Writing Outdoors in Spring – How I Refresh my Inspiration in this Refreshing New Season

I don’t know about you, but this winter has felt unaccountably long. Being a Canadian girl, I’m a huge fan of winter. I love everything about it – the outdoor sports, the snowfall, the breathtaking landscapes… I even love the early sunsets and the long, dark nights. So for me to admit that I’d grown sick of winter this year is saying something about the winter we’ve just come out of. Now that we’re officially into the heart of spring, I’m feeling lighter and more creative. My energy has perked up and so has my outlook. This happens every year around this time, but I find it especially refreshing this year.

As a writer, spring opens up more possibilities for changing up your writing location. In winter, you’re kind of limited to indoor spaces like your own home, or cafes, or… well, that’s about it, isn’t it? These are great places to write, of course. But when you’re not flush with options, they tend to become repetitive. So when the weather is mild, and endless possibilities open up for where I can park myself with my laptop or notebook, I find that I look forward to writing that much more.

Here are some of my favourite places to write outdoors that I’ve already indulged in this year. At the end of this post, I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell me where you love to write outdoors in springtime. I’m always looking for new ideas!

Cafe or pub patio

I’ve spent the winter inside my local cafes and pubs, gazing longingly at the world outside which, in winter, is wrapped in a blanket of white (or, if there’s been a thaw or some bad weather, brown street sludge). With the fresh spring weather, patios are open and thriving. There’s a little place in the town where I live called The Toasted Walnut, and it’s one of my go-tos for cafe writing. In the springtime, they put out tables and chairs right on the sidewalk, where all of the shop owners of my town’s little historic downtown strip have lovingly installed flowers in their outdoor planters. Watching the world go by, while still being a part of it in a sense, is a motivating atmosphere in which to create and write.

By the creek

I am lucky to live close to natural spaces that my municipality invests in keeping accessible for recreational use. I get to use some of these trails during the winter, as some are maintained as foot-traffic paths throughout the year. But others, which are true deep-woods nature trails, are not maintained year-round. At this part of the spring season, the ground has now firmed up and the creeks are bubbling happily with fresh-flowing water. Taking my laptop in a backpack and venturing a little ways off the groomed path is like walking into some kind of faerie forest. There is no shortage of stumps, logs and rocks to seat oneself on. The feeling is truly magical. Who wouldn’t be inspired to write surrounded by that?

In my backyard

I admit that this isn’t the most creative place to get outside and write in, but I don’t mind saying that I put a lot of work into my yard in springtime. The hostas and lilies and irises and peonies are all in bloom (or are close to it… hurry up, wee peonies!), and the scent of fresh-mown grass mingling with the earthy fragrance of the cedar mulch I lay down each year makes it feel like I am truly in my own sanctuary. In fact, that’s part of the reason I work so hard on my yard. I mean, I was raised this way (my mother is an avid gardener) so I come by it honestly. But putting in the work means enjoying the fruits of your labour. To me, spending time writing in my own backyard which I’ve worked so hard to make a place worth writing in is about as enjoyable as you can get.

Special Occasion – Parkwood Tea House

Okay – so, I have not written at this last place yet. It’s not open for the season until the end of May. But this is one of my all-time favourite places to write in spring and summer. It’s the Parkwood Tea House. Never heard of it before? I bet you know it anyway – ever seen the Adam Sandler movie Billy Madison? That was shot on location at Parkwood Estate in the city of Oshawa, Ontario. I’ve sat next to the fountain where they were racing their jet skis in the film, and walked the grounds where so many recognizable locations can be seen in the movie. It’s a lovely national historic site, preserved for the public, and each spring and summer, the estate works with a local catering company to offer a pop-up restaurant right by the fountain, underneath the cover of the structure known as the tea house. I could sit here all day and write. Unfortunately, it’s a popular location, and I can’t justify taking up a table for that long. But fortunately, the estate grounds are free to the public, and are maintained with gorgeous gardens, blooms and walking paths. If I’m really in the flow, it’s a simple matter to relocate to a stone bench or a grassy knoll beneath a century-old shade tree. I recognize how fortunate I am to live close to a place like this, and I don’t take it for granted.

Writing outdoors does wonders for changing up your perspective and refreshing your creativity. This is especially true in springtime, when the scents of the world waking up from a long winter’s slumber are particularly intense. I’ve written outdoors in many places around the world—on the beach in Jamaica, along the pier in San Francisco, at a cafe in Williamsburg, Virginia, on the steps of St. James Cathedral in Toronto, and even on a hillside in the Highlands of Scotland. I write outdoors whenever I get a chance, and springtime is the season I look forward to the most because it means a return to this beloved practice. So if you haven’t actively given outdoor writing a try, now is the best time to go for it. See how much the new season awakens your lust for writing, and make it a habit to get out actively as much as you can. I can’t recommend this strongly enough to all my writing friends out there!

And yes, this blog post has been written outdoors, from beneath the cover of my front porch during a gentle morning rain, accompanied by the happy chirping of starlings and sparrows in the freshly-bloomed trees. Sigh… heaven!

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