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WRITING FROM A TREE: On the Inspiration of Nature

About the Author

Virginia Bee Ward is a 13-year-old poet and author who lives on a small farm in Western North Carolina. Her mother, Carolyn Ward, is CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

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Virginia Bee, in her writing tree.

I first met young Virginia Bee Ward a few years ago when she asked me for tips on launching her writing career. The young naturalist and writer left such an impression on me that I later wrote a blog post about her. My advice to Virginia was: Start writing now, don’t wait: write a journal; launch a blog; self-publish your own books. Since then, she has kindly shared more of her writing with me — and with you. She wrote the following essay in her favorite writing tree. She is an inspiration. — Rich Louv


The sun shone through the leaves leaving the pages on my notebook dappled with golden light.

The words that flowed from my hand onto the paper seemed to come from the tree that I was perched on. The words delicately describing one of my newest worlds seemed to originate from the beauty of the mountains and forests around me.

My words created a vast wilderness filled with fawns and elves, wood nymphs and spies, dark queens and rich merchants, and poor beggars and dancing minstrels. Although I knew that the profound silence and elegance of this moment couldn’t last forever, I knew that it could be remembered.

As I continued to write Lyra’s journey the sun began to sink down, hidden behind the mountains like a rare golden gem.

I love writing in trees and in nature in general because everything that I see around me inspires characters, objects, and the setting of the stories themselves. Most of my ideas came from nature such as the book I am writing right now and the ever-growing book of poetry I am composing.

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The raw naturalness provides an always growing and changing inspiration of death and rebirth that is mirrored in changing characters and malicious rulers that are so evil that they could represent death itself. The way that everything in nature connects and compliments everything else, for example, some jewelweed growing next to some poison ivy, single-handedly counteracting the toxins found inside its neighbor.

With a mix of hope and doom, good and evil, dreams and doubts you create a positive, but not too positive, storyline that you can follow in nature with everything. The equalness of everything and the balance of it all matters, how even after a fire life grows ever ever on.

Inspiration can come from even the little things, how a leaf falls to the ground, the light shining through its porous brown body leaving the ground dappled from the shadows created by its many holes. This could turn into a character or just a thing that happens in the story, adding extra depth to the setting and the detail letter of your writing.

Whether it becomes the story or is just something that shapes it, Nature is something that I use in all of my works, even in my photography. And I believe that it should be preserved and protected for future generations and for us.
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Additional Reading & Resources

DEAR VIRGINIA: On Writing
15 Characteristics of Leadership Writing
Writers on Writing: A collection of quotes that inspire me
The Lady Across the Lake: How nature stimulates creativity and community
The Hybrid MindThe More High-Tech Schools Become, the More Nature they Need
Are You a Leader?
Learn more about the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation

Photo credit: Pixabay & Carolyn Ward

Safety Note: If you’re going to write from a tree, please make sure its branches and your limbs are strong, and let your parents (or your kids) know.


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3 Comments

  1. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to link to it on a blog we do for young conservationists working with wild animals, https://www.wakabooks.org .

    By the way, you have a broken link above for:
    Writers on Writing: A collection of quotes that inspire me
    It links to: http://richardlouv.com/blog/about-wrtiting/
    I figure out the misspelling; it should link to:
    http://richardlouv.com/blog/about-writing/
    Just pointing it out because it’s such a great page, highly recommended for writers!

    Reply
  2. Virginia, I love the relationship you have with Nature, and the way you so thoughtfully experience and write about it! Though it sounds like you love the solitude, I hope you will introduce some of your friends to this magical connection, as the more young people who know and love Nature, the better chances of preserving and protecting it.

    Reply
  3. So well-said! I teach in a school garden and will use this article to motivate my students. In that same school garden, I found myself staring up through tree leaves today as a natural response to receiving some tricky news, letting the tree filter my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

    Reply

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