22 Places to Write When You’re Tired of Working at Home

freelance writer
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Sometimes freelancing is a little too free.

Wearing your pajamas for days in a row and not brushing your teeth before noon can be delicious luxuries at first, but it gets old after a while.

How can freelancers beat the “work-from-home blues?” Try getting out of the house and getting a little work done in one of these great “co-working” spaces. While they’re not all traditional places to work, they have some great perks and advantages.

Be sure to check out WiFi connectivity or be prepared to work offline in some of these locations. And scope out a backup location to take any important phone calls — no one likes to get shushed!

1. Library

Writers love being surrounded by endless shelves of inspiration. Libraries make great work spaces, and often have quiet study rooms or work spaces you can reserve for free.

Plus, the WiFi is usually speedy and plenty of resources (and librarians) are on hand if you come across a tricky research question.

Typically, libraries aren’t the best places to take calls (unless you have a truly soundproof room reserved) and you’ll have to go elsewhere to drink your coffee and have your lunch.

But for a few hours of productivity, libraries are a top option.

2. Coffee shop

Coffee shops are classic writers’ haunts for a reason. While caffeine is a great aid to churn out page after page of top-notch narrative, coffee shops also offer snacks, meals and juices to keep you full and productive.

Scope out a table with outlet access, but be mindful of other customers and don’t overstay your welcome. Limit your time to an hour or two unless the cafe is really slow (in that case, ask if they mind you sticking around). If you’re there more than an hour or two, order regularly and tip well!

Sometimes noisy places can even help you write.

3. Public park

Public parks offer space to get your nature fix and keep up with your work. Follow these tips for working outside and head out to your local park. Consider bringing your own chair or blanket since picnic tables can be a little hard to sit at after a while.

4. Porch

Why not head outside and get some work time in right on your own porch? Be mindful of any potentially distracting neighbors who may be looking for a good chat, but otherwise porches offer great convenience.

You can typically adjust your WiFi router so you still have service outside, and when you get hungry, thirsty or need a restroom break, all you have to do is walk back inside.

5. Coworking space

Co-working spaces with names like “Spark” and “Hub” are popping up all over the country offering membership-based and pay-as-you-go options for freelancers looking to head into an office space.

However, these spaces can be pricey, costing as much as $850 a month for a designated space (though it typically costs less for a “hot-desking” situation where you grab an open cubicle or a spot at a communal table). Many coworking spaces offer perks like printing, conference rooms and other amenities that can be a big draw for freelancers and small businesses

6. Museum

If you love a nearby museum, consider springing for an annual membership and using the museum as your workspace from time to time.

Sitting on a bench near inspiring paintings or soaking in the natural history on a break can offer a brain refresh and give you an opportunity to get some work done in a new setting.

Not a member, or just visiting a new city for a few days? Call ahead or check online to see if there’s a student discount, or if the museum offers any admission-free or pay-as-you-wish days.

7. Aquarium

Doctors’ offices often have fish tanks for a reason. Watching little fish (or very big fish) make their way through a tank of water is incredibly calming. With a hurried freelance life, being able to work for a few hours in a calming and peaceful environment is a great way to get some work done. Pro Tip: Aim for late afternoon, after field-trip time.

Call ahead or check online to see if there’s a student discount, or if the aquarium offers any admission-free or pay-as-you-wish days. Also, see if you can score an inexpensive annual membership if you plan on stopping by often.

8. Shopping Mall

Head over to your local mall and whip out your laptop for a change of scenery. Find a nice bench or cushy seat or head to the food court to set up shop at a table. Some malls, including the Mall of America, even offer free WiFi.

9. Anywhere! (At least, in cities with free WiFi)

Is free, public, city-wide WiFi a freelancer’s dream come true? Some cities, such as Perth, Paris, and Tel Aviv have implemented municipal WiFi in core downtown areas.

This means you can connect to WiFi just about anywhere within these areas, giving you the freedom to roam and stay connected or find a nice little corner bench to get a little work done without maxing out your data plan. Of course, be sure to check connectivity and be mindful of security on such a public WiFi system.

10. Bus or train station

Watch passengers come and go as you grab a seat in a bus or train station to catch up on some work. Many offer free WiFi, but don’t get too distracted by the top-notch people watching.

11. Friend’s house

A change of scenery can be very refreshing, so why not head over to a fellow freelancer’s pad to work? Bring a treat or lunch to share and designate time for chatting and catching up when you can both take a break. Next time your friend needs a change of scenery, inviting them over to your place could help you both be a bit more productive.

12. Botanical gardens

Spending time in nature is proven to boost creativity. Settle into a botanical garden and get some work done while taking time to get some exercise and (literally) smell some flowers. If you hate cold winter weather, an indoor garden can be the perfect place to find a taste of spring.

13. On a boat or ferry

Head out onto the open water to work. Many cities, such as San Francisco and New York, offer commuter ferries, and many commuter-type watercraft have plenty of benches or tables. Washington State even offers paid WiFi service on its ferries.

14. On a train

Trains are one of the most romantic places to work. Amtrak even offered a writing residency this year where writers could work on their creative projects while riding its trains throughout the country. Many Amtrak trains offer seating with tables, work space, and even outlets to keep your electronics charged as you travel.

15. From your camper van

Equip your camper van with a table and way to charge your devices, and you have a mobile office you can take anywhere. Go camping or just drive it to a local park to enjoy a comfortable and inviting mobile work space.

16. By the pool

While beaches are not ideal places to work, pools make much better places for freelancers to get some sun and catch up on work. Be sure to stay far enough away from the water to dodge errant splashes, and secure your valuables if you jump in for a dip. And before you head outside, plan for dealing with the sun’s glare on your laptop.

17. Zoo

Dr. Seuss found a lot of his inspiration at the local zoo. Consider heading to your zoo to find a quiet spot to appreciate the animals, inspire your creativity and get some work done. Call ahead or check online to see if there are any admission discounts.

18. Local universities

Colleges and universities are set up for learning and studying, and every campus has more than a few hidden gems when it comes to work space. Head to the library or a quiet hall to find a bit of space to work, and you’ll often find free WiFi.

19. International coworking spaces

While the U.S. offers an abundance of coworking options, you can also find some great places to work overseas. Hubud is just one example of a popular international coworking space. Located in Ubud, Bali, this space offers digital nomads and dreamers a place to connect and get down to business. Prices vary, but Hubud rates start at $60 per month for 25 hours of desk time, up through $275 per month for unlimited access.

20. A castle

Who wouldn’t want to work in a castle? If you happen to live nearby one of the United States’ castles, from California’s Hearst Castle to Belvedere Castle in New York City’s Central Park, head on over and see if you can get some work done. Call ahead or check online to see if there’s an admission fee and if certain days have discounts.

21. Client’s office

Face time is always good for business, so why not see if you can snag a corner of a table or an open desk in one of your client’s offices? Be sure to ask, and expect to focus on that company’s work while you’re there. But spending time right by a client can be a great way to keep you in the forefront of their mind the next time a big project comes up.

22. Your “she shed” or “man cave”

Find a little personal space in your backyard and create a “she shed” or “man cave.” These special retreats can be fun to design and provide a personal place for you to create. For more inspiration, check out YA novelist Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing cottage.

Your turn, writers: where do you go to be inspired or productive when you can’t get anything done at home?

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Kristen Pope is a Jackson Hole, Wyoming based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Discover, Backpacker, Western Confluence, International Journal of Wilderness, and Planning Magazine, and she is the managing editor of JHStyle Magazine.... .

Kristen Pope | @Kristen_E_Pope

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Comments

  1. Such creative suggestions! I gravitate towards numbers 1, 2, 18, and 6. Museums are probably my favorite. Museum membership sometimes gives you access to a Members Only room (like at the Art Institute of Chicago), where the setting is perfectly refreshing and inspiring for writers. Number 14 sounds amazing! That’s setting I’ll add to my “places to write bucket list.”

    Thanks for this post!

  2. A very wonderful post Kristen,
    The beauty of internet marketing and blogging is that it is location independent and if you ask some people, you will discover that that is actually their major reason of doing it and i also love it.

    All the places you mentioned here can really be very fun to work at but, its also good to ensure that wherever you choose is very secured, conducive and trouble free so that you and your computer will be safe.

    • Hi Theodore-My name is Rotouel. I am trying to get into the freelane writing industry.The problem is that I don’t know where to start. I love to write! I have a song that I wrote,as well as two spoken word poem videos on youtube.I have an active blog as well…any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  3. I’ve been wishing I had a co-working space in my small town. I’ve worked from the library and at our local coffee shop before, but never thought of them as “co-working spaces” even though they kind of are. Great ideas!

  4. I like these ideas.
    I wish there were lists like this for freelancers with babies at home. (Maybe I should write one?)

  5. A great list. I wish I could write in fun places, but I tend to get distracted. I really wanted to do some work while at Disney World with my family, but that didn’t happen. Ah well. I’ll have to stick with the coffee shop and home. Thanks for the list!

  6. j.wolf bailey says:

    Hello Mr Pope,
    When I saw where, I am assuming, you live, Jackson Hole, Wy. I can not even coptehend going any where else in the world you would want to escape to. You are indeed a lucky man
    J.Wolf Bailey
    The Business & Nonprofit Edge
    Content & Blogging Service

  7. I take advantage of the free hotel room offered by my favorite casino for quiet time away from the distraction of my furry “children”. I also like to sit in the lobby and people watch as I write. Their reactions to wins and losses on the machines can often be included in a scene of my novels.

    I will also go outside where I have an old couch and recline it and star watch as I write. One advantage of country living is not having any street lights to obscure the view of the night sky. Pajamas and barn boots are considered suitable at home wear any time of the day or night when one has animals.

  8. Hey those are cool places,
    However I found, if one places oneself in a slightly stressful location, the need to get the hell out becomes a motivator in itself. I also found that he noise factor helps with the concentration, these places also give one a true feeling of pace to your writing.
    so placers like;-

    • the toilet, in a crowded airport waiting room with a suspicious looking bag in the next cubical
    • a police station , when they are bringing in the suspects of a drug raid
    • a Ernesto “Che” Guevara rally in La Higuera, Bolivia with participants shouting ‘Silence is argument carried out by other means.’
    • An outlaw Comanchero Motorcycle Club rally after midnight in a local downtown pub.
    • this one I like the best is in a lighthouse during a cyclone warning
    • this ones good too the control tower at Heathrow or JFK

  9. I get so bored working from home. The coffee shop is usually too crowded and the library won’t let us bring in drinks. Sometimes I’ll sit at a nice Italian restaurant after the lunch rush is gone. But several years ago when my kids were young and I was broke, I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel in McDonald’s. Free refills. Free babysitting.

    • So true, Vicky! (Plus, I hate the smell of coffee, and can’t smell the chai a coffee-shop serves over it.) We have a Chick-fil-A here that opens at 6:30 am for breakfast, and I have a regular breakfast routine there. The restaurant has a “power wall” with plenty of outlets—there is a junior college across the street—and free WiFi, plus free refills on tea and soda, makes it ideal. I sit at a tiny table tucked in a corner, and work for several hours every morning, or just chat with random folks while I munch my chicken biscuit or my bagel.

  10. Nice post Pope.
    Allow me to add that what works in the US may not work in other regions. Endless refills are impossible to imagine in Paris cafes where even sachets of sugar are rationed out. 🙂 In America, you could find quaint corners in public libraries with free wifi or university park benches to surf and write your biography. But here in Malaysia it is difficult. Most apartment buildings have pool areas where the building management offers free wifi. You may have to ask the security for a password. Usually deserted in the afternoons, its a spot with least distraction.
    Food courts in malls are deserted post breakfast or lunch hours and you may even get free wifi. So are local mamaks (cafe / restaurants) liberally dotting every street where you could work on your story (without wifi) with just a teh tariq (sweet tea with milk for 25 cents). You may get some intriguing looks but most people are too polite.
    Kalil makes a remarkable observation. Writing becomes more vivid when under pressure of time (airport lounges) or money (like the expensive cafes in Petronas towers or the Pavilion mall).

  11. Great list of ideas to break writers out of the doldrums. I think I will use a few of them this week. I keep forgetting about my back porch, but when I use it as a work place, I enjoy it very much.

  12. Great list. I like a really nice hotel lobby.

  13. Wine farms or boutiques are a great place to read or write or do both! Especially when you can sit outside on a fine summer’s day and soak up the good weather. It can be very peaceful on a wine farm, while in-season gives you a chance to people-watch!

  14. Awesome. I’m going to bookmark this for the next time I get a creative block! My favorite is the public park or anywhere outdoors, where I can really connect with the earth and my surroundings… letting go of the day-to-day task list in my head. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I plan to check out the chapel in the local hospital. As I am working on a devotional thought that might work for me. The hospital lobby also has comfy chairs and projects outdoors scenes on one wall. Very peaceful. One of my favorite spots was a Chinese buffet where I could hear the responses to the fortune cookie message in the surrounding booths.

  16. Diana Marie Molino says:

    A good idea is to set up a card table in any available space in your home.
    I have mine set up between the kitchen and dining area. I can watch or just listen to my television set. I put on old dvd’s and draw or write. I have to concentrate more on what I am doing when I have the television on. I use the morning’s energy to write my spiritual book. I tend to run down in the afternoons. I also write at my dining room table after having cleared it off and cleaned it.

  17. Juanita Ellingson says:

    Those were fantastic suggestions, love and use our small town library, and local coffee shops. I never thought of heading to the zoo or the gardens, I would have to travel to Calgary to do so but its worth the trip. Thanks.

  18. Hi Kristen,

    Another great article from you!

    When creative juices aren’t flowing at home, I head over to a Hotel Lobby where the net is fast 🙂

    I’ve also tried working in my friend’s house with a fantastic view of the city 🙂

    Will be on the look out for your other articles!

  19. I’m in the process of writing my first novel, and I’ve discovered that my office at home isn’t ideal (we homeschool our three kids and they are right outside the door). I tried the local library for a while, but there was always competition for the two small study rooms. The rest of the library has kids running wild. The suggestion for the local college is great! We have a large community college a few mile away. Lots of free parking, and inside lots of places to grab a desk and write for a while. Bonus of the community college is that it has lots of older folks now taking classes, so I blend right in, and nobody things it odd that I’m sitting at a corner table on the laptop everyday.

Trackbacks

  1. […] 22 Places to Write When You’re Tired of Working at Home […]

  2. […] shred of a social life. At the very least, even if being social isn’t quite your thing, there are plenty of places to write that don’t involve sitting in the confines of your home. Getting outside might be the first step […]

  3. […] of a social life. At the very least, even if being social isn’t quite your thing, there are plenty of places to write that don’t involve sitting in the confines of your home. Getting outside might be the first […]

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