Writing in the Woods

Gayle_Cabin_Writing_smallerThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

A pine squirrel chattered from a nearby lodgepole. Brown-spotted butterflies danced from one wildflower to another, and a mule deer buck, antlers in the velvet, sauntered through the forest. The 4th of July weekend reverberated with quiet. Instead of firecrackers and other celebratory noises, America’s birthday party provided me tranquility, an opportunity to ponder, and moments of reflection, experiencing gratitude not only for freedom, but also for peace.

butterflyPeace may not be evident everywhere, including in our own country currently, but on this day, and for several days during that holiday week, I basked in quiet. The forest surrounding my cabin, 8,000 feet in elevation and just 20 minutes from my house in town, offers tranquility – and for that I’m thankful. For nearly 14 years, my husband and I have been able to escape the “noise,” not just of fireworks, but also of the ambience of town with emergency sirens, tire squeals, kids screaming, parents yelling, dogs barking… Instead of all that commotion, we hear the breeze whispering, the birds singing, the squirrels chattering, and our dog snoring. And often, the tapping of my fingers on the computer’s keyboard.

I love writing in the woods! I find inspiration in the landscape I see and the nature sounds that I hear. I’ve composed entire books and chapters of books at our mountain property. I’ve written short stories for magazines, newspapers, and Chicken Soup compilations while under the shade of towering pine trees. I’ve created blog posts, including this one, inside the cabin and dreamed of making a living as a freelance writer and online entrepreneur while sitting in the forested sunshine.

Cabin_July 4 2017

Our mountain property is a gift and a blessing. I walk the woods of our land, and I write inside the cabin or outdoors amongst the trees. I share the gift of this property with other writers once a year when I invite those in my local group for an afternoon retreat. We write in the woods, we fellowship, we share, we create, we laugh, we eat, we encourage. There’s just something about writing in the woods, away from the noise and distractions of town, that bring creatives together and stimulates the muse. Whether it’s a song, a poem, a short story, or the chapter of a book – writing in the tranquility of the forest, surrounded by an audience of creatures, inspires many of us who enjoy nature.

pine squirrel

As Scottish naturalist and writer John Muir said, “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

A book of some of his words, purchased while visiting Alaska’s Denali National Park last month, sits on a table in the cabin. Muir inspired people of his day and continues to inspire nature writers and others. His walks and wonderings through woodlands of all types, from the forests of California and Alaska to the dirt trails of the Grand Canyon, helped establish some of America’s national parks and left a legacy. There’s just something about writing in the woods.

I may never be like John Muir, where my writings and beliefs inspire people for generations or create something as important as a national park, but what I do write can make a difference in someone’s life today. My first book, Sage’s Big Adventure: Living with Blindness, came out 10 years ago. I’ll never forget an email I received from a woman in North Carolina who worked in a pediatric AIDS hospital:

“It is so wonderful for you to write such a great book for children!  I will be using your book with our HIV/AIDS children as an educational tool.  All children need exposure to the many disabilities we continue to be challenged by, especially our group, as they face the daily struggle of being different.”


I cherish that note, and I think of a Wayne Watson song “For Such a Time as This” based upon Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible. The chorus states, “For such a time as this I was placed upon the earth, to hear the voice of God and do His will, whatever it is….” The song was used in a 1999 episode of the TV show Touched by an Angel, starring Roma Downey and Della Reese. Although I may not be instrumental in helping free slaves as the program’s story showcased, my writings can – and do – make a difference in some people’s lives. So, when I write in the woods, and share my special space with others (as well as share my writings with others), I do so knowing I may never be famous like John Muir, Jon Katz, or Roma Downey, but I am doing the work I feel called to do “for such a time as this.” And I oftentimes do that writing work in the woods.

Where is your favorite writing space? Why do you write what you write?

Read a post about Special Spaces which I wrote this month for Sundown Press’ blog site: http://sundownpress.blogspot.com/2017/07/special-spaces.html

aspen_woodpecker     chipmunk


Gayle and Mary_river walkGayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming author and freelance writer. Her inspirational pet books for children and adults teach valuable life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, and friendship. She is a contributing writer to magazines and newspapers, including pet stories in the Colorado-based Prairie Times. Her short story about a rescue dog, titled Jasmine’s Journey, will appear in the August Chicken Soup for the Soul release called The Dog Really Did That? This will be her seventh contribution to the Chicken Soup series. Learn more about Gayle and her work at www.gaylemirwin.com.


Mary Book Cover    cody-cabin-cover2    bookcover_tail-tales_front-cover   Walking_FrontCover_small       Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final    Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014     Spirit of America book      Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover    Chicken Soup book_Dog Really Did That_2017

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12 Responses to Writing in the Woods

  1. Wranglers says:

    It is wonderful to get away. I love loving in Florida, I feel like I am on vacation all the time. Love your crisp, interesting photos. Thanks Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Doris says:

    I”be always cherished my time outside and in nature. There is not as much of that these days, which makes the time spent even more precious. I think we are all called to do many things in our lifetimes, and answering those calls brings such joy. Keep writing my friend, its what you were called to do. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gayle Irwin says:

      Your words are precious as is your friendship, Doris — thank you!! I hope to see you later in the year as Greg and I plan a trip to New Mexico. 🙂 Thank you for reading and for your kind words. May you get outside a bit more before winter arrives. 🙂


  3. Neva Bodin says:

    What a beautiful blog and I do envy you. One of the things I loved about camping on our farm for a month was all the birds who sang to us, and no sirens or barking dogs. The latter two things greeted us immediately on return. And I love the summer day at your cabin to write.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gayle Irwin says:

      You are truly a camping/woodswoman, Neva! I know the time in ND was difficult, but hopefully nature helped nourish and refresh you. I look forward to having you come to the cabin/writing retreat this summer! Thanks for reading and commenting!


  4. Gayle, I agree the mountains would be a wonderful place to write. I’m glad you have the opportunity to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gayle Irwin says:

      Thank you, Abbie — I’m truly blessed. I wish you could join us for the annual writing retreat; perhaps one of these summers. Or, perhaps I could come to Sheridan and take you, Bonnie, and Rose to the Bighorns for an afternoon of writing…. um, maybe we should do that next year! Thank you for reading and commenting on my post!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. S. J. Brown says:

    I could never write in the woods. To many distractions, to many critters to photograph. I do most of my writing at my desk,but I admit I have a tape recorder in the car, a notepad in my purse and briefcase.


  6. M. K. Waller says:

    You have a beautiful place to write. I love to get away from home, especially to somewhere I can get out and enjoy the quiet. Oddly enough, I do my best work in coffee shops. I filter out the noise and focus on writing, yet hear what’s going on around me at the same time. Home provides more distractions.


  7. Nancy Jardine says:

    Your cabin looks so appealing, Gayle. Here’s hoping you spend many more days there and have such inspiring times in it. Back in late December 2010 I was on a road trek from San Francisco to Vancouver, Canada. One of our planned stops was at a famous bookstore ‘Powells’ in Portland, Oregon. When my late brother-in-law (he died in 2014) heard we were going to go there he asked me to look out for a particular book about John Muir that was seriously expensive in the UK. He was a geography teacher and really loved browsing through books about the pioneers of northern US and Canada. By the time we reached Portland the snow was starting and was set to turn into a very heavy fall. We had a critical time schedule to get to Vancouver for New Year’s Eve and couldn’t afford to get snowed in anywhere so our stop in Portland consisted of grabbing a substantial lunch and a timed hour and a half in the bookstore! I managed to locate a copy for Neil but only saw a fraction of the rest of the store. It was immense and full of lots of nooks and crannies- just how a real bookstore should be!


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