Connecting Through Creativity

How Cristy Burne Finds Inspiration in the Natural World

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Cristy Burne is one of FOUR Creative Mentors sharing the tricks of their trades to support you on your journey in Connecting Through Creativity. Follow along as they give tips on their creative processes, specific art forms, and other tricks to help inspire your creative submission. Learn more about how to submit your visual art masterpiece that explores that topic of CONNECTIVITY for a chance to win $500, by clicking here!


Fear, wonder, self-belief and peace: How I find inspiration in the natural world

By Cristy Burne

Abseiling, rock climbing, river rafting, snorkeling, caving,camping, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, boogie boarding, jumping off pontoons, digging in the sand, playing in rivers, climbing trees, growing things, walking my dog, listening to the birds, jumping in leaves, smelling a flower,spotting a bird’s nest … that’s my perfect morning. I LOVE BEING IN NATURE!

I also love SITTING ON MY COUCH! Because I love reading,writing, drawing, making, talking, laughing, learning about the world (I love science!) and patting my dog (yes, she gets to sit on the couch)(actually, shehas her own couch, but she lets me share).

So my perfect afternoon is: me, my computer, a cup of tea,and an exciting new idea. I’m a writer, so I mostly use my creativity by writing stories.

How do I feed my creativity?

By going outside!

Having an adventure in nature gives me four super-important things:

Cristy Burne selfie from hike that inspired Beneath The Trees
A selfie from Cristy's real-life natural-world horror-hike that inspired her new book, Beneath The Trees!

1)     Fear

The book I’m working on at the moment, Beneath The Trees, is 100% based on a real-life natural-world horror-hike that happened to me and my family last year.

It started out like a totally normal holiday adventure: my family and I went walking in a Queensland rainforest. But very soon, after we spotted that first black wriggly monster,our hike quickly became an all-day race against LOSING MY MIND!

It was the WORST hike EVER! But I *loved* writing Beneath The Trees because I could truly feel the fear, because I’d lived the fear…and it’s perhaps my new favourite book.

-         What experiences—good or bad or funny or embarrassing—can you harness to fuel your creativity? How can you use your own unique situation to connect?


2)     Wonder

Our natural world is full of strange and incredible things. Being in nature makes me think about them, and want to learn more. For example, did you know Western Australia is home to loads of strange carnivorous plants—and one third of the world’s insect-eating plant species are WA natives!

Or have you ever tried a yummy snottygobble? Snottygobbles are native trees with bright green (super-squishy, super-snotty) edible fruit…Scrumptious!

Or did you know that marri trees are named for the red sap that bleeds from their trunks, because marri is Noongar for blood.

I didn’t know any of these things until I was hiking on the Bibbulmun Track and started to think about them. And then I wanted to learn more. And what I learned inspired me to write. And what I wrote became Off The Track, an adventure about two families who go on an overnight hike and run into trouble.

-         What fascinates you? What would you love to learn more about? How can you use what you learn to express new ideas?


Beneath The Trees illustration by Amanda Burnett; Book by Cristy Burne

3)     Self-belief

I love outdoor adventures because they make me stronger. Not muscles-stronger. Mind-stronger.

For me, finishing a paddle or climbing a mountain or trying something I’ve never tried before is all about being mentally strong. So what I learn *outside* helps me with my *inside* challenges, too. Because you need self-belief to finish any creative project.

I practise self-belief by going into nature. If I fall over, I need to get back up. If I capsize, I have to bail out. If I get stuck up a tree, I need to find a way down. My book characters need self-belief too. I love to put my characters into terrible situations, and see them battle to overcome their fears. So by experiencing these things for myself, I can write about them more authentically.

-         How will you feel when you finish your creative project? How will you celebrate?


4)     Peace

I love being outdoors because it reminds me of how wide our sky is, how important our wild spaces are, and how I always want to stay connected to the magic of nature.

When I’m playing and working in the natural world, I’m 100% in the moment. It’s like a meditation, and it fills me up with courage and calm. I hope it does this for you too.

-         Do certain places or times of day or chores or hobbies help you to feel a particular way? How can you share this feeling through your creativity?


Record the moments

When I’m outside and inspiration strikes, I use:

- a notebook and pencil (for scribbling down phrases and ideas),

- my phone camera (to help me recall details and trigger memories)

- my soul (to connect me with the moment: I like to suck in big breaths, smell things, touch things, and take a moment to FEEL where I am)

- other people (when I’m back at home, I ask my kids or my friends what they remember, what they were thinking, how they felt)

So that’s how I feed my creativity by going outside. How do you feel about being in nature?
Do ideas and creative thoughts pop into your head when you’re in the natural world?
Could going outside help inspire your creativity and self-belief?

Watch Cristy Burne's answers to your creative questions!


Scribblers Festival Connecting Through Creativity

How will you use inspiration from the natural world to create your visual masterpiece that explores the topic of CONNECTIVITY? Enter the Connecting Through Creativity challenge and you could win $500 in prizes! Click here for more information on age categories, prizes, and how to enter.