August 18, 2021
$300 | 6 weeks
“The land knows you, even when you are lost.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
Whether you live in an urban area or in the countryside, this workshop aims to get you out of your head and into nature. We will write about the natural world, yes, but also our place in it and how we can protect our home for generations to come. We will use examples of writing across various genres, from poetry and essayettes to novel excerpts and feature articles, from authors such as Robin Wall Kimmerer, Richard Powers, Rachel Carson, Natalie Diaz, and Helen Macdonald.
In class we will discuss different ways of looking at and interacting with the outside world, techniques for writing about nature, and what constitutes nature writing. Each week there will be a new nature writing assignment that will require you to, in some way, leave your home (even if it is simply sticking your head out the window) and share your findings with the group. This class is both interactive and active and will include research, observation, and contemplation. It’s also a chance for you to have some time to come home to yourself in the great outdoors, or, if you prefer, to build community with your friends and family as you rediscover place.
This course is open to all writers of any genre who are interested in writing about nature. Prior workshop experience is not necessary, but all members of the class must come to class prepared to discuss the readings, be willing to share their own writing and nature writing, and be generous in their responses to their peers’ work.
Weekly Zoom Schedule
We will meet weekly on Mondays at 7:30 P.M. U.S. Eastern Time.
Additional note: We will be hosting this course’s text content on a specialty writing course platform, Wet.Ink, rather than the PowerSchool Learning platform we use for most Writers.com courses.
Nature Writing Course Objectives
By the end of this 6-week class, students will:
- Have a strong sense of what nature writing can be, and how you can craft your own style to work with or against what has come before.
- Understand the many shapes nature writing can take, and how nature writing is about feeling, emotions, and above all else, stories.
- Discuss and contemplate questions such as: How do I interact with the natural world around me? Who is Indigenous to this land and is that reflected in the way my town/city is organized? How can I honor and protect the flora, fauna, and original people of the place I call home?
- Write and revise several pieces of original nature writing content and learn where and how to publish them, if so desired.
- Above all, we’ll explore and bloom as a writing community and have fun all the while.
Nature Writing Course Outline
1. What the Heck is Nature Writing?
We’ll look at several examples across various genres to begin to see how wide the world of nature writing is and discover how integral the environment has been on writers, and vice versa. We will also brainstorm, free write, and lay down roots for our first pieces, and you’ll be given your first nature writing assignment to be completed outside of class.
After our nature writing check in (did you find a new plant? Notice something you hadn’t before? Get inspired by bird song?), we’ll use model texts that focus on flora to serve as inspiration in the form of either the epistolary, ode, memoir, or hybrid dealing with our local flora. You’ll become an intrepid researcher and botanist, and also get your second nature writing assignment.
After our nature writing check in and optional sharing (what was your favorite flower? Did you have an emotional connection to any flora you came across?), we’ll use model texts that focus on fauna to serve as inspiration in the form of either micro fiction or micro memoir. Whether you want to tell a true story or make one up is completely up to you, and you’ll also get your third nature writing assignment.
After our nature writing check in and optional sharing (is there an animal you misunderstood and now feel differently about? What animals are endangered in your state?), we’ll discuss and look at the role of humans within the natural world, and how respect for our indigenous people goes hand in hand with respect for the land. We’ll also discuss how and why stories are one of the most powerful tools of change, and we’ll work on writing our own centered around the theme of union and wholeness within the natural world, and what connection and well-being looks, smells, sounds, feels, and tastes like. You’ll also get your fourth nature writing assignment.
5. Putting it All Together
After our nature writing check in and optional sharing (are there any stories that affected you as a child that centered around the natural world? Did you find one from another culture? Make one up you can share with your own kids?), we’ll return to our notes and writing over the last month and choose a piece for revision and/or expansion. Time will be spent editing and examining our subject matter, narrative, word choice, messages, and more. Additionally, over the next week, you’ll be tasked with reworking this piece in order to share it out loud during the last class. Feedback will be given, and I will provide tips on how to do so in a constructive and positive manner.
6. Blooming & Sharing
In our last class we will share our work out loud and offer brief feedback to each other, and discuss how we have discovered, or rediscovered, the importance of nature and developing a healthy relationship with our kin. Time will also be spent discussing how to submit your work to literary magazines/journals/newspapers, if you are so inclined, and options for expanding shorter pieces into a series, collection, or book.
Why Take a Nature Writing Course with Writers.com?
- We welcome writers of all backgrounds and experience levels, and we are here for one reason: to support you on your writing journey.
- Small groups keep our online writing classes lively and intimate.
- Work through your weekly written lectures, course materials, and writing assignments at your own pace.
- Share and discuss your work with classmates in a supportive class environment.
- Award-winning instructor Dana De Greff will offer you direct, personal feedback and suggestions on every assignment you submit.
Learn more about how our courses work here, and contact us with any other questions.
Student Feedback for Instructor Dana De Greff
I loved taking Dana De Greff’s ‘The Shape of a Novel’ course at Books & Books. In just four classes, I managed to finish the outline for a novel idea I’ve had stewing in my mind for years. Her writing prompts were productive and inspired me to start writing pages from day one. Her workshops are incredibly nurturing, too. She offers a space where writers can feel comfortable sharing their work and her feedback is always constructive and helpful. I would take more classes with her in a heartbeat! Patricia Garcia
I have attended two workshops with Dana. The first helped me to focus on a topic for a novel. The second has resulted in a structure and 5,000+ words. Dana is knowledgeable, perceptive, and, as a writer, brings her experience to the group. She is well informed and often suggests novels that we should be aware of as inputs to our writing. All of us in the current workshop we are attending would be happy to continue to work with her. That’s the best compliment. Charles Wendel
Dana's approach to teaching is fun and light-hearted and allows for creativity and exploration. If you've been working on an idea or are stuck in your writing process, I highly recommend you take one of her classes or use her coaching services. Jeanette Rodriguez
Dana provided resources that helped encourage and organize my writing. She was flexible and really catered to the individual needs of each participant. She was always encouraging and open-minded. Aside from her being an amazing teacher and supporter, the class is also great because it introduces you to other gifted writers. I met so many unique and wonderful people who inspired me with their writing as well as their experiences and their own challenges putting pen to paper. It was the first time I had felt creative in a while. I only wish the class had lasted longer! The structure really helped me set goals and keep up with my writing. I recommend her courses for anyone who has any interest in writing. It was a special experience that I was happy to be a part of. Jordana Cutajar