Room Based Writing

At the start of a learning process, when starting to think about a specific topic, for example ‘light’ or ‘water’.

  • Derived from Metro Writing, from Paris in the 1950s: Travelling in a metro, write every time the metro stops, stop writing when the metro continues moving.
  • Not necessarily in a classroom, but walking, discussing and writing in an environment: outdoors, a bus, or other places.
  • Starting from a topic: may be a very open or a very specific one
    • A phenomenon like light, or something concrete like a chair
  • The basic task: Free writing
    • Writing continuously, even when stuck, until something new comes up
    • Working spatially: listening, paying attention to oneself and one’s surroundings, describing things that are happening
  • Timing the writing is important: about three minutes is a good time to start with
    • Possible to give freedom of choice with timing: for example, when nothing new comes up, start moving again
  • Giving some instructions about space:
    • Find a tree to write under
    • Wander around
    • Jump on a bus, write there
  • Action-based instructions, for example: Walking around the space/place, write every time you:
    • Walk past a light  
    • Smell something
    • xxx
    • (When the metro has stopped)
  • After the writing portion, looking at one’s notes
    • Highlighting keywords or sentences that feel meaningful
    • Are there any surprises?
    • What things do you notice that talk about the topic under consideration?
  • Usually the writing is for personal viewing, not for showing others.
  • Possible to continue with the group to work on something.
    • Make drawings based on some of the observations in the writingWrite a storyMake movement
    • Continue with other group tasks
  • At the end of the learning process on the topic, doing the same exercise again with the same topic
    • What has happened, what has changed?
  • For the author, this reflection often involves making a simple book first, and writing into the book during the exercise.


  • Digging into one’s own knowledge
  • Connecting mind and body experience
  • Allowing surprising things to come up and connect
  • Not forcing, taking off the pressure to be smart or skilled
  • Giving space for intuition
  • Reflective point, not only on a cognitive level

Who with:

  • For anyone interested in looking at their own interest or knowledge, to get fresh ideas on something
  • May be adjusted for different ages


  • With school kids, may be done by writing just separate words, the same words may keep repeating until new ones come
  • By drawing instead of writing
  • With young children: by drawing, keeping the drawing timed


Gunndis Yr Finnbogadottir, Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavik.

Write anywhere. Photo: Ingimar