Want to get creative? Take it outside

Based in Cornwall, Natasha Carthew runs urban wild writing workshops. She shares her top tips for getting great inspiration from the great outdoors

We spend our lives looking at the world through screens: TVs, computers, windows in houses and cars and buses and through these screens it’s like we are bystanders, watching the world go by. Writing outside makes us better writers and there are two reasons for that, the first reason is FREEDOM. There are no electronic distractions no other voices except the murmur of strangers to help you escape to whichever world you want. Writing outside also helps to clear the head and helps you focus.

The second reason for writing outside is INSPIRATION. You can catch inspiration from a million different outside locations and a million different things to stimulate your senses and free your wild mind.

Ten ideas for Outdoor Writing

  • Pick a character; for example you might see someone sitting on a park bench or waiting for a bus, write something about their life. Who are they? What in their life has gone before this moment? What are they thinking about? What is going to happen?
  • Setting, start small and build a bigger picture. Look around you; perhaps choose somewhere you haven’t been before.
  • Listen to conversations in public spaces, look at people’s mannerisms from afar, think about what it is they might be talking about.
  • Multi-sensory ideas; what do you See? Hear? Smell? What can you feel with your hands? Remember, your senses are heightened when in a different environment.
  • Think what the outdoors means to you. Look at where you live or work or sleep and really get under the skin of the environment you’re in and the world around you.
  • Whilst writing, introduce chaos into the mix; a Natural Disaster! Murder! Alien Invasion! Apocalypse! Stretch your imagination.
  • Get going and keep going. Write until your hand hurts, you’ll be amazed with what you come up with.
  • Find something small like a weed growing up through the pavement or a discarded coffee cup and describe it in detail, look around you, where did it come from? Try to see ordinary things from a new perspective, and you just might find inspiration for a new story.
  • Listen to sounds you’ve never noticed before. Really make an effort to notice the noises around you, arguments, traffic jams, birdsong and don’t take them for granted.
  • Be very still and let inspiration find you.

All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew (riverrun books, £14.99) is out now


The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.