Awesome Writing Spaces for Authors
By Amy Groening

I discovered my perfect writing spot quite by accident, when I sat down at a certain (not-quite-so-hip, and therefore not-quite-so-busy) coffee shop in Osborne Village, at the bar-style seating that overlooked River Avenue. Peering through rain-washed windows half-obscured by a large poster advertising the latest latte flavour, watching the cars shooting by on their way to Wellington Crescent, I found a moment of perfect peace. The music wasn’t too loud, the place wasn’t too busy, or too quiet; there was just enough background noise to energize me without distracting me. I could spend hours there if I wanted to. But before I found my perfect spot, I spent quite a few hours searching for that Moby Dick of writing spaces.

There are the places where we write, and then there’s the places where we wish we could write—quite literally. When I need to write, I can do it just about anywhere—in a crowded food court; in a bathroom stall; scratching out words on the back of a receipt, with a pen that’s about to run out of ink, using the shaky wall of a moving Transit bus as my writing desk. But in the back of my mind there’s a collection of beautiful, perfect writing spots, where conditions are perfect, and those usually elusive award-winning sentences just flit through the air like butterflies.

There are three main categories of “ideal” writing spaces, and I have done my best to try them all.

1) Famous Writing Spaces

The Famous writing spaces are those specific areas where some other writer found that conditions were perfect—and proceeded to hammer out the novel you are dying to even come close to emulating. Ever dreamed of pulling out a dusty chair at Shakespeare and Company in Paris and having a go at adding to the Lost Generation’s novel collection? Stopping in at Green Gables and attempting to create your Anne? The Elephant Café and giving J.K. Rowling a run for her money?

That knowledge that you are in the place where a work you admire was created can be exhilarating! However, the places where great books have been penned are easier to stock than the great authors themselves (especially considering many of these cafes have outlasted the authors that made them famous). Having been inside Shakespeare and Co. myself, I can’t imagine anyone getting writing done there these days—even F. Scott Fitzgerald himself (alright, so he wrote at a different one. Who’s counting?). You know who else had the brilliant idea to write there? Well, everyone, apparently—or browse the books, pick the bibliophilic shop workers’ brains, fantasize that they’re on the edge of the next great literary movement—in short, the place is harder to write in than a moving City of Winnipeg Transit bus.

Did I enjoy being there? 100%. Did I get any writing done? Not a word. Did it matter? Not so much. It just may be one of my favourite places to try and fail at writing—and that’s all that matters.

2) Trendy Writing Spaces

After crossing some of my favourite Famous Writing Spaces off of my dream writing list, I moved on to Trendy Writing Spaces: those places we like to think are ideal to write in based on…well, what exactly? Vibe? Stereotype? Photographs? The sophisticated espresso bar (packed with MacBook-toting sophisticates themselves), sublime mountain top, picturesque forest floor, the places “cool” writers go.

And when I say “cool” I mean cool in the 19th century romantic writer sense of the word. After taking a course on that very thing, I spent a long time searching for the perfect Manitoba nature spot to write in—and discovered that the main enemy of the Manitoba writer on a quest for Sublimity are mosquitos, rivalled closely by our infamous wind tunnels. I still believe that one day I will find the ideal outdoor writing spot—even if I have to move to do it!

3) Logical Writing Spaces

Now, these are the places where one really would expect you should be able to write. The antique writing desk you were lucky enough to inherit from your great aunt. Your office, study, or writing studio, where you can have your writing station set up just the way you like it, all your pens in order, your brainstorming scraps pinned to the walls, and a plot map hung above your desk. The whisper-quiet library, where you can set up shop at a desk tucked away in the 8th-floor stacks and hide out there until security finally comes across you at 10:01pm and shoos you out of the library, which may or may not already technically be closed.

These are great, if you can find them—the Dalhousie University library is a fine choice (until you move back to Winnipeg, that is), and that writing desk is great until you try to squash it into a 150-square-foot apartment and accidentally turn it into a glorified laundry drying receptacle.

Someday I may have an actual writing study to call my own, but until that time, that coffee shop is my answer. I ’ve recently discovered that my peace spot is shared by the main character of a novel from a Winnipeg author—and, I suspect, probably the novelist himself as well. Luckily I haven’t had to barter space with him yet (one of the pros of sharing a space with a fictional character), but I’m still half-hoping the author will turn up at some point; life imitates art, after all. Some spaces just call out to our writer’s sensibilities.

What’s your favourite writing space?

About this Contributor:

Amy Groening is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She holds an Honours degree in English Literature and is happy to be working in an industry where she can see other writers’ dreams come to life. She enjoys many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cat committing random acts of feline crime.

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