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The sea can provide both relaxation and inspirationWritten in salt

Relaxing on the beach or the waterfront with a good book is many people's idea of a dream holiday. But writing yourself is also an option. The sea can provide both relaxation and inspiration.

Strandhuisjes Vlissingen

For as long as people have been writing novels, they have been writing about the sea. Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Moby Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, Life of Pi – if you want to read a book in which the sea plays a (starring) role, you won't have to look very far. Romance, adventure, drama, biographies – water trickles down into every genre.

INSPIRATION AND REFLECTION

Its formlessness makes it possible to project all kinds of feelings onto the sea and describe it in a wide variety of words and ways. For example, in Ulysses James Joyce wrote about ‘The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea’ while in Anne of Green Gables, L.M Montgomery evokes completely different feelings: ‘Look at that sea, girls – all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.'

WRITING ABOUT THINGS WHICH INTEREST YOU PERSONALLY MAKES YOU HAPPY

BEN TIGGELAAR

Not only does the sea form a source of inspiration, it also encourages reflection. In the words of the Dutch poet Willem Kloos: ‘The Sea, the Sea splashes on, in endless undulation, / the Sea in which my Soul is reflected’. Vincent van Gogh compared the heart of man with the sea: ‘It has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.’ And in All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr wrote: ‘Sometimes I catch myself staring at it [the sea] and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.’

IT HAS ITS STORMS, IT HAS ITS TIDES AND IN ITS DEPTHS IT HAS ITS PEARLS TOO

VINCENT VAN GOGH

HOW ABOUT WRITING YOURSELF?

Not only does the sea offer inspiration and reflection, it is also a source of relaxation. We've all experienced it: worries just seem to melt away after a walk or sunbathing session on the beach. This is because the negative hydrogen ions in the sea air ‘hoover up negative energy’, as it were. The sea and the beach therefore offer relaxation, inspiration and reflection – the best ingredients for picking up a pen (or opening a laptop).


Whether you want to write a diary or a novel, a holiday offers the time and space you need and the sea can certainly help to inspire you. Writing is a great occupation because – as trainer and publicist Ben Tiggelaar recently claimed in his column in the NRC Handelsblad – writing makes you smart and happy and helps you to process things. ‘Writing about things which interest you personally, for example in a blog or diary, makes you happy’, says the columnist. It works even better if you write down dreams for the future or positive experiences and keep a gratitude journal. Research has shown that observing what you are grateful for on a regular basis leads to ‘positive emotions, good relationships, better sleep and an increased sense of well-being’.

SWEAT, TEARS OR THE SEA

Just try it during your next holiday by the sea. Sit by the water with a pen and paper or a laptop and just start writing. Listen to the sea and think of Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis: ‘How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.’ Be inspired by Anaïs Nin, who wrote in The Four-Chambered Heart: ‘I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.’

Writing will allow you to discover your own inner mermaid or merman. And if the muse won't come right away, you can always go for a dip. As Out of Africa author Karen Blixen wrote: ‘The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.’

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