Tips for Writing Outdoors-Inspired Poetry

During summer, many enjoy spending time outside. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or simply enjoy occasionally sitting in your backyard, the outdoors provides endless creative opportunities for your writing practice. In honor of National Great Outdoors Month this June, here are some tips to help you write outdoors-inspired poetry.


Research locations


Although you can easily find inspiration in your immediate surroundings, visiting different outdoor spaces might spark ideas for your poetry. Exploring new environments can unlock poetic narratives you’d otherwise not be privy to. To start, create a list of trails or parks near where you live. Note the spaces you feel particularly inspired by or drawn to, then visit them multiple times, allowing yourself to develop a deeper emotional and personal connection to the location.


Be mindful of the supplies you bring


As you journey outdoors, be mindful of the supplies you bring. Instead of taking notes or writing poetry on your phone, consider opting for a physical notebook, reducing electronic distractions. For convenience, bring a pocket-sized notebook dedicated to this practice. If you’re planning on listening to music as you write, wear your headphones to respect the people and wildlife around you. To enhance the experience even further, curate an outdoorsy playlist. 


Go with a friend


Some people and communities, especially those with marginalized identities, often feel unsafe in outdoor spaces. To help alleviate feelings of anxiety, bring a fellow creative friend. Maybe you’re close with someone who enjoys writing—or a different medium, like photography. Planning creative outdoor outings with a friend can further motivate you to commit to this practice.


Practice mindfulness to inspire your poetry


On your outdoor excursions, practice mindfulness by observing your surroundings and engaging your senses, which can provide material for your poetry. For example, ask yourself: What plants do you see? What animals or natural elements do you see and hear? What are their colors? In what ways does the forest appear different once the light changes? How does your mood shift the longer you spend time outdoors? 


Get inspired by other poets 


The outdoors is a timeless source of inspiration for writers. From Joy Harjo to Mary Oliver to the transcendentalists, poets transform keen natural world observations into vivid, lyrical poetry. As you begin writing about the outdoors, reference other poets’ work to gain a sense of which themes to explore or forms to employ. 


Write a prompt before exploring the outdoors


When writing about the outdoors, you might find yourself overwhelmed. With so many subjects to explore, it can be helpful to create a poetry prompt before exploring the outdoors. Whether you wish to write a poem from the perspective of wildlife, a poem detailing your appreciation for a landscape, or a poem reflecting on your mental health and personal experiences using natural world metaphors, writing prompts can provide focus and direction.


As a challenge this summer, set a goal to camp at a site on your list for a day or two. Spending a weekend immersed in the outdoors can provide you with new perspectives, which can inspire evocative poetry.