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How my landscape inspires mindful, reflective writing

Writing comes in many shapes and forms.


But throughout my studies, I always favoured “stream-of-consciousness” prose which captures the narrator’s thoughts in a realistic manner.


I grew up in many places around Scotland and, in my early years, these houses were often situated in the countryside.


Which meant many moments were spent in the vast outdoors.


Some of my earliest memories were from our house in Perthshire where my mum would take me raspberry picking in the summer and conker foraging in the autumn.


My mum would crouch down beside me as I peered through the contraption of twigs and leaves and pluck a raspberry.


I would hold it in my tiny hand, feeling the soft spongy texture and peer at its flushed pink pigment.


We’d gather a bucket of them and take them home to be washed and then, of course, eaten.


Unceremoniously but with a beam of pride.


Likewise, as winter approached we displayed the conkers proudly on the mantlepiece, the fire roaring beneath.


My teen years and adult life, however, have been spent in cities where life is fast-paced and a buzz.


But when I write I am always drawn to these peaceful moments of my childhood, when things are zoomed in.


Slow.


When I write, I take time to look at things up close: my mind alive with curiosity, my thoughts coming to me like a small stream of water dripping off a roof.


Writing for me is not an escape, but another way of being. A reminder to slow down and savour life.


The good, and even the not-so-good moments.

Image courtesy of Eloise Osborne

Below are some practices that get me out of the daily chaos of life and help me to write in a mindful way:

I go somewhere I feel present

I often find I struggle to come up with creative ideas for writing when I’m at my desk. When I am in this setting I am focused on other work tasks and my head is in “fast-pace” mode.


My favourite ideas have come to me when I’m not thinking about writing at all, but thinking about life.


I see life the most strongly in nature, but I can also see it in other things:


A beautiful moment with someone I am fond of,

A long train journey,

Or looking through a box of memories.


When I am in this present state of mind, I let the ideas trickle through and, when I am less present again, I make a quick note of my ideas or sometimes even make a voice note as I find my thoughts sometimes run too fast.


Find more times when you can feel present and let the ideas flow.


I focus on simplicity


When I approach writing in a less mindful way, I want to write about everything all at once and put ten different ideas into one piece.


I found it better to have a focus, even just one main takeaway or idea at a time.


This I found to be fruitful not only when writing short prose and blog posts, but also social media posts.


What is the consistent element in your piece that you wish the reader to remember?


You should remind your reader of the main point, especially in the introduction and conclusion.


You may want to write about lots of things, but it doesn’t all need to go into one article.


However, make sure you aren’t too repetitive. You can expand your idea but always come back to the main point.


I find inspiration from other writers


One of my favourite pieces of writing is “The Red Door” by Scottish writer Iain Crichton Smith.


I was introduced to it in high school and is about the thought process of a man who one day discovers that his front door has been painted red.


I loved the simplicity of this story and how this red door represents his experience of living in the Scottish country landscape and how he reflects on his life from this one small but bizarre occurrence.


I started to write focusing on something simple: a passing moment or an object with meaning and letting my mind wander.

Image courtesy of Eloise Osborne

To this day, this short story is one of the main influences on my writing.


I (try to) leave perfectionism behind


I often aim not to strive for perfection when I write. For one thing, it makes it difficult to start.


It often helps to just sit down and blurt all of my ideas onto the page, and then let them naturally form over time.


Spending time in nature allows me to remember that sometimes it works best for me just to let my ideas develop organically.


This is one reason why I enjoy “stream-of-consciousness” prose as it is raw, imperfect and represents reality in an accurate yet intimate way.


I imagine the writer has just sat down and poured what is in their head onto the page. Even though in reality it is often more complicated and time-consuming.


Like many things, both nature and writing are never perfect– but still create a lasting impact.


I write about what I don’t know


Often, the advice given in university and beyond is to “write what you know”– and that is sometimes great advice.


But I challenge you to also write about what you don’t know.


Write what you are curious about.


There are so many things that you must wonder about. Share this with your reader and let them wonder too.


You don’t need to have all the answers.


A part of mindfulness I enjoy practising is accepting things the way they are.


As a reader, we never find out who painted the door red– but we gain so much more from Crichton Smith’s story when we are left to wonder and imagine on our own.


Some things are better left a mystery for you and your reader to enjoy together.

Close-up of a purple thistle with a cloudy sky behind it
Image courtesy of Eloise Osborne

Scotland has often been my muse as well as my home.


I have found that Scotland has not only helped me to become more connected with my writing, but also my writing has made me more connected to Scotland.


While I often enjoy my fast-paced city life, I know that the Scottish landscape is always there to tell me to slow down.


And that’s when my creativity flourishes.


Enjoyed reading this inspiring article from Eloise? See more from her here.

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1 Comment


Nadine Heir
Nadine Heir
Apr 17, 2023

This is such a heartwarming article. Thank you for sharing with us Eloise!

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