The Writer’s Room Within

“The writer’s room is more than a physical space.” – jb

When I listen to writers exchange stories and photos of their writer’s room, I think of John Cheevers who would ride the elevator to the basement of his apartment building each morning and write literary masterpieces in a small storage room. Cheevers’s writing process raises the question about the effect a work space has on creativity.

Most writers agree that ideas and stories aren’t conceived sitting at a desk with a pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard. In The World Is A Writer’s Room I wrote, “Stories happen in day-to-day life–in the wilderness and at the supermarket, banging nails and mowing the lawn, in homes and on street corners, on trains and at race tracks, in bedrooms and inside pubs…  trekking the white blaze on the Appalachian Trail.” And writers I speak with are always observing and jotting down notes, in the subway, the park, on their nightstand at 3 a.m.IMG_2675

The only way to write a narrative that describes the Grand Canyon so vividly that the reader feels as though they are standing on South Rim Trail with their toes at the edge of a cliff watching the Colorado River snake though orange cathedral peaks one mile below, is for the writer to access a state of mind conducive to describing it. A work space alone, regardless how idyllic and eclectic, won’t do that. A writer has to learn to access that state of mind through their own devices, whether by meditation, exercise, reading, or writing their way to it. A poet friend of mine sits and meditates with a notepad next to him and free writes as images come. The space to enter that state of mind will be different for each writer, and might be everywhere for some writers. It could be a coffee shop, the wilderness, or a storage room. But once a writer enters the space where creativity flows, he can place the reader in the Grand Canyon, or on the summit of Mount Blanc, at the Cliffs of Moher, or floating on the Grand Canal in Venice.

What does this all mean? A writer’s room is certainly an ingredient to the writing process, but the writing process will never be at its best until you learn to access the state of mind where creativity flows freely.


Floating Ideas



About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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