• Oh, the Places You’ll Go (to Write)

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Strategies     Comments 19 comments

    I’ve been thinking a lot about where I write recently. I share a four-bedroom house with five other people (one is my boyfriend of six years), so I don’t get a ton of privacy. Plus, the place is generally messy. And mess drives me batshit crazy. This week I finally worked up the gumption to make my house a writer’s nest. Personally, I need a clean space to feel mentally “clear.” It was well worth it, and it only took a a few (five or six) hours.

    Do you ever have that problem? You know what kind of environment supports your writing, but you’re too damn lazy or busy to make that environment a reality? Luckily, I almost always prefer to write at home. All the coffee and snacks I need, incense, and a bed where I can lay in total dishabille. (Writing while wearing a stupid bra or shoes feels so awkward. Like taking a standardized test. I prefer to write in my pajamas, but I feel like a schmuck wearing them in public.) I don’t need to go anywhere to get writing done, but I know many other writers feel differently.

    Occasionally, though, I’ll drag my misanthropic self to a coffee shop, etc., to power write. (Only when WriteByNight is closed, of course.)

    I live in Austin, so yes, they are Austin places:

    1. The Hideout. Because it feels like one and they have wine in addition to espresso, people-watching opportunities, and a speakeasy ambiance. It’s a great spot for writing fiction.

    2. OPA! Coffee and Wine Bar. I swear it has nothing to do with the “wine bar” thing. There are comfy couches, it usually isn’t too packed (more couches for the taking), and they have Mediterranean food. Baklava and dolmas go so well with coffee.

    3. Summermoon. These guys hand-roast their beans and concoct a delicious thing called “moon milk.” I think it’s ambrosia. A nice treat, especially right before a deadline.

    4. Rio Rita: It’s across the street from WriteByNight (very convenient). The vibe is surreal, sort of a dark ’60s lounge room feel. The color scheme brings to mind the scenes from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Gonzo and Hunter S. Thompson are at Circus Circus.

    5. La Tazza Fresca: Go a few blocks past Spiderhouse and you’ll hit La Tazza Fresca. You’re way more likely to find a seat and have available electrical outlets at your disposal. It’s quaint, has bottomless coffee, and I owe my thesis completion in part to La Tazza Fresca.


    So those are five of my public writing haunts. WBNers, what are some of yours?



    In addition to writing for WriteByNight’s blog, Jenna Cooper writes for BE Mag and a blog called FemThreads.  Aside from writing, Jenna served as an AmeriCorps Member from 2008-2010 and will start her M.S. in Information Studies in Fall 2012.  She graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in English from the University of Texas.

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    David Duhr

    I’ll have to try some of these joints out. I definitely get a lot of work done at Rio Rita, but in part because it’s a 20-second commute. Halcyon downtown works for me, too. In hot weather I duck into the bar at the Driskill during the day; it’s deserted and they blast the AC like nobody’s business.

    I feel very creative in malls, for some reason. The problem is that malls also make me want to barf. (Does that mean I feel very creative when I’m nauseous? I’ll have to keep an eye on this.)


    I’ve never been to the Driskil, but writing in a “haunted” place sounds appealing. Not that I believe in ghosts or anything :)

    Jeff Q.

    I’ll give the North Austin perspective, Koenig/2222 and above. I’ll go ahead and give STARBUCKS a half nod, but only because there are so many of them it’s possible to find some small, barely known shop where you can be almost by yourself. I know a Starbucks shop like that North of 2222, but it wouldn’t do to mention it here and then have the millions of people read this blog crash my serenity. When I want to be not found, I go to this particular Starbucks. THUNDERBIRD on Koenig is one of my favorites because they have healthy food… Read more »


    Coffee A Deli sounds great…I can’t do the hipster scene. Last place I went to like that was Progress Coffee. It was full of hipster, deathly quiet, and I got a few ‘And why the hell are you here?’ looks.


    I mean full of “hipsters.” But I suppose “hipster” makes them sound like a collective, ha.

    David Duhr

    I agree, Coffee A Deli sounds heavenly. And now it’s probably ruined for you, JQ. Maybe I’ll swing by there someday, check it out, see if you’re around.

    Although recommending Starbucks on this blog is *almost* enough to get you banned. Which you already know. Which is why you probably mentioned it in the first place–just to get my goat.

    Goat gotten.

    Jeff Q.

    So the guy who says he writes well in Malls can’t abide an occasional visit to Starbucks?



    David Duhr


    Yesterday I was at O’Hare Airport and really wanted a cup of coffee to go with my cigarette. Only option was Starbucks. I got in line, thought about you, got out of line, and smoked it dry.


    “Writing while wearing a stupid bra or shoes feels so awkward”. :-) Thanks for identifying what my problem was! Thanks also for spotlighting these new destinations – all worth a try. Yet in the spirit of being annoying, can I ask what the parking situation is like at these places? I’ve driven away from many a coffee shop if I can’t park with ease. You can’t expect a writer to be creative AND parallel park can you? My coffee shop de jour is Cherrywood Coffeehouse on East 38th (http://www.cherrywoodcoffeehouse.com/). They also have free yoga on Saturdays as well as some… Read more »

    David Duhr

    I don’t know about the parking situation at the others, but Rio Rita is street parking and it’s fairly easy to find something right in front.

    I know you already know that, since you’ve been to WBN. But for those who haven’t, parking is usually cake. Although I hear east East Sixth is going meter soon.


    The Hideout is the only one where parking is difficult since it’s on Congress. And thanks for the suggestion about Cherrywood Coffeehouse!

    David Fried

    I love the Hideout. Gotten a lot of work done there. And much as I hate to say it, Starbucks has been a really great spot for me, too. I’ll also give a shout out to Panera, which has a zillion electrical outlets for every table.

    One place I’ve really tried to love but can’t get any work done there is Genuine Joe. It’s fine for meetings, but the Internet connection is crap and too many of the seats are terribly uncomfortable.

    David Duhr

    I’ve heard that same thing about Genuine Joe’s. Not the spotty Internet, but the seats. Why? Why would someone fill a coffeeshop with uncomfortable seating? Bizarre.


    I may be the only person in the first world who finds writing at a coffee shop — where I’m probably in an uncomfortable chair and surrounded by other people and unpredictable noises — extraordinarily difficult. So unless I can find a nearly-empty coffee shop with extremely comfortable chairs, a small fan nearby making white noise, and people who don’t look at me weird when I start reading my characters’ dialogue out loud, I guess I’ll keep writing at home. That being said, I have been looking for more good coffee shops where I can bring a book and read… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Ha. I don’t even know what it would entail, but I think east East Sixth *should* go meteor. Maybe all of Austin should go meteor, in fact. I smell a grassroots movement, SARP.

    […] Earlier this week Jenna shared with us some of her favorite local places to write in public. Here I do the same–without forcing you […]

    […] Earlier this week Jenna shared with us some of her favorite local places to write in public. Here I do the same–without forcing you […]

    Frank Holder

    Every story has its own perfect setting. Never limit your reading or writing locations.

    […] Oh, the Places You’ll Go (to Write) […]

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