Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class


The beautiful Goldfinch


Welcome to this week’s Connect to Nature – Creative Writing Class. I like to choose topics for each week’s theme based on recent observations that I have made in the natural world.

Over the last few weeks I have been very aware of goldfinches. Despite all the lush green foliage (which can make them hard to spot) I have had some lovely encounters on my allotment plot and walking by the River Ouse in York. A flock of goldfinches is called a ‘Charm’. I always think of them as a good omen. I love their jewel like red faces, a splash of colour amongst the tree line and the flash of gold on their wings when I catch them ahead of me. This week’s class is inspired by the goldfinch and their beautiful jewel like colours.

The lovely thing about writing about nature is that it opens up curiosity about the natural world. The more observations we can tie into a narrative, the more likely we are to learn and to appreciate those things around us, so we will use the goldfinch as a starting point and see where it takes us!

So let’s begin!

Task 1: (5 mins) A group of goldfinches is called a charm. You often see them moving between trees and hedgerows. In ten words describe a group of finches or small birds gathering within a hedgerow.

Task 2: (5 mins) The goldfinch has links to Christianity. Some say that the goldfinch flew down and plucked a thorn from Jesus’s crown of thorns, which is why the goldfinch’s face is stained red with Jesus’s blood. Since that time the goldfinch has been seen as a symbol of resurrection and passion.

Think of something else red in nature, describe it in detail without mentioning the name of it – if you can, read your work to someone and see if they can guess what it is. (Here are some ideas to get you started: Poppies, cherries, ladybirds, bullfinch, toadstools, maple leaves.)

For an extra challenge: Can you make up a story to describe how your chosen item got its colour?

Task 3 (10 mins) I had a lovely conversation with someone the other day about my love of goldfinches. They discussed with me a time spent travelling to visit First Nations People in America and the use of a totem pole to represent animals with meanings to individuals in their culture. (If you want to learn more about totems there is a little three minute video on this link). We were discussing that a goldfinch would have to feature somewhere on my totem as a symbol of good luck and my love of nature and freedom

If you could choose five animals or natural things for your totem what would you choose and why? Are you particularly drawn to certain plants or animals? What do they represent in your life, how long have you been drawn to them? If you haven’t got a particular favourite animal consider which animals you most look out for in the wild.

Task 4: (5 mins) I absolutely love the colours of the goldfinch. Think of something in the natural world that has vivid jewel like colours and has taken your breath away. Write a short paragraph about it. (Here are few couple of my favourites to get you started: Tansy beetles, Himalayan poppies, sunsets)

I hope that you have enjoyed this class and the journey it has taken us on thinking about the rich colours in the natural world and how stories are entwined with natural phenomenon.

For an absolute visual treat I recommend looking at Georgia Cox’s art work, one day I am going to treat myself to a goldfinch print! I love the detail and colours that she uses in her art work.

I hope that everyone is keeping well and safe! Look out for reader responses on Friday and I will be back on Saturday with an art challenge for you.

Take care!

Best wishes,


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Please leave a comment if you wish! You can reach them by following the link at the end of each post. Or you can email me with your thoughts and any creative writing.

All photos of goldfinches taken from

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge ( and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York ( for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

4 thoughts on “Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class

  1. I wanted to share this beautiful song called Charm on, Goldfinch, by Beth Porter. I’d love to make up my own story or song about their beautiful colours. Thank you Emma for this lovely writing challenge which will mill about in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

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