What to do when you’re behind in your nature journal

I’m a month behind in my blog writing and several pages behind schedule in my nature journal too, it’s May now but here I am still working on April’s pages. Sound familiar?

Whether it’s holiday, work, health or just a busy schedule, sometimes we just don’t have time for that daily nature journal practice we dream of. While I still managed to find time for some scribbled notes here and there, April’s busy schedule and holiday meant I fell way, way behind in my main journal.

A nature journal page with a thoughtful man emoji

So what should we do about it when this happens? There’s a few different options, and I have done all of them at some point during the 6 years I have been nature journaling. The first question to ask yourself is what are you doing this FOR? That will inform which of the strategies below that you pick. Give yourself a bit of space to ask yourself this question, because you’ll need to ask yourself whether you really HAVE to push on and catch up before moving forward. 

Once you’ve got an answer to that very important question, you’ve really got two options:

1) Just forget about the pages you’ve missed. Write them off and move on to the current month;


2) Catch up through the pages you’ve missed and then get on with the current month.

Your answer to the question above will inform which of these two options you’re going to pick. If you’ve got an audience to whom you’ve made a commitment (like me having the commitments to produce content for you folks on Patreon, the YouTube channel and Instagram, plus to promote myself as a working artist), then Option (1) is not going to be for you. However, if you’re the one putting the pressure on yourself to complete it, and this “completionism” is getting in the way of your enjoyment of getting out to observe the nature that is out there right now, then it is probably time to simply move on. Forgive yourself, take a breath, and get on with documenting the nature you see around you.

If you’ve decided, for whatever reason, that no you really must get those pesky pages finished, then it’s time to think creatively about how you can cut a few corners to get them done and get back to recording the current month. I have found that working on speeding up my drawings in general has made all the difference here. If you are still experimenting, perhaps you could try a different, looser or pared-back style while you catch up.

Here’s my recent go-to list for some quick catch up ideas:

1) Lose a few materials. Just do a pencil sketch, or a line drawing in ink. Maybe forget the drawing altogether and go in with paint straight away. Do what you need to do to cut a few processes out of your overall method so you can fill the space more quickly.

2) Try printing. I am really enjoying printing leaves in botanical ink at the moment. This technique is great to fill a page or add a bit of embellishment.

3) Get the flower press out. Over time, you can use the flower press (or old heavy book etc.) as a “bank” of season-appropriate materials. The flowers will last quite some time in the press, and although some may fade a little, they still look beautiful in a journal and faded petals add a beautiful vintage feel. 

4) There is no shame at all in sticking in a photograph if you’re really stuck for time but want something on the page. This is not going to suit every journal style (it’d look out of place in my aesthetic for 2022) but it can really help to preserve a memory. A photograph printed out and stuck into your nature journal with some notes is infinitely more valuable than a photo lost among the hundreds on your phone.

So, I hope that helps you if you ever find yourself in the situation I am currently in. Once I am done with April, I can dedicate the rest of May to finishing off the month, and hopefully will be ready to start June on June the 1st… here’s hoping!

Good luck everyone, leave me a comment if this helps you and if you’ve got any other time-saving ideas, feel free to share, we’d love to hear them. 

Perhaps you’d like to share your ideas with the Nature Journaling Circle community? It’s free to join our little space. Find it here.

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