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Write every day: Nature writing activity

“When you write, you lay out a line of words…Soon you find yourself deep in new territory.” ~Annie Dillard

On Sunday I took an online nature writing class and we did an exercise I wanted to share with all of you. Not only is it helpful for science writing, but it can really help with any piece of writing—first draft to tenth draft! Here’s how it goes:

1.) Place a small item in the middle of a piece of paper. This can be anything – a leaf, an acorn, a shell, a coin, a photograph. Anything at all.

2.) Begin to map the ideas, associations, and memories that come to you observe and think about this item. Follow trains of thought for as long as you’d like, connecting the flow of ideas with arrows or lines to form a type of web or mind map if you’d like. There are no wrong answers. Take 10-15 minutes for this.

3.) Choose one point on the web that is outside of the center, a few steps removed from your item, and write for 5 minutes with that point as your starting place. (You don’t need to write directly about your item, but you certainly can!) Now choose a different point on the web and begin writing from there. (You can do this as many times as you’d like).

4.) Finally, spend 10-15 minutes writing a reflection that begins with the center of your web, with your natural item. Drawing both on your web and on your previous shorter writings, see where your imagination takes you.

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