Wild Writing

Understanding your subject

So nature writing really begins with understanding your subject. Researching what you are going to write about before you venture out into the open is equally important. Once you have acquired this rudimentary knowledge the nature recording begins and the fun really starts.
Writing about what you see, what you feel, what appears fascinating, what is strange, what is different to your knowledge of the subject and so on is the best part of the craft. The nature writer is a prober but also a discoverer. It may begin with a planned or casual event, but observation fundamentally involves examining beyond the boundaries of what you would normally expect. You have to be curious and are willing to dig deeper and record even the tinniest or obscurest details; once you learn this, then you’ll employ the skills unconsciously. I suppose it’s similar for wildlife photographers, who always look beyond the obvious for those perfect shots.


Knowing behaviour can help with your writing as well as providing images for your narrative Synaema globosum (Dahl, 1907) Gibraltar.

Writing about nature involves many other observations and experiences, including those from other individuals. You’re not restricted to your own reflections but can gain experience and knowledge from what scientists and amateur naturalists have discovered, but the focus should always return to your own observations, the writer. You as the teacher form part of the natural world and it’s your job to make these experiences captivating enough to draw the reader into your world and at the same time amaze them. As you form part of the habitat you not only learn about nature, but you also learn from it, and that’s a great understanding and respect that gives nature writers a positive and encouraging tone , and point of view. You are the communicator and your wisdom of life found in nature must be true and informative as well as captivating and fun.
It’s vital that you love nature as well committed to develop a personal relationship with it. This is the same for writers of other genres or literary styles. The languages and forms of nature writing are wide and varied, but each seeks to share similarities with what the writer feels and knows by living with it.

Patience really is a virtue and open to challenges, as the wild is unpredictable and environments are sometimes dangerous. You may need to camp out over night to see badger behaviour or have to watch as a predator pounds on you much love mammal. The world of nature is not forbearing, it’s hard and unrestrained. It’s morality that separates humans from the animal kingdom, so nature should be respected for it.
Just like any forms of writing, the most valued tool is a journal. Keep one with you at all times; sleep with it if you have too. It is your entry into the world and also the extractor of your inspiration and important data. A note, even if you have latest technology like iPads etc. It’s always good to have a non-energy source-demanding backup (and of course, a pen).

Another important tool for the nature writer is a trusty camera. You don’t have to be a pro to take photos, or have the top model. A compact is just as useful. Shots can be used for different purposes; especially in helping to refresh your memory which will also act as an aid for describing your environment. Images can also add depth to your writing and your readers will be able to visualise what you have seen and adds flavour to your work. After all, the natural world is largely observational and visual, so give some of it to your readers.

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