Where Is The Best Place to Write?

Though it’s technically true that writers can write anywhere as long as they have a laptop or a pen and paper, the right location matters. Some writers have a home office, or a writing nook, or a favorite coffee shop. Others, like me, are still trying to find that mythical place where writing magic happens…

My default writing location is at HOME. There are a lot of reasons for this:

  1. No commute. Can roll out of bed and be working within five minutes.
  2. Comfort. No need to wear proper clothes or apply makeup. Pajamas rule!
  3. Winter. Don’t have to go outside during Canada’s six months of sub-zero weather.
  4. Food. Unlimited snacks and good meals at a fraction of the price of a café.
  5. Bathroom. No packing up my valuables when I need to pee.
  6. Nap time. ‘Nuff said.

But then there are downsides:

  1. Nap time. Writing on the couch is never productive.
  2. Distractions. Oh look, those shelves need to be dusted, that book wants to be read, and my desk should be organized.

Okay, I only listed two downsides, but they are very serious productivity killing downsides. So I went in search of places to write outside of the home.


Tequila Bookworm, Toronto
Tequila Bookworm, Toronto

THE NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ. I used to live on Queen West in Toronto, an artsy area where cafes are filled with artists on laptops. Just down the street from me was one called Tequila Bookworm. With a name like that, how could I not want to write there?

Café Pros:

  1. No distractions. I have nothing else do to except write.
  2. Accountability. In public, I can’t stare off into space / talk to myself / nap or people will think I’m crazy. I have to focus on work.
  3. Productivity. Leaving home tricks the brain into work mode.

Café Cons:

  1. Music. Most cafes play music, but I like silence when I write. Though I sit in the quietest part of the café and wear earplugs, that often isn’t enough.
  2. Outlets. If you have an old laptop with a lousy battery (like me), fighting others for outlets can be a problem.
  3. Money. To sit in a café, you need to buy something, and even if that’s just a few dollars on tea and a muffin, it adds up and doesn’t jive with my “10 Tips to Survive the Starving Artist Lifestyle.
Toronto Reference Library
Toronto Reference Library

So I tried the LIBRARY. Toronto is full of libraries, all of which are regularly busy and filled with people working, reading and checking out books. The mother of all Toronto’s libraries is the Reference Library. This is where a screenwriter friend and I chose to write.

Library Pros:

  1. Quiet. So awesomely quiet.
  2. Free. You don’t have to buy anything to be in the library, though there’s a café on the ground floor if you want to. I brought tea in a thermos and a bagged lunch.
  3. Research. Need to research 19th century Australia cave explorers? You can!

Library Cons:

  1. Valuables. If you’re a local at a small café, you can probably trust the barista to not let anyone steal your laptop while you go to the bathroom. At a library as large as the Ref, you must take all valuables with you or have a friend watch your stuff.
  2. Travel time. For me, this was a commute, and I found I spent a lot of time getting ready in the morning, packing my lunch, and suiting up to cycle through snow-covered streets.

Another option is renting OFFICE SPACE. I know some screenwriters who rent an office together and it seems to work. It has all the pros of a café without the cons – except for the money thing. But if you’re flush with cash, rent an office!

As for me, I haven’t found my perfect writing place. Maybe I don’t have one. Everywhere I’ve tried to write has its pluses and minuses, so with that in mind, I’ve decided to change it up. When I’m motivated and focused, I’ll write from home so I don’t waste money or time commuting. When I’m finding it hard to focus, I’ll force myself to go to the library or a café where I have nothing else to do except write. And maybe that’s my magical writing place – a hodge-podge of locations to suit my changeable moods and needs.

Where do you write? Have you found the best place?


Up Next from Heather… It’s my birthday! And I’m crossing an age milestone, at least in my opinion, and that’s been making me think a lot about what the heck I’m doing with my life, where I’m at as a writer, and all that jazz. So perhaps I’ll blog about goals and/or getting older in an industry fascinated with youth

Click here for more posts from Heather.


Author: Heather Jackson

Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at heatherjacksonwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW

7 thoughts on “Where Is The Best Place to Write?”

  1. See, I love the idea of writing somewhere away from home, as I do get distracted by anything and everything, but going somewhere else and setting up my laptop and all the other things I NEED to take with me, actually takes time out of my writing time; plus as you say – the costs. Then, on top of that, I easily find myself eavesdropping, or wondering what other people are eating, etc etc. I really can’t be trusted in public. Or at home.

  2. Haven’t you ever heard of the Toronto Writers’ Centre? I’ve been a member for years. A quiet space to write, don’t have to worry about your valuables, in the heart of the city, don’t have to keep buying lattes just to stay, lots of outlets, wifi, a kitchen and a bathroom, open 24/7 (you get a key when you join, and a code to the security). It’s basically inexpensive office space. Highly recommended.

    1. Hi Christine! I have heard of the Toronto Writers’ Centre – a friend of mine used to write there and he loved it. And it is just down the street from my house. I should have mentioned that as an option for anyone in Toronto. It is fairly affordable at $125 a month, but alas, even that pittance isn’t in my budget. One day, though. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I definitely can’t do cafes — the children-running-around factor is too much for me, plus I sometimes get distracted with observing people! The library idea is good, if there’s a good, decent, quiet library around, that is (that isn’t always the case…) – I find writing at night, in a semi-dark room, with a decent table, all other electronic devices off, is really the most conducive to productivity. But you’re right, finding a “spot” is very hard, perhaps a lifelong challenge.

    1. I too prefer writing at night! That’s a downside of the library I didn’t mention – they often close in the early evening. Plus the rest of the world expects me to work during the day and socialize or run errands or sleep at night. Silly society. But yes, a lifelong challenge indeed. Thanks for the comment, and happy writing, Catherine!

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