Nature Journaling to Tell Your Woodland Story

Get outside. Observe. Write. I dare you.

How many of the following questions do you answer yes to?

 (Excerpt from The Wander Society by Keri Smith in the foreword section pg. XXVII entitled ‘What is the Wander Society?’)

  1. Do you find yourself increasingly distracted and unable to focus?
  2. Do you feel that technology is taking up too much of your attention?
  3. Do you remember a time when you were much more present in all your activities?
  4. Do you have a sense that there is more to life but you’re not sure how to access it?
  5. Do you feel disillusioned by a society that seems entirely focused on monetary gain?
  6. Do you feel you are experiencing life secondhand, filtered through various forms of media and entertainment?
  7. Have you lost a sense of ownership of the place in which you live?
  8. Do you find your quiet talents going unused and unnoticed in a world that values bravado, celebrity, publicity, and money?
  9. Do you seek community with like-minded people but often prefer to keep to yourself?

Did you answer yes to three or more of these questions? If so, the practice of wandering may be for you!

Defined by Webster’s dictionary wandering is: The act of unplanned, aimless walking/exploring/ambling, with complete openness to the unknown.

Explained by the book, The Wander Society, wandering is: The ability to, “Have a much deeper experience of the world through the use of deep looking and regular documentation of everyday life. Through these practices we may be able to create a new narrative for ourselves, one in which we are at the center of a powerful and important adventure. This is who you were when you were very small. This is who you are meant to be.”

From what I have gathered I define wandering as: To walk away (physically and mentally) from everything for a period of time in which you focus only on the present and what is going on around you.

Here is your challenge… Go outside. Right now. Wander. Keeping two things in mind:

To wander is to enter into a space of existing solely in the present moment. Your only requirements are to observe and have a direct experience with whatever is in front of you, and;

Document everything.

In order to document as you go take a notebook, a blank piece of paper, an old cardboard box, a camera, pencils, markers, crayons. Whatever you need to be creative and document what you are seeing, feeling, experiencing.

Go outside for 30-60 minutes. Maybe wander for 30, and then come back inside to document what you saw, felt, etc, or be out in the wild as you document, whatever is most comfortable for you.

How do you feel? What emotions are you having? What did you find or observe?

Record it. Document it.

Many landowners wander naturally but not intentionally and most have no intention of recording what they see, find, and feel. Also, they tend to go out in their woods with particular motives, or begin creating lists of what needs to be done. This is not a part of your nature journaling mission. Nature journaling and wandering your property with the sole purpose of experiencing and recording what you feel can have so many positive effects. Mentally and physically, spiritually, and emotionally. But also, concrete positive measures including:

  • You can add your recordings to the woodland discovery section of your management plan.
  • You can add changes over time that have been recorded to your management plan.
  • Often this will help you understand how to work with your management plan on a more personal level.
  • Most certainly habitual wandering will lead to a greater understanding of your property as a whole.
  • What becomes your nature journal can be invaluable information that can be used in succession planning.


Go outside and try it. I dare you.