‘Attention to detail is key.’ How often have you heard that phrase, be it about an English essay, a scientific experiment or historical analysis? It might be appropriate (and it’s often helpful), but it hardly screams joy, inventiveness or creativity (even though it can bring all of those things). It might, in fact, sound a bit, well, dull.
Apply it outdoors, however, and it immediately – and more obviously – opens up fresh areas of inspiration as well as offering precious time to give your mind a break from academic angst, sibling squabbles or fickle friends.
There’s no need to venture into thicket-filled forest or set out across deserted moorland either. Just open your front door and pay close attention to what’s around you.
Is there an unfamiliar spring flower pushing its way through the cracks in the pavement? What are those metallic-flecked pebbles on a well-travelled walkway? Has a visiting bird added its voice to the avian choir?
Try to focus on capturing these seemingly insignificant details in your mind’s eye as well as maybe snapping or recording them on your phone or drawing a quick sketch.
As you do so, consider how they feed into other areas, maybe descriptive writing or music composition. You might also see if they can help you to explore and express any feelings that don’t always come so easily with words.
Importantly, allow nature’s details, whether you find them on a city street or in a country park, to remind you of all the beauty, diversity and colour in the wider world.