Where to write out of the house

Here's an article that offers an alternative to the local coffee shop for getting some writing done outside the home:

Better Than Vanilla: Where’s the perfect workspace for a freelance writer?, by Chad Schomber

It's a place with free wi-fi, comfy seats, convenient outlets, and a hushed atmosphere. Guessed it?

It's the library.

I alternate between the library and a coffee shop when I need a place to hang out while I'm out with my laptop.

The things I most like about the library?

  • Plenty of seating, including cozy armchairs and sturdy tables, depending on your needs
  • Atmosphere much more conducive to working than just goofing around on Twitter (ahem)
  • Can stay as long as you want without feeling guilty about not paying enough "rent" — your taxes will take care of that!
  • In the same vein, can employ the outlets and wi-fi in a cavalier manner
  • Need a reference book for research, or perhaps a magazine for a break? They're all right there.
  • Since I'm on a Mac, sometimes I use the library computers as references for how my site looks and behaves on a PC. And, of course, if you don't have a laptop, here's your chance to enjoy some unfettered out-of-home computer access!
  • Clean, unlocked restrooms

What I'm not so fond of?

  • Can't eat or drink
Sigh. I get in the mood for a snack, or at least something to wet my whistle as I work. Sure, there's a drinking fountain out in the lobby, but it's hardly the same thing as nursing a mug of white tea, is it?

Other places I've brought my laptop?

I've hung out at various cheap restaurants. Teriyaki places and sandwich shops work well, if they're close enough to leach the wi-fi from a Starbucks. You have to buy something to justify your seat, but honestly — a meal at a place like that can be cheaper than a drink at Starbucks! Barnes & Noble has really comfy seating and a café, a relaxing atmosphere, and plenty to browse if you're feeling uninspired. The downside to all these places: no outlets. So you have to save your battery but good. I keep my screen dimmed to migraine levels, so it's a trade-off.

Working outside is a catch-22. It has to be warm (and non-rainy) enough to be comfortable to sit outdoors for a long period. (Many's the time I thought the day was pleasant until I stopped moving and realized it was darn chilly.) But when it's warm enough to be comfortable, it's usually bright enough that your laptop screen is completely unreadable.

If all else fails, of course, there's always going back home...

Where are your favorite places to write? Any new locales I should scope out?

Photos courtesy, from top, brewbooks on flickr (cc) and Ed Yourdon on flickr (cc)


Thomasin said...

Ok, this will sound semi-crazy, but when working outside I really enjoy... the cemetary. It's quiet, beautiful, and the cemetaries I frequent (yes, I'm aware that sounds crazy) are filled with trees so my laptop is shaded enough that I can actually see the screen. It might go without saying that I'm careful to be respectful, sit on a blanket (not on the tombstones!) and gravitate to the older section of the yard (very very few visitors ever see me, since I'm hanging out in the 1800-1920 sections). It's worked for me.

Also: are you sure you can't eat/drink in your library? I'd always assumed I couldn't at mine, but then noticed others in there with coffee cups from Victor Allen's. I spoke with the librarian and she said that they're fine with beverages so long as they have lids. Awesome!

Lauren Wayne said...

That sounds interesting! Quiet, shaded, out in nature — nope, sounds perfect to me. I'll have to see if there are any old graveyards around here. The ones I know of are all recent, and like you said, I'd feel weird if a funeral procession spotted me hanging out with my laptop.

Our library has signs up saying no food or drink, maybe because of the homeless population in the city? Well, also people like me, who routinely spill liquids onto keyboards (sigh). So I was assuming it was enforced, since I never see people with drinks there. But maybe if I asked permission, I could at least have my (closed) water bottle with me. Or I could hide a snack in my bag and lean down to nibble and then play dumb. ;)

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