Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Room of One's Own by Smoky Trudeau

Creativity is not a gift of some sort that you are born with. Creativity is a state of being. There is no magic bullet to teach you to be creative, but there are tools that can help you change the way you see yourself, teach you to view yourself as a creative being.

Creativity is hampered by a too-hectic environment that does not provide quiet time for reflection and introspection. It is also hampered by:

  • a sterile environment that does not feed the senses
  • demands for quick production of results, both tangible and intangible
  • harsh words from ourselves as well as from others
  • stress, which steals energy from our creative selves and damages our health
  • routine, which limits our range of responses available, makes us automatons

Space to call your own is very important, because this allows you to create a sensory stimulating environment. Virginia Woolf wrote an entire book about it: A Room of Her Own. So did Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift From the Sea.

Of course, not everyone has an entire room they can claim as their own. But isn’t there a corner of a room you can claim as your private creative space? The size of the space isn’t what is important. It’s having a nook where you can be free to write, to draw, to make sculptures or collages or whatever it is you want to do.

My own creative space is tiny—only four feet wide by about ten feet long. In my space I have my desk and computer for writing, and a bookshelf with books on art and writing. I’ve got boxes of clay, paint, markers, bits of wire, scraps of pretty paper—anything and everything I find that might some day work its way into an art project.

I also have a toy box. Full of toys. Not cast-offs from my children—these are my own toys. And yes, I play with them, especially when I’m creatively blocked. Why? Who are the most creative creatures on the planet? Kids, of course! That is, before we adults drum their creative imaginations into submission. Playing with toys—being childlike (as opposed to childish), stimulates creativity.

Yes, my creative space is very, very crowded (especially when my 84-pound dog and two cats decide to sprawl out and squabble over what little floor space there is). But it is mine. And wondrous things are created there.

Smoky Trudeau is the author of the newly released Observations of an Earth Mage, a collection of photos, essays, and poems celebrating our beautiful planet earth. She is also the author of two novels, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin, as well as two books for writers, Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside Your From Start to Finish, and Left Brained, Write Brained: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises, all from Vanilla Heart Publishing. You can learn more about Smoky at,, or at her blog on Xanga, You can also look her up on Facebook.


  1. Such places make a difference whether they're cabins in the woods, spare rooms turned into dens, or the extra kitchen counter on the other side of the toaster oven.

    My den was intended by the builder as a spare bedroom. The walls are covered with books and my old wood desk is one that was in my family's house in Syracuse, NY in the 1940s. It followed us everywhere and now it's not only a very sturdy surface for a PC or two, but filled with memories held by the ancient sunlight within the wood.

    Nice post, Smoky. I don't have an 84-pound dog, but things get snug in here when all four cats come in at once.


  2. My writing space is a corner desk next to a window that overlooks my backyard. While I can write "some things" on my netbook in the living room, I am most comfortable seated at my messy desk in a 10x10 room that's cluttered with boxes. But it is MY space, MY desk (that I have to share with one of the cats). I can close the door when I need to be alone, stare at the wildlife that visits my backyard when I want to daydream, chat on the phone if I need company or even watch my own little TV if I want to catch up on the news. My own space - I've got it all.

  3. Malcolm: I've seen pictures of your desk and bookshelves--not sure where, but I remember thinking it looked like the perfect writing spot for you.

    Chelle: Your space sounds a bit like an east coast version of my space. It's wonderful to be able to look out and view wildlife!

    Both of you: Cats always take precedence over anything else on a desk. Or bookcase. Or desk chair. Or floor. The cats make these rules, not their writers. I've discussed changing the rules with Beetlejuice and Po, and they simply laugh in my face...

  4. This is so true! I don't have a room just for myself, but I've picked out the nicest spot in the house for my desk: under the picture window in the living room. When I'm writing my husband puts on the "cone of silence" and leaves me in peace (for the most part, lol). We must create the space in which we are creative. :) Great post, Smoky, thanks!

  5. Sounds like you've got a wonderfully supportive husband, Misha! Glad you have a nice place to write--you deserve it.

  6. Great post, Smoky! It's so important to have a creative sanctuary - whether it be a small corner or a an entire room to yourself. I've been escaping the house and sitting on the deck to write. It's peaceful and helps me get in the zone!

    I think it's funny that most of us have pets and that they dominate our writing spaces. My big guy no longer fits under the desk, but he's always at my feet and 2 of my 5 kitties enjoy walking across my keyboard and nibbling on sticky notes :-)

    Happy writing to all no matter where you do it!

  7. My room has a crib, toy chest, sundry blocks and cat toys all around. And in one corner-mine-mine alone. Please don't touch. Where words pour onto the keyboard and notes are strewn about. Organized chaos as the vintage writer learns more about expression and how to paint a scene until it lifts off the page.
    Thanks Smoky, for all your wisdom. I've learned so much from you.



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