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Let Nature Be Your Muse

Part 2: Creativity coach Annette Naber provides top tips on the creative life.

Eric Maisel
Creativity Coaches on Creativity
Source: Eric Maisel

As we discussed earlier in this series, artists are often inspired by nature, attuned to nature, and include nature as subject matter in the creative work they do. Here’s the second part of Annette Naber’s reflections on the subject of “Let nature be your muse.”

Annette explained:

Dialogue writing is another interactive nature experience that can lead to creative inspiration. This technique originated in Gestalt Therapy with the “empty chair” exercise and has been adapted to a variety of uses since then.

The basic process of dialogue writing consists of creating two conversation partners and writing down an imagined dialogue between them, using a free-association style. Free-association style simply asks that you write down whatever comes to mind, without pausing to think, without censoring.

On your next nature walk or backyard visit, take along a journal and pen. Select a tree or some other plant you are drawn to. Make yourself comfortable; perhaps sit down next to your chosen plant partner.

Silently ask for permission to engage and wait for an affirmative response. Then introduce yourself and ask your plant/tree partner for any advice they may want to share with you. You should be writing this exchange down as it occurs because you’ll inevitably miss some details if you try to re-create it afterward. It could look like this:

Me: Hi, I am Annette and I would love to talk with you about being more spontaneous and creative.

Tree (I named it Grandma Cherry): Hmm, interesting. What would you like to know?

Me: I admire how you stand in this one place all your life and seem to be quite content. I always feel like I need to go places to be inspired.

Grandma Cherry: But I move plenty; see how my branches keep growing higher into the sky. What you don’t see is how wide and deep my roots travel underground. The deeper and stronger my roots, the higher and wider I can stretch into the world.

Me: Wow, I never thought of that before. By planting roots securely in one place, I can branch out easily into many other places.

Grandma Cherry: Exactly. And my visitors bring me lots of stories to enjoy and take with them what they find here. So many birds, caterpillars, beetles, deer, snakes come by. Some stay a while, others are just passing through.

Me: I could just hug you. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. Can I come back to visit again?

Grandma Cherry: Anytime you feel like it, you are always welcome here.

Maybe your experience will be very different. Instead of spoken language, you may perceive colors, images, or shapes, or you may experience sensations in your body. Perhaps an old memory will flash through your awareness. Whatever it is, write it down, even if you don’t understand it at the moment.

When you feel complete, thank your conversation partner.

Later on, as you reread your notes, the message intended for you may be perfectly clear. It can also leave you scratching your head. If that’s the case, keep contemplating and writing until you gain more clarity. Maybe you will want to return to your tree or plant and ask for clarification. Maybe by talking to a friend about your experience, or doing research on a color or symbol that showed up for you, you’ll discover the deeper meaning.

So, what can you do with this insight you gathered from your conversation partner in nature? It can serve as an opener, as an icebreaker, for your creative process. It can also provide you with specific ideas that can be incorporated into your work. One of my clients used a dialogue with a tree as a catalyst for grief work that helped her release a beloved parent. Another client was able to gain insights into ways to be a more supportive team member at work.

As we learn more about ourselves through Nature’s symbolic messages, it also opens our creative channels. Sometimes, all we need is more oxygen in our lungs to feel more alive. A greater sense of wellbeing and aliveness inevitably registers in our creative work.

You can visit Annette Naber at Beauty Along the Road and Emerald Mountain Sanctuary. You can email her at

You can also visit me at my website.

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