Home and Back Again
You can get more out of your nature journaling by:
Reflecting on your records and experiences
Connecting your nature journal to other interests, projects and people
Being prepared for the practicalities
Developing a routine for when you return home
Create a Foundation for Learning
A learning mindset is essential to developing your skills. If you do not believe that you can learn how to do something, your brain believes you. Remind yourself these are not talents or abilities, but skills that you can learn.
Take time to learn from your experiences. Reflective practice is important to making progress. As you practise, think about what you have done, how you have done it, what you want to keep doing, and how you will do it differently the next time. Successful practice relies on your persistence, patience and compassion for yourself.
Nature Journaling Skills
Another important skill is recording. It is covered in Writing, Drawing, Numbers, and Putting it All Together.
Practise at home and indoors. This practice will make it easier for when you nature journal outdoors.
They all work together - Observation, Attention, Curiosity and Creativity
Here are prompts that work together translated languages spoken as home languages by participants at nature journaling workshops.
Make a Plan
Identify the skills you want to develop.
If there is more than one skill, make a list. Focus on developing one skill at a time.
If it is a complex skill like mapping, choose basic parts of the skill as your foundation. If you want to develop your drawing, writing or use of numbers, start with simple parts of the skill are involved in something more complex.
Practise with exercises that use that skill for at least a week, or ten or more times.
Have a starting point (remember to put a date on every page) as a point of comparison. This helps you to see your progress, and where you are getting stuck.
For example, if you want to improve your drawing speed in the field, try exercises with gesture drawing.
Get to know subjects at home before you observe them in the field. A popular, and fun, subject is birds. It works just as well with any subject: animal, plant, fungi, habitat, sky, space, etc. This practice at home trains your brain to record these subjects more quickly and accurately and to observe more deeply when you are outdoors.
Reflect on these sections of the Nature Journaler’s Code of Conduct. They apply to putting respect into practice in our learning process, for different ways of knowing and making meaning, and the history of current science knowledge.
“I learn by practicing my nature journaling skills. I learn in multiple ways. Much of my learning is from others, who in turn have learned from those who nature journaled before. I acknowledge and respect people and sources of knowledge.[ii]
I benefit from the knowledge shared by indigenous peoples with colonialists. The early European explorers are attributed with “discovering” and naming many species that are known today. I seek to counter the erasure of indigenous knowledge, languages and peoples in developing the current state of science.”
Before you step out the door
Take care of practical matters, so that you are prepared to enjoy and deal with issues that may come up in the field.
Things – supplies and kit, appropriate clothing, first aid, food and liquids, keep a nature journal kit with you at all times,
Information - know where you are going if you are venturing out beyond home ground. How long do you plan to go? What are the predicted weather and other conditions?
Safety and re-assurance of others – have emergency contact details, and contact reserve managers if going into a nature reserve or national park.
Pause and focus on your mindset. Is your attitude primed to expect wonder, notice it in the small moments of the unexpected, and connect with nature?
Decide on your focus. You can choose to focus on observations that arise. You can choose to record your stream of consciousness.
If nature overwhelms you, choose what to focus on before going outside. Make a note in your nature journal. This is an anchor for your focus. If you get excited about something happening while you are out, then give you attention to what is in front of you.
Projects are useful way of focusing your attention. See “What to Put on a Journal Page” for ideas. You can download it from here.
Back Home Again
1. Unpack and restock your kit, recharge electronic devices, download, sort, label and
back-up photos, and dispose of trash.
2. Enjoy the feelings that you experience as a result of nature journaling.
3. Deepen your nature connection with reflection.
It can be fun and satisfying to look back over your pages.
You can create a reflection section in your nature journal, or in a separate journal.
It is something that you do every time, sometimes, or never.
If you do reflect on your pages, here are some ideas:
Reflect on what you recorded and your observations.
Is there something that you want to come back to at another time – a plant, a habitat, a fungi or animal? What was the most surprising or interesting observation that you made about the most recent entries?
Is there a pattern emerging across your various entries? Perhaps an underlying connection, or message?
How do you feel now? Compare it to how you felt during the session?
What made nature journaling easier or more difficult?
Do you have too much in your kit? Did you run out of something? Is there something that you would like to have next time?
For more examples of reflection prompts see "Things to Put on a Nature Journal Page".
You can close your nature journal now or
connect your experience and records with projects and people.