Every writer needs to have a list of creative places. These are places where a writer can go and do some work or daydream. Creative places also serve as a break in the monotony of a large project that has found your butt glued to the same chair.
Sometimes you just have to crawl out of the pile of paper clutter and dirty coffee mugs and get outside. I find working in different places can give me new perspective on a project. And bonus: It’s an excuse to shower. Because I’m gross and totally won’t if I don’t have to leave the house.
I’m not one of those internally motivated people.
Also, I just want to live a life where I shower on my terms, okay?
Regardless of your bathing schedule, having a list of creative places is good for all writers. It gives you a backup space when your normal spot won’t do, and it allows you to take yourself out on a working date. And don’t you deserve a nice working day out?
Yes. Yes you do.
My criteria for creative places is as follows:
- Must be a space where a person can feasibly work. No uncomfortable chairs or too-high tables.
- Must provide a modicum of inspiration. If the muse can’t get in, then what’s the point?
- Must be relatively cheap. No charges over $10 for one sitting.
Some may find my criteria limiting. And I know there are a ton of really cool co-working spaces that have a lot to offer. But in the interest of full disclosure, know this. I have a degree in creative writing and I work as an educator. I live in a state that values creative arts and education very little. So, I’m cheap. And with that, here’s my list of creative places.
My Top 10 Creative Places
001: My Bed
Okay. I know that all the work-life balance gurus would scoff at this one, but I love curling up under my blankets with my laptop on my lap. In fact, I think there was a time in all our lives when we found ourselves doing homework in our beds. That’s pretty much how I got through middle and high school. For me, my bed is on my list of creative places because it reminds me of getting work done when I was younger. And the creative writing I did in my teens was infinitely more free than what I do now. So, I say work in your bed to get back to that mindset.
002: My Office
I’m very lucky to be able to afford a space that also gives me a whole separate room for my office. And while “office” probably doesn’t automatically scream “creative places” to you, I’ve done a lot to ensure my office is a place where I can consistently feel inspiration. I’ve got a vision board that outlines my goals for my blog and my writing, as well as a metric butt-ton of art supplies, should I need to take a break from wordsmithery to do some watercolors.
003: On Campus
This kind of goes back to why I consider my bed to be a creative place. I currently work at the university I attended as an undergrad, and there are moments when I’m metaphorically punched in the gut with the feelings I had when I was 19 or 20. One of the places I used to spend a lot of time was on the bench dedicated to Ralph Ellison. I’d pull out my Moleskine and just write. So, occasionally, when I want to access those feelings, or write the way I did when I was 19 or 20, I’ll hit up that bench.
If you can, I highly recommend going back to some of the places you used to write when you were first starting out. It’s insane what sort of inspiration you can find there.
004: The Ideal Coffee Shop
So, you can file this under “college town blues,” but I think it’s impossible to work in a coffee shop. Why? Well, it’s probably because every single table is chock-full of students who are loudly studying chemistry while simultaneously texting about the next alpha kappa lambda omega tau delta sigma omicron phi date party. But, in my heart of hearts, I know there’s a coffee shop somewhere in my fine city where I can focus on writing. And when I find this ideal coffee shop, I WON’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT’S MINE DAMMIT.
005: The Library
This will totally depend on the vibe of your library, and what kind of library you have access to. Libraries make great creative places because they’re already set up for you to use as a workspace, and they are blessedly quiet. (Well, that is, if your public library is set up to keep the kid’s section away from the work spaces.) I also recommend going to a university library. You don’t have to be a student to just walk in and use the space. Usually, the tables are bigger for co-working, and the books are a lot older and weirder. And if you’re like me, then you choose the most haunted-looking place to hunker down and write.
006: A Quiet Pub-Style Bar
I so desperately want to have a local bar where I go and read a book or write for a bit. This is another “college town blues” thing, I guess, but when you live in the city of a university with a legendary football team, all the bars tend to be sports bars with huge flat screens everywhere. And the majority of the rest tend to be places where the music is loud and terrible, and the lighting is super dark. Someday I will find the quiet pub-style bar where the music is at a decent volume, the sunlight shines through the windows, and I can write for hours while sipping on whatever beer happens to be on special that day.
007: Your Parents’ House
Over Christmas, I spent four days at my parents’ house. On the 26th, I sat in their living room while everyone else was at work, and I got a lot of writing done. We’re talking like 5 blog posts in the space of four hours. (This was just the writing part of blog posts. No photos formatted or social media scheduled.) The best part of this was that I got to eat leftover Christmas tamales and pecan pie while I worked. The downfall was that my parents have like 80-kabillion channels, and I got sucked into a Hoarders/Intervention marathon as soon as I finished writing. And nothing sucks your will to live (and your creative drive) like watching Hoarders and Intervention.
008: On a Train
So, full disclosure: I’ve never been on a train before. (Does the Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios count?!) But when I heard about the Amtrak writer’s residency program, I knew it was something I totally wanted to do. I’m a little sad that the program itself is kind of up-in-the-air right now, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t contemplated buying a roundtrip ticket somewhere just so I could write on a train for a while, kind of like a mini writer’s retreat.
009: A Quiet Park
Picture this: The sun shines on your face as you sit on a blanket in the middle of a park. The grass is soft and cool, and the trees sway softly in the breeze. Birds chirp and children laugh in the distance. You type away at the keys on your laptop, and write the Next Great American Novel in the comfort of your local park.
Okay. Maybe I’ve never written the NGAN. But I love writing in a park. Think of it as a working picnic. And parks are the perfect sort of creative places where you can post up for an hour, work, and then leave WITHOUT having to buy a coffee or a beer to use the space.
010: A Bookstore
RIP the Norman Hastings. (And all Hastings stores.) That book store coffee shop was ideal for working. And when you got tired of the conversations, you could move further into the bookstore, post up in a chair, and hash out some words. There’s just something about writing in a place where you’re surrounded by the works of others who are doing what you’re trying to do.
Any Other Creative Places?
Now it’s your turn. Tell me all your favorite creative places! Where do you go to get work done? What place inspires you the minute you step in the door? What’s your ideal workspace?
Let me know in the comments!