My Ideal Writing Space, As Prompted By Toni Morrison

empty roomI’m in an empty room.

There are floorboards, yet it’s warm. The room is a few floors up, with large, three-quarter windows overlooking the street below and the rooftops beyond.

I can see red terracotta tiles and dark-bricked chimneys. The tops of fluffy green trees. In the distance, a church steeple pokes up towards the clouds.

The windows don’t have curtains or blinds or screens. They gaze out into the world all the time, all day, all night.

I can open them straight out into the sky and sit on their sills and imagine, write, create. In summer, they give way to beautiful breezes that remind me of childhood backyards, freshy cut grass and the smoky smell of a BBQ.

Outside, grey and white clouds crowd the sky. Everything’s wet. It’s cold out there, but I’m warm in here. I love the fact that I don’t have to leave, go out, face the world. I can stay in my imaginative hole. It’s home.

In the centre of the room there is a big old wooden desk and a comfortable, black leather chair.

On the desk there is a laptop, as well as a notepad and pens, and a stack of fiction books that I am currently reading.

The silence here is embracing and welcomed, a warming quiet to be filled with thoughts and dialogue and narratives and adventures. A blank canvas for uninterrupted, flowing thoughts and streams of consciousness.

Occasional sounds bring the room to life in other ways — voices or shouts from the street, a distant horn, a light rattling of the windows when the wind is keen and gust-full.

At one end of the room, near the door, is a lone beanbag, a side table, a music speaker and a small TV. These are for later, relaxing rewards for a day’s work of hard creativity.

The door to the room is old and wooden. It creaks when it opens and closes and the latch doesn’t work properly, but that’s okay. When you open the door, there is a small landing, plus a wooden staircase leading down, back into the world.

I wonder how to get to that staircase that leads up to my ideal room, a writing space that only exists in my mind.

I feel whole just knowing that if I close my eyes, I can go there, and soak into the imagined silence and unleash the stories spinning endless narratives inside my head.


It would be an understatement to say that Toni Morrison is “inspiring.” She gets up in the darkness before dawn to start writing. She uses number two pencils and legal pads to write the first drafts of her novels. She writes to make order out of chaos and she feels has to write in order to belong in the world.

All of this I got from a wonderful interview with Morrison in the Paris Review’s Women Writers At Work (ed. George Plimpton, 1998).

Early on in the interview, when talking about her daily writing rituals, Morrison goes on to say:

“I tell my students one of the most important things they need to know is when they are their best, creatively. They need to ask themselves,

What does the ideal room look like? Is there music? Is there silence?

Is there chaos outside or is there serenity outside?

What do I need in order to release my imagination?”


(image courtesy of digitalart /


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