“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.”
“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Creativity and water: perfect together! The link between the two can be traced as far back as the third century B.C. when the Greek mathematician Archimedes found himself frustrated by a problem and decided to take a break by going to the public baths. Submerging himself in the warm water and finally relaxing, he noted idly that as he sank, the level of the water rose around him. He had discovered the concept of displacement and was so excited that he is said to have run naked through the streets of Athens yelling “Eureka!” — “I have found it!”
Archimedes was on to something. According to Henriette Anne Klauser the author of the wonderful guide, Write It Down, Make It Happen, being near water is one of the best ways to spark creativity. She quotes a Princeton scholar Julian Jaynes, who notes that the greatest scientific discoveries happen in the “Thee Bs: the bed, the bath, and the bus.” The “bath” here stands for any activity that involves water: taking a shower, swimming, walking in the rain, traveling by boat, relaxing by a river or stream or the ocean, or simply listening to the sounds of water. Any of these soothing sources of watery repose can help shake loose your mental cobwebs.
A few examples: When Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter for the film Social Media, was having problems with his script, he would “jump in the shower,” as a way of dealing with his writer’s block. Sometimes he did this two or three times a day! And my dad once told me a story about Alex Haley, the writer of Roots: when he was writing, he liked to travel on cargo steamers — just being on the water away from everything helped him concentrate. Then there’s Hemingway: he lived for years in Key West, Florida and his last book, The Old Man and the Sea is a hymn to water. And think about the Bronte sisters roaming the moors in all sorts of stormy weather.
As Henriette puts it: “Being near water, especially moving water, gets ideas to flow.” As a Pisces, I definitely think there’s something to this. There’s a pond in a park near my house that I love to walk around. How about you? Is there a way you can bring water into your writing life? Do you find that water boosts your relaxation and creativity? Write on!