Tina Welling is the author of the newly published Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature, as well as three novels published by NAL Accent/Penguin, including Cowboys Never Cry. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Sun, Body & Soul and a variety of anthologies. In this Q&A she reveals how connecting to nature can spark creativity and change ourselves, topics she explores fully in her recent book.
In Writing Wild you discuss how writing changed your life, even caused disruption, can you tell us about that?
Writing Wild is about awareness, about waking up through our senses and discovering our interconnection to all things. This realization changes a person. In my case, it affected my relationship with myself and that created a domino series of changes in my marriage, in my mothering, in my position with my original family. In the book, I discuss how exhilarating this was for me and perplexing for the others.
What does forming a relationship with nature have to do one’s creativity?
The natural world is the macrocosm, our creative energy is the microcosm. “As above, so below,” is the old spiritual law that tells us that everything we need to know about how to manage, protect and express our creative energy is taught to us by nature. Nature holds the patterns, rhythms and keys to the mystery of creativity. It’s a natural resource of wisdom we don’t tend to use, perhaps because it’s right outside our door.
How did you discover the connection between personal creative energy and nature?
It was a series of realizations, just moments really, when I was outdoors enjoying the solitude and silence, daydreaming. Once I was on a mountaintop, once skiing alone on the snowy flats, once on the front porch of my cabin. By the third time I glimpsed the connection, I said right out loud, “I think I’m on to something.” Years of further daydreaming, writing, reading, losing the idea and re-finding again it followed.
Name the most important connection between creativity and the natural world.
The natural world grounds the illusive creative energy we personally experience. It is present in physical form, made real to us. We can experience it anytime we open to the natural processes around us. Once open, every offering of nature’s wisdom is available to us. Plus we also gain support, inspiration, validation and we realize there are no failures, everything is useful, everything is part of everything else.
You talk about “lowering your standards” to open the flow of creative energy; how does that work?
When we hold high expectations of ourselves we put up an immediate obstacle to moving forward. We can so easily freeze up and do nothing. Lowering our standards is a phrase I borrowed from the poet William Stafford, who taught me that by lowering our expectations and the demands on ourselves we are free to move onward, to create wholly original work. We must drop our urge to compare our work to others or to our past work or to our expected work. We want to be surprised, so we need to be vulnerable and wide open to whatever occurs to us at each moment.
You say that nature triggers stories, does that really happen?
I have seen it happen over and over to students in my workshops and have experienced it myself. Although it feels mysterious with something of the divine to it, science backs this process up. And it all begins with the senses. So simple. So enjoyable. I have found storylines for my novels and personal insights for my inner work. I lay it out in three easy steps in Writing Wild.
In Writing Wild, you give advice for creative writers that is also prescribed for emotional healing. Could you briefly describe that?
It’s like breathing. An inward/outward form of attention that makes for pleasurable reading, energetic creative writing and happens also to be a method for journalling that heals. Studies show that trauma is eased by using this natural pulse found within our bodies to write about the difficulties in our lives. I explain the idea fully in the book and used the method myself to write the book. In this way, my intention is to make Writing Wild enjoyable to read as well as informative and in its way healing.