Find inspiring places to start your journaling and grounding journal. These do not have to be far flung Indian ashrams but simple local places that speak to you. One of my favourite places to journal is Sea, Salt and Vine Café in Scarborough. Over a coffee or cold drink (depending on the whether) I can people watch, dog watch, look at the water and boats in the harbour or look further out towards the Glasshouse Mountains and Bribe Island. There is no end of inspiration and grounding opportunities.
Another option to get started is to go to a workshop or group. Paperbark Writer runs workshops and nature journaling groups in south east Queensland. Nature journaling combines art and writing. In my journal, I have a very badly drawn baby hippopotamus from a trip to Taronga Park Zoo; this was my first experience of nature journaling and it’s something that I intend continuing.
Benefits of Journaling
Journaling can assist you to work through problems in your life by giving you distance from the problem. By writing your worries and troubles down, you can gain perspective as the emotional reaction is removed from words on paper. By reducing your worries in this way, journaling can assist you to re-ground yourself in the present moment and assist in a journey of mindful living.
A journal can become your secret confidant, you can share those hopes and dreams that you have for your future. By sharing them in the journal, they can begin to move from wishes to concrete actions.
You’re never too old or too young to enjoy the grounding benefits of journaling in nature. Take the plunge and enjoy it.
NB I don’t accept sponsorship for blog posts. Any people, businesses, websites or tools mentioned in my posts are because I personally have found them helpful.
Although it sounds cliched, it is true a journey of a 1,000 miles does indeed start with a single step. In my case, it’s a journey of a 1,000 (or more) keystrokes that was started with 2 fingers: my right pinky on shift and my left pinky on a. Since my earliest days I have loved the written word in all its forms: calligraphy, typewritten, mimeographs with their precious smell, novels, dot matrix print outs, ink and laser jet print outs, the smell of freshly printed and bound marketing materials, non-fiction books, poetry and more recipe books than anyone needs in their lifetime. As well as the enjoyment that devouring the written word has given me, I have also spent many a happy hour whiling away the time developing my own stories, articles and assignments. Yes I am one of the people who gets excited when she sees 5000 words required for an assignment.
The journey I am beginning with this blog post is very close to my heart and soul – it is the beginning of moving towards a life where my gifts and love are shared with the world and my soul sings. My destination, and dear reader I do hope you can join me there in the future, is a writer’s retreat somewhere near a beach, that I own and operate, sharing my gift with others and providing a safe space for personal growth and development. Watch this space and join me on the journey.