Wild Writing

Lastly, when you’re in doubt as a non-fiction writer, and feel down in the dumps thinking if your writing holds any merit at all, or you just feel like an awful writer. Rob Macfarlane has some great advice and I quote: “When writing, be prepared to “copiously self-medicate with doubt and arrogance.” In other words, when you are doubtful that what you are writing has merit, go and find something you are proud of having written and re-convince yourself that you are a great writer”.


Orkney: Some photos can do the description for you. Okay…we can ignore the person in this shot for this once.

Summing up, if nature writing is your cup of tea then start simply by observing the environment around you from different perspectives. Even if it’s just down the supermarket. Start looking outside of the box, e.g. think hard about aromas, what can you smell? The behaviour of others and how they react. It’s skills like these which are invaluable. They will enhance your abilities to interact with the natural world for the wonder it really is. Then it’s up to you, and your trusty pen.

A note on education

It’s not necessary to have an undergraduate qualification to become a nature writer, but it is useful as you will follow a structured programme. Even one or two day courses offered by various institutions can aid in your development. Check out your local education authority.

If I had the chance to go back to university and pick an undergraduate course that would assist an ambition to become a nature writer it would be hard to pinpoint a specific programme (after all, mine is health related), but it would involve some aspect of the natural world. The University of Glamorgan offers a BSc (HONS) in Natural History http://courses.glam.ac.uk/courses/67-bsc-hons-natural-history and this seems to be the ideal primer, but a degree in Natural History Photography could be just as important in developing the required observational skills. Also, a BA in Creative Writing or English wouldn’t be far wrong either because whereas knowledge of the natural environment is important, writing about it is also another skill you need to master.

After a brief search on the Internet I have managed to source a few specific MA courses for those aspiring nature writers to visit; those who feel they need refinement of skills.

  1. MA Travel and Nature Writing
  2. MA Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment
  3. MA Wild Writing: Literature and the Environment

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