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Writing from Nature, June 2-4, 2017, in Evans Notch, New Hampshire

A Weekend Unearthing Ideas with Chris Woodside

Walking, observing, and listening in nature opens writers to new ideas. How does that work? Join me from June 2-4, 2017 for our third annual workshop at Cold River Camp in Chatham, New Hampshire. This camp managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club is rustic and comfortable, in the northern White Mountains near the Maine border.

For testimonials about the 2016 weekend, click here.

We will again welcome a small group of writers—up to a baker's dozen. Sign up, show up, and I take care of the rest!

Yay—rates are affordable. Our goal is to help you without depleting your bank account. Career builders and students, this deal beats all. Email me (

Regular Rate: $670

Career Builder: $499

Student: $399

Pay by clicking on the Pay Now button below. If you prefer mailing a check the time-honored way, mail payment to: Christine Woodside, Writing from Nature, 41 Bridge Street, Deep River, CT 06417. Thank you!


Many writers know that their work is not merely an indoor, sedentary pursuit but that the best ideas come in a flash while we are doing other things that have nothing to do with writing.

I will teach you how to tap this energy productively, and regularly—immersing in the natural world, with no agenda. I have learned this technique from a quarter-century of exploring the backcountry of the Northeast. I have hiked thousands of miles on Eastern mountains, including the entire Appalachian Trail and all of the 4,000-footers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I often hike by myself. New ideas walk right into the brain when I trudge over rocks, leaf duff, mud, and water.

Writing from Nature is not like other workshops. It teaches a new method for good writing. It can transform how you work whether you write truth or fiction, short or long, poetry or prose. Away from distractions in a rural, quiet, wild setting, you will write without goals in mind. You will enter a new place of your mind as you learn to watch, listen, and smell the natural world.

Bring with you your hopes and plans. What are we working on these days? What have we hoped to start? An essay? A diary? A book on Dad's war service or your seven relocations as a kid? You will find ways to think about these, using the surprising lessons of nature to get there.

The 60-20 Principle

We writers think we have to sit like monks to work. We spend hours in a seat holding back the wild beast, followed by a few minutes, perhaps, watering the flowers. In this workshop you learn to reverse that thinking. My usual formula is 60 minutes of walking followed by 20 minutes of writing. In New Hampshire, we compress that a bit; you establish a shorter walking and writing routine we will follow a few times over the weekend. We also will take one field trip to a trail, where many options for long or short routes match your ability and interest.

You come to Writing from Nature leaving behind any particular writing projects. While you are here, you learn new ways of meeting your mind. I guide you to write many pages of new work and ideas. 

Brenda Ueland said, in her book If You Want to Write, that if we walk only to fulfill a grim exercise regimen, all we do is tally our lives or tasks. Instead of this, our aim together on Stone Pond will be: stop thinking about the destination, and turn off the noise. Be more like a dog, sniffing. Then, new thoughts drift in as if from nowhere.

We will explore: Trails. Rocks. The urge to collect. Discomfort. The Dark. And More.

“Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time. ... We must prime it with a little solitude and idleness.” —Brenda Ueland

“Every child begins the world again, to some extent, and loves to stay outdoors, even in wet and cold.” —Thoreau.

Practical Details

Your fee covers the workshop, all materials, lodging, meals, and late-night snacks. Cold River Camp's chef will serve us! Please bring your own alcohol and enjoy it responsibly. No smoking.  

Two ways to pay:

1) Paypal. See the button below. 

2) Mail a check made out to Christine Woodside. Send to 41 Bridge Street, Deep River, CT 06417

Schedule (Subject to change)


4-5 p.m. Arrive. Pick up packets, which include a book, maps, and notes about the natural world of this area.

5-6 p.m. Opening exercise: Oral storytelling, and tell us about yourself. Each of us tells a story about something that happened to us in nature. It can be as basic as encountering wasps at the back door, sleeping in a cave for three nights, and everything in between. 

6-7 p.m. Dinner.

After dinner: Opening exercise: Keynote speech by Chris. "The Earthquake of Ideas Comes from a Rock." I will tell how I changed from an impatient suburban New Jersey girl into someone comfortable in the wilds, and how this gave me ideas and connected me to my deepest goals for writing. The force of mountains and my response to them pushes me. Come with me into the wilderness. 

9:30-10:30 p.m.: Optional night walk and listening exercise.


6:30-7:30 a.m. Optional short hike with Chris.

8-9 a.m. Breakfast.

9:15 a.m. Walk 1: Route-finding, without a notebook. Chris will guide you on how to get the most out of the walk. Then you are off for one hour. Using maps in your packet, you will pick a route for solitary walking and observation.

10:30 or so-12: Guided writing.

12:30-1:30. Lunch.

2-3: Special visit, talk, and conversation with novelist and essayist W.D. Wetherell

3-3:20: Break

3:30: Walk to the river and listening exercise, with notebooks.

4:45 or so-5:30 pm.: Guided writing exercise. 

5:30: Break

6-7 p.m.: Dinner

7-8 p.m.: Break.

8 p.m.: Where are we? Every writer needs to understand place. Ryan J. Harvey, a homesteader, forester, and trails consultant, will talk about his years living and working in the North Country.

9 p.m. Popcorn and readings. Optional night hike.


7:30-8:00 a.m.: Breakfast

8:30 a.m. Field trip and writing. Our hikes will be time-oriented, not goal-oriented. In other words, if you get to your hoped-for spot, lovely. If you get two-tenths of a mile and spend the morning with a patch of wildflowers, perfect too.

11:30: Selected readings from our notebooks.

12:30-1:30 Lunch and goodbyes. See you next year!

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