Finding Your Special Place: Writing in Nature

I believe that when you write, if it’s something you love and feel passionate about, you’ll make time for writing, no matter how busy your schedule. But I also know that sometimes we need a special place to kick start our energy levels, think about our process, or to help us rediscover the joy.

Nature and animals play a big part of my everyday life; I live in rural West Cork on a farm next to the sea, and I also grow my own vegetables and catch my own fish. This is a dream come true for me and it helps me get lots of exercise and fresh air in between my writing sessions. It provides balance.

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One of the views from the Blue Mountains National Park during my Varuna Residency

Even though I grew up in a council estate with very little greenery, I was always fascinated by nature and managed to find it in the unlikeliest of places: weeds growing in pavement cracks, ladybirds on the fence, caterpillars hiding under dock leaves, moths behind the curtains, the robin that came to steal the milk by pecking its way through the bottle top. Wherever you are, nature can be found.

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My dog & a newt that I rescued from his water bowl

Nature makes me feel settled and calm, and even though I love city life too, I find the countryside provides more headspace and also less distractions, so I get lots of writing and lots of reading done. I work from home so I don’t have a commute, which means that breaks can be used for weeding, or walking the dog on the hills or the nearest beach.

The beauty of books is that they transport you to other worlds, and no matter where you are, you can travel to anywhere you want. This is how I feel about being in nature also – I find it freeing. It allows a release. Sometimes it can be difficult to tune in, but walk somewhere wild and soon your surroundings will mesmerize you; whatever worries or concerns you have will melt away.

Although I love it, I can’t always be outdoors – it’s not practical. I’d never get a book finished! I have a room where I write – it’s a tiny room in a mobile home, but it’s mine. Undisturbed, organised, filled with small inspiring trinkets like pebbles collected from beaches and paintings by friends. When I walk in this room I switch my brain to writing – I can leave my other duties and responsibilities outside. My desk faces a (sky blue) wall and, unsurprisingly, there are four framed flower pictures at eye level, so whenever I look up, I still see nature.

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Deadlines looming – a long walk always helps, whatever the weather

I type my novels directly onto my computer, but one of my biggest pleasures is getting away from the desk, and taking long walks with a notebook. Sometimes it is to unravel a plot problem, but usually, it’s to find new ideas or start new projects. Sitting on a grass bank, with rushes whispering behind me, the words flow. And they’re different words to those I would find at my desk. There’s a freedom in going where your feet take you, letting your mind wander too.

Not everyone will be inspired by nature, but I do believe that everyone needs a special place where they can retreat to – to reenergize, to concentrate, to think freely. It could be a busy café, an art gallery, a train; whatever works for you. Understanding your own process and what inspires you and your writing is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. I’d love to know – what is your special creative space?

It’s not all writing, writing, writing

I have chosen to live in a beautiful, countryside village so that I can enjoy the wonderful natural surroundings and the warm sense of community. I love cities, but I love country life too, and after years of city living, I’ve happily adjusted to my life in rural Ireland.

Although writing is part of my everyday life, so is enjoying the beauty around me. I make sure that I take walks every day; I watch the patterns as seasons change, the habits of birds, the cloud formations. And I also try to make use of the space and resources the best I can to stay balanced and grounded in a world that’s full of technology and social media.

Since signing a book deal, watching the physical book take shape and the sending it out into the world, a lot of my posts have focused on my writing. So, seeing a sI think balance is so important, here’s a brief escape from words and a return to the natrural world.

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Plenty of seed dug up, ready for next year

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Outdoor lettuce looking healthy enough, along with rhubarb (& weeds!)

making apple cider

Lots of sweet apples, windfall & picked, for making cider. Currently fermenting…

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The onions did well again this year – we have a whole wall to last through the winter

greenhouse growing

Lack of sun meant that the chillies and peppers are way behind. Just starting to fruit now! I’ll be amazed if we get any but I’ll keep trying 🙂

autumn leaves

Autumn is definitely here.