January 14, 2014

Studios of Your Selves: The Spaces in Which You Create

Writers' room, Jane Gardam, 2009 (courtesy: The Guardian)

Thanks to the glacial polar vortex that swept much of United States last week, I spent virtually the entire time house-bound and working on several writing projects: journalism, fiction, academic, and non-fiction (and of course, blogging!). For some reason, as I shuffled from one project to another, I started to become more mindful about how/where I wrote; thinking about that made me recall one of my favorite photography series published in The Guardian, Writers' Rooms, which were essentially portraits of the spaces in which the authors created their works. The writers' commentary about the spaces would accompany the portraits in which they would refer to descriptions of the spaces, such as the texture of the light pouring into the room or stories about the furniture surrounding them, unusual nicknacks populating their desks, and nuggets of insights into their writing processes. While it was fascinating to learn of how they wrote, it was also equally intriguing to see where they wrote.

 As for me, I have always been more concerned about my desk than the immediate surroundings. When I was younger, I used the vanity to display the pretty frivolities I had accumulated: miniature boxes, figurines, make-up, and jewelry but my desk was resolutely functional: a pen stand, journals and notebooks, and...emptiness. Even now, I find it difficult to work on a cluttered desk (whatever they say about cluttered desks = vibrant minds!) The rest of the room may be in calibrated chaos yet my desk has to be plain and unadorned and existing for one sole purpose: to be a space conducive for writing, whether in notebooks or laptop.


As I have previously mentioned, I haven't particularly strongly colonised our current living space, aware that we will have to soon dismantle and pack it all; and so, there is a conscious dearth of spaces which I have specifically carved out in which to create. At the moment, the only requirements I demand of a writing space is silence and a steady surface upon which to balance my notebooks or laptops. Apart from my home, libraries hugely appeal to me but incubating creativity in a coffee-shop is probably not for me: I would be much too distracted by the hustle-bustle and indeed, a human library of sorts to browse through: library of sounds, conversations and people!

But...say, if I were to have a writer's room or studio, what would it be like? I decided to play a little game of make-believe with myself and conjure up a Writer's Room of my own...

Indigo-Aqua (courtesy: Pinterest)
"One wall is indigo blue and that's because it reminds me of the sea of indigo-blue houses in my home city, Jodhpur. I don't like too many things on my walls because I prefer expanses of white spaces - even if you do see something, they are most likely to be statement pieces like large colorful abstract paintings or photographs, rather than a grid-like gallery of photographs, posters, and paintings.

My mother's shawl and My Mother's Wedding Dress
I drape my chair with several shawls and pashminas; sometimes, unconsciously, while I am writing and start feeling cold, I will pluck one out and drape myself with it - and when I finish writing, I am startled to find myself draped in it.They also add a lovely splash of color to the room!

Eccentric blooms and magazines

Apart from pens, my diary and journal, and of course, the laptop, you will also find a stack of magazines sitting on the desk: fashion, art, interiors, and celebrity gossip (yes, I plead guilty to this pleasure!) Suffice to say, I am a visual junkie: you never know how an image or even a line from a text may jumpstart my imagination.Finally, there is nothing like a vase full of variegated flowers, each with their eccentric, quirky personality, to impart character to room.

Well, it appears to be a rather sparely dressed studio...perhaps, with time, it will be a much more nuanced, layered room:)

What kind of a writing/creative space studio would you like to work in? And if you already work in a studio/creative space, I would love to hear its description!


  1. There is this image that I saw in a magazine a long time ago, it showed William Dalrymple writing at a table outside his house and there was this giant bougainvillea growing beside him. I've never found that picture again on Google searches, but somehow, that seems to be my ideal.
    My present creative space is a lovely one. I have light falling from the window at my old table, a tree outside, a large pin-up board beside me and everything I could possibly want close-by and within reach.
    How nice to drape yourself in pashminas while you write. And I love the term 'visual junkie'. It is very apparent that you are one from the photographs you choose for us in your blog posts :)

    1. Great to hear your thoughts, Priya! Speaking of William Dalrymple, I also recall reading a piece about his study/writing studio, which also featured photographs of the room -I believe they were taken in his farm-house in Delhi. I thought to myself then, this is one writer's room I would love to visit! The giant bougainvillea bush you describe adds to the charm...

      I appreciate you telling me about your creative space and it indeed sounds lovely - the light, the old table, a tree outside, pinboard...at times, the space in which you create is a huge inspiring force and your beautiful illustrations are certainly testament to that!

      Yes, I certainly am a visual junkie - I must admit that I borrowed the term after reading an interview with an artist who described herself as such...I realised then that it too described me aptly! Hope you enjoy the photographs:)

  2. This post just inspired me to spruce up my writing/creative space!

    1. Hi Jennifer! First of all, thank you so much for visiting...do come by again:) Am so glad to hear that the post inspired you to spruce up your writing/creative space. Would love to hear how you did so! Perhaps, I need to translate my imaginary writing space into a real one too...!

  3. Ahhh super post...work desks should be super inspirational..

    1. Thank you so much also for stopping by...and glad that you liked the post! I agree, work desks should be inspirational in a way that means a lot to you - it's your creative home, after all:)


Thank you so much for taking the time out to leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you!