Welcome to this newsletter in which I’ll share free (or at least good value) opportunities I’ve found for nature writers, recommend nature-writing blogs and books, suggest nature-writing tips/prompts, and more…

The photo is of a collection of gulls at the London Wetland Centre – Black-headed, 2nd winter Herring and a Common Gull

January updates:.

  • still time to enter Bird Watching Magazine‘s Thumbnail Nature creative writing competition (deadline 27th Jan, free to enter) which I’m very excited to be judging alongside fabulous nature writers Stephen Moss, Anita Roy and Dominic Couzens. There are fab prizes…
  • still relevant The Urban Tree Festival 2023 writing competition (deadline 13th Mar 2023, entry 6 euros) is on the theme of “Secrets of the Trees”. You can submit up to two pieces of fiction/non-fiction, prose/poetry up to 250 words.
  • still relevant  The Welkin Prize (deadline 28th Feb 2023, free entry) opens for entries on 1st Dec 2022 and would be perfect for nature writers. Summary of guidance as follows “Up to 400 words… The competition is for any form of narrative prose aimed at adults… doesn’t differentiate between fiction and non-fiction, and welcomes narrative prose”.
  • new listing The Rialto Nature and Place poetry competition (deadline 1st Mar 2023, entry £7) for poetry up to 40 lines could be a good place to submit Thumbnail Nature poems.
  • watch this space The biennial Nan Shepherd prize for underrepresented voices in nature writing must be due to be announced soon for the 2023 round.
  • still relevant My series of online nature-writing workshops on the general theme of Wild Pavements is underway  with each workshop in the series kicked off on a Thursday evening and repeated on Friday evening. Join me for a relaxing and creative hour and I really believe you will start seeing urban areas differently. Tickets are flexibly priced and available on Eventbrite (linked below). You can see the online anthology from one of the previous Wild Pavements workshops here to give you an idea of what we’ll be producing.
TICKETS: Thursdays 7-8pmTICKETS: Fridays 7-8pm
9th Feb 2023 – Destination urban nature10th Feb 2023 – Destination urban nature (repeat)
9th Mar 2023 – Where spring comes early10th Mar 2023 – Where spring comes early (repeat)
  • monthly A Contemplative Writing online workshop (free) takes place the third Saturday of every month between 12-1pm. If you’re finding nature writing regularly a challenge, this might be the thing…
  • weekly Five Words International Poetry Competition (entry 5 euros) might be worth considering if you’re inspired by writing under pressure. Five new words are posted each week to include and some of the combinations (eg. speck spill lover over silver) could definitely inspire nature themes.
  • monthly The Shooter Literary Magazine flash non-fiction/fiction competition (entry £3.50) seems a perfect opening for nature writing.
  • ongoing No list of writing competitions can be entirely comprehensive but I like to keep an eye on this one – compiled by Neon Books.

This month’s Who to Read or Follow recommendations:

  • This month I’m reading John Clare’s The Shepherd’s Calendar.  This collection of poems first published in 1824 is a great introduction if you’re new to nature poetry and there’s fab set of podcasts readings from it here.
  • Hey Twitter Users… Well obviously I’m going to recommend following the John Clare Society’s twitter account

This month’s Nature-writing tips and prompts:

Feature article submission tip… Is there a well-known or unsung historical nature writer or naturalist linked to a place where you enjoy nature to provide an angle for an account of a visit?

Stuck for nature-writing inspiration? Keep an eye out for insects flying on warmer January and February days – what feelings do you have when you see them? Perhaps these could be the inspiration behind a piece of short-form nature writing.

Add to your knowledge of the nature around you… it’s easy to dismiss a group as “just Black-headed Gulls” but if you look closely (taking some pics helps) you may be able to spot some interlopers. In the heading photo the two larger gulls, one in flight and one on the ground, are both 2nd winter Herring Gulls and the bird immediately beneath the one in flight is a Common Gull. I’m always on the look out for the more unusual Mediterranean Gulls – which are a similar size to Black-headeds but the adults have white wing tips and a slightly broader bill with a pale tip.

And… please send me anything you’d like to be included in my February newsletter.

Recordings of writing workshops I’ve led can be found here on my YouTube channel and you can read anthologies from my nature-writing residency partnered with the London Wildlife Trust here on their blog. I host Goldcrest Nature Writers, a nature-writing forum. And finally my proudly self-published activity book Thumbnail Nature Journal is available to buy here…