Even on summer mornings the open Atlantic can be wild and our local beach, Guincho, is often wind swept and cool. In this part of Portugal a perfect August Sunday morning cannot be taken for granted.

Today the sun shone gently from a cloudless light blue sky and yellow safe-swimming flags billowed over the beach. Far out the surfers skimmed, turned and swerved over deep blue powerful waves, yet the waves met the shore sedately, trimmed with decorous lacy foam.

Best of all were the people. Everyone of any age had a swimsuit on. The expressions on their faces ranged from quiet contentment to rapture as they swam, browsed the wet sand for shells or skidded over it on skimmy-boards, chatted, walked the long beach, found the ultimate position for getting a good tan, splashed each other, dug holes, made sand-castles, basked, played bat and ball, somersaulted, devoured fresh warm doughnuts from the beach-vendor’s tray or sat on a rock watching everyone follow their whim.

People were enjoying themselves in a hundred different ways. As the beach air eased them into losing track of time, one by one they retrieved their sense of wonder and were transfigured.

Many people enter this creative zone of relaxed attention only once a year when on holiday. Yet you can reclaim your creativity all year round if you wish to. Even in winter you can surf your imagination, splash waves over a crisp page, browse your brain for words and images and revel in your own uniqueness. With a dash of desire, a willingness to experiment and a wish to engage with the mysterious creative process, you can transform a cold, wet afternoon into as rich an experience as a perfect summer Sunday on the beach.

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You Are Not Alone: Writing the Infinite Page

First drafts happen by hand. My own particular kind of A4 lined block has a narrow red margin down the right-hand side of the page, a wider one down the left side, and within the left hand margin four punched holes. Although I rarely file the pages the holes are indispensable to the ritual of beginning. As for the pen, it must be be a PaperMate Flexgrip Ultra with a grey and black body and black ink. I buy my pads and pens in batches and always keep a stock.

There’s a physical, nervous restlessness as I start. Like a dog straining at the leash on its early morning walk I am straining to move the pen along, quickly, and to cover the page with my marks. If I don’t think too much the letters start to unfurl from my pen onto the paper. I change gear and soon I’m being written as much as writing.

Here in Portugal the recent special edition of the magazine “Visão” commemorating José Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning novelist who died earlier this month, quotes Saramago about writing:

“I’ve invented an expression which I find beautiful: to write on the infinite page. And that is how it feels: at the same time as the words I’m writing on this page are inscribing themselves, other words, many others, everywhere, are also being written.”

Whenever we write we are indeed “writing on the infinite page.” The words we choose are also choosing us. Once that process sets in I can transfer to the computer, but the initial unfurling of words is a physical process linking me to all the other writing going on as all the others, everywhere, who at this moment are writing, make their contribution to the writing of the infinite page.

Thinking about writing in this way can be helpful, particularly if you’re stuck. You are not just writing down what you have to say but rather melting into or giving into or tuning into a bigger event happening all around you, all the time, forever.

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