Nature as Creativity Booster

Ever since I met Melissa Crytzer Fry, I’ve been AMAZED how she draws parallels between the tiniest details in nature and the writing process. Today, I’m happy to introduce Melissa to you–as the third (and final) writer/blogger in my networking project.

Welcome to Rogue Writer, Melissa, and thanks for your guest blog (and photos) today!

Nature as Creativity Booster

Guest post and photography by Melissa Crytzer Fry

**All photos published on this post are property of Melissa Cryzter Fry, and cannot be copied, re-reprinted, or re-produced without proper permissions and consent from Melissa Cryzter Fry.**

I grew up among cornfields and cow pastures in northwestern Pennsylvania. Perhaps the long walks down to the beaver dam, strolls along the bullfrog-infested, green algae-blanketed pond behind my house, and salamander-owl-raccoon encounters account for my attraction to the outdoors.

I can’t be sure. But I do know, after living in downtown Phoenix for a decade and then moving to a rather remote part of southern Arizona, that I fell in love again with those wide-open spaces. 

But this time around, nature offered an entirely new gift: writing inspiration. Without fail, every jog or hike I take among my ranch’s saguaro-studded hills results in something new: engaging leads for magazine articles, plot solutions, and inspiration to keep writing – to be more creative overall.

So what, exactly, is it about nature that inspires creativity? The crisp air? The vastness of outdoor space? The departure from technology that lets the brain wander? Yes, yes, yes. But there’s also a scientific reason: Nature solves problems. Creatively. Biomimicry is at play. Bio-what? Biomimicry says that we can borrow creative solutions to just about any problem … from nature. All we have to do is pay attention to and study nature’s best ideas – its efficient designs, models, systems, processes.

Creativity guru Tamara Kleinberg asks, “If nature … has solved many problems we face today, why not go back to nature for inspiration? Why not engage with nature, understand how it works and then apply those lessons to life and work?” And to writing!

I agree with Kleinberg that nature is the ultimate innovation tool. In her blog post, she suggests some nature-related exercises to boost creativity:

  • Ask “What does it do?” With eyes closed and natural objects in hand – feathers, rocks, leaves – determine the function of each. Not what each is. What each does. Does the feather repel water, provide insulation, add to aerodynamics? Asking such questions may inspire new thoughts, ideas.
  • Fieldtrips. Go to a museum, visit an archaeological site, a city park. Pieces of nature – bones, animal skin, fossils, plants – “can take you to new places,” says Kleinberg.
  • Look & See: Step away from the computer and get outside. Really see your surroundings. Ask why nature works the way it does – how the insect is able to walk on the pond, how hummingbirds just seem to “know” where the flowers are, why water clings to grass blades. Doing so can conjure new ideas and provide answers for seemingly unrelated creative conundrums.

Take time out to interact with the outdoors, even if you live in the city. You may be surprised at the creative results.


Melissa Crytzer Fry is a fulltime freelance writer, author of the What I Saw creativity & writing blog and a writer/enthusiast of literary women’s fiction. You can also follow her on Twitter.

15 responses to “Nature as Creativity Booster”

  1. Yes, yes and yes! I also live in a place where I can easily walk in wild places, and whenever I come home from a walk, I have to spend 20 minutes just downloading all the ideas that came to me. For me, it’s not so much about taking ideas from nature as the way the experience of being outside affects my mind, as Julia mentioned (Martin, not Cameron–although I think Julia Cameron promotes walking as a creative boost as well).

    There’s something about the rhythm of the walking that puts me into a trance, a place where creative ideas can flow. Seeing beautiful scenery also activates that. Another part of it is being alone. Going with a friend or group doesn’t have the same impact. I consider my walks a retreat.

    Beautiful post, Melissa! So glad to have discovered you through Patrick’s Tweets of the Week.

    1. So happy to have met you through Patrick as well, Sue. You are so right about the outdoor experience having an impact on the creative mind. I wrote about that, too (and my particular outdoor poison is running: There are all kinds of physiological reasons creativity occurrs during physical activity! And, you’re right – it’s not the same when walking/running with a friend. Somehow, the creativity is stifled or subdued. “Walking as Retreat.” I like the sound of that.

  2. […] “Nature as Creativity Booster,” Melissa Crytzer Fry, guest post on Sheri Lopatin: Rogue Writer: Emerson isn’t the only writer who’s been inspired by nature. Melissa is inspired by the state where I grew up, Arizona (you’ll love her photos). (Related: Do the Work, Dispel the Myth of Creative Inspiration) […]

  3. I read Melissa for inspiration. Not just in my writing but also in the way I look at nature. Thank you again for bringing me back to earth!

    1. Oh, thank you dear! I am tickled to share my little slice of desert paradise with others. Some folks don’t “get it” or understand why we’d want to live so far away from ‘civilization,’ but it’s been THE best thing for me creatively and mentally, to be honest.

  4. I agree with Varina. These are amazing photos! I love how you captured the beauty and details in nature. And like Shari, I love how you always bring it back to writing. There’s a book to be written with all your nature/writing tips!

    1. Hmm… A book to be written about my writing/nature tips. Let me think about that :-)! The craziest thing is that I think there really is a writing lesson or a writing question in everything I see in nature. You just have to change your way of thinking and really look for those lessons.

  5. I love this post, and I absolutely agree with you (and Kleinburg) that nature is the ultimate innovation tool, leading to more creativity. I also think spending time in nature and fresh air helps me feel better and happier and refreshed, leading to me being able to focus more on my work.

    1. I agree with everything you’ve said, Julia. Even if I’m having a crappy or stressful day, I find that a walk outside (even if brief) simply lifts my spirits. The added bonus, as you mention, is that you get a renewed sense of creativity and focus.

  6. These may be my favorite Crytzer Fry photos yet. And such an inspiring post. Makes me want to go out in the backyard for a while. 🙂

    1. Melissa Crytzer Fry Avatar
      Melissa Crytzer Fry

      Thanks, V.V. Glad you like these photos! It’s always so hard to choose. Thanks, Shari, for the invite to guest at your blog.

  7. i love the photos.. ^_^
    and nice post.. hope you can check out my post to..

    1. Melissa Crytzer Fry Avatar
      Melissa Crytzer Fry

      Hi Mary. So happy I can share my photos and discoveries, rather than having them hidden in folders on my computer. Will check out your blog this week!

  8. A great post, Melissa, and thanks for hosting it, Shari. There’s no doubt Arizona is an inspiring place, it left an impression on me growing up there.

    Essentially you’re describing an artist date here, to channel Julia Cameron. Exposing your muse to the creativity of nature.

    1. Melissa Crytzer Fry Avatar
      Melissa Crytzer Fry

      I love the concept of an”artist’s date,” Patrick! I’m so jealous that the desert was your playground since is, indeed, an inspiring place for me & my muse.

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