Are you a writer who is only productive when you’re writing in a quiet place? Or do you need the hustle and bustle of your local Barnes & Noble’s to inspire you?
I have moods in my writing when I want peace and quiet, especially if I’m working through a particularly emotional scene. I tend to talk to myself, and that just doesn’t really work when you’re in a bookstore or a coffee shop. I mean, you can. People just look at you funny.
When I was younger, I could really only write at home in the basement when it was quiet. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that I actually enjoy writing around crowds. It’s a ton of fun because if you get stuck on something, you can just people watch for a little while. And boom! You get unstuck because something you saw someone do or something you heard someone say helped you over the wall you ran into, and you know exactly what your character needs to do to get himself out of the mess he’s in.
So that being said, where are some good places to write? I’m in the Wichita, Kansas area, and contrary to popular opinion, it’s actually a pretty happening place. You just have to know where to look.
Of course, Barnes & Noble’s is the mainstay. They have coffee. They have cheesecake. They have books. They have quiet music in the background. And they provide a valuable opportunity to watch people from every nationality and personality.
Wichita also has a wonderful little coffee shop downtown. It’s locally owned and operated. Mead’s Corner is the name, and it’s also another great place to write. Good coffee. Good food. Pleasant atmosphere. High top tables and plenty of outlets.
I have also done some writing at Starbucks, but you have to hit Starbucks at just the right time to be able to find a seat and a place to plug in. Once I went to write at Starbucks, and it was so busy and full I ended up at the Wendy’s across the street. And that worked perfectly well too, although I got a lot of people staring at me.
I have also been told that The Donut Whole (and it’s recently opened tea shop, the Jade Pearl) is another great place to write. And they have donuts!
If I need quiet, though, and I can’t be at home, another place that’s great is a library. I’ve done the majority of my writing at the University Library at Wichita State University. I used to work there, and I knew where all the power outlets were. So on lunch breaks or in between classes, I’d just set my laptop up somewhere deep in the stacks and bury myself in whatever novel I was working on at the time. If you’re ever at the WSU Library, though, beware of the third floor. It doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and you never know what you might encounter. So I stuck with the basement. There’s actually a set of hidden shelves in the basement. That’s where I would eat my lunch many times, and that’s where I put down quite a good number of words.
But Wichita has a lot of libraries, although I can’t really speak for all of them. But I’m sure they’re all great for writing. After all, if you need to research a topic, you have all the encyclopedias you could want right at your fingertips.
And if you happen to like writing outside, Wichita has a beautiful little place called Botanica. It’s the botanical gardens here, and it’s beautiful. There are plenty of places to sit and lots of subject matter to tackle if you need to take a break from what you’re currently working on. There are beautiful flowers and a house of butterflies and trees and lakes. It’s gorgeous. Granted, I would only recommend it in spring and summer, and maybe only half the time in fall since Kansas weather is so weird.
But beyond any other place, I love writing at home. I have a little office set up in my old bedroom. It has neither central air conditioning nor central heat, and the temperature can range from 15 degrees to 95 degrees. In the summer time, I put my window unit air conditioner on. In the winter time, I bundle up and turn my quartz heater on. I can sit at my office desk and look out my south windows at rolling hills of winter wheat and alfalfa, and I can look down to the garden and watch the cats and their crazy antics.
And it’s quiet. And nice. And I can stay in my pajamas. And, I don’t know about you, but I find my comfort level directly proportional to my productivity.
What about you? Where do you like to write?