Creativity and “Blue Space”

The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul.

-Robert Wyland

 

Creativity comes in spurts for many writers, whenever they feel a draft of inspiration.

 

The more fortunate of we literary folks have honed down exactly what fuels our creativity, and make an effort to put ourselves in the path of inspiration. After all, we have deadlines. But for the rest of us, inspiration is a forever changing, fleeting sort of wild animal that is seldom seen, let alone domesticated. We experience writer’s block more often than most, struggle with bouts of unoriginality. We occupy ourselves with writer-related tasks, avoiding that blank page, each blink of the waiting cursor a stab at our patience and confidence. If this sounds familiar, then this post will greatly benefit you.

 

I know a universal source of creativity that works for everyone and is readily available, unless you’re an unusual and hapless stick in the mud.

 

BLUE SPACE

 

To define, “blue space” is the hypnotic, relaxed mental state one experiences at a source of water. A special combination of factors play on your senses and reduce depression, boost creativity, and restore your stress levels to a more balanced state. This “blue space phenomenon” can be found at the lake, the river, a babbling creek, the beach, a pool–virtually any water source.

Well, I’ve recently returned home from a short vacation to the powerful, mysterious, inspiring beaches of the OBX. For those of you who’ve never been: The Outer Banks of North Carolina. Do you imagine sunshine and surfboards, the smell of crab shacks, and a gentle breeze? Can you see yourself sitting on the beach with your toes buried in warm sand, laptop on your lap and an umbrella drink by your side, studying people, watching the waves, gleaning inspiration from everything within eyesight, content with the masterpiece you’ve just written? Well, now. How nice.

Being late March, the clouds overrode the sunshine I’d been expecting, turning the day to night. Nor’easters blew the storm door on our little house loose of its hinges and took part of our shingles. Beach sand blasted through my ill-prepped, thin layer of clothing, and, defying physics, somehow filled my undergarments. My travel mates locked themselves in the the beach house to ride out the storm. I headed for the shore.

 

 

The waves rose high and crashed, reverberating beneath my sternum. The wind swept the beach and sang a low pitch through the sand fence. I had an entire twenty mile stretch of mother nature to myself, and what a shame–for everybody else. I was experiencing the blue space phenomena, even during unfavorable conditions. I weathered the nor’easter outside, just far enough back from water’s edge that the ravenous ocean couldn’t reach, and made trip after trip, day and night, back to the beach. It’d become an infection, and I miss it now. I sat on the beach one night bundled in a double layer of pants and my mother-in law’s muck boots, watching the full moon fight the clouds. I puffed on a cigar and shivered until my teeth clattered, listening to the ocean speak to me. It gave me ideas for my second novel, whispering them in a language only I could hear. It filled me with confidence and energy, even though I’d been up for thirty-six hours. The ocean told me exactly how to fix those plot holes. And with shivering hands and a runny nose, I tapped the notes into my phone.

 

The sea, once it casts it’s spell, holds one in its net forever.

-Jacques Cousteau

 

 

The last two days of vacation were met with calmer seas and perfect sixty-nine degree temperatures. I combed the beach and collected my shells. I even got my feet wet. Surfers surfed and fishermen fished, and the ocean did its thing. Everything I wrote in the OBX I was pleased with, and perhaps because the ocean helped me write from my heart. I switched up my query letter and sent it out, receiving a partial request. Even if it results in yet another rejection, I can never deny the benefits of the OBX, its legends and tales of pirate treasure, its ocean.

Grab a pen and your notebook and get to water’s edge.

Let me know if you’ve experienced blue space in the comments, and how it’s helped you along your writing journey. We can all benefit from a good beach story.

 

 

 

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