If you’re reading this right now, you may well be suffering from cabin fever after working from home for upwards of a year. We’ve all felt the restlessness that comes with independent remote working at some point, especially as writer—whether you’re an author self-publishing your book, a student in online school, or a professional working almost any desk job.
Fortunately, sometimes all it takes is a change in scenery to rekindle your creativity and productivity! We all know the feeling, and I’ve got your back; I’m here to share some of my favorite writing spots in hopes that they’ll help you switch things up and get back on that productivity train.
1. Museum: Visiting museums is hands-down one of my favorite activities, and you can find a museum to inspire almost any kind of writing. Fancy writing about the prehistoric ages, or about people living in the jungle? Try a museum of natural history. Or maybe you’re a fan of historical fiction and want to write about knights and squires—what better way to start writing than settling down in a preserved castle with your pen, paper, and the stone walls surrounding you?
If you already have a genre or story in mind, try to pick a museum that aligns with your whims. And if you don’t have an idea in mind—or if you write mostly professional content that has little to do with imagining a different world—you can just pick any museum café and enjoy the atmosphere around you. Whatever your writing needs, a museum is an ideal place to start!
2. Bookshop: Almost all writers love bookstores, but have you ever thought about writing in one? Consider the following three ways that bookshops can inspire you, with the first being (you guessed it!) the plethora of literature around you. If you’re feeling dull and uninspired, crack open a book. Even just reading for an hour is better than staring at a blank page.
The second is the people you find inside: observing what books they tend to choose (especially if you’re looking for a new, popular genre to try your hand at), or seeking out fellow writers to pick their brains. Whether you actually strike up a conversation or not, these encounters can help you understand different perspectives and maybe spark something new in your work.
The third source of inspiration is wider people-watching—and this doesn’t have to be limited to the bookshop itself! For example, the city where I live has a bookstore with two floors, and on the second floor there’s some desk space right next to a window looking out onto the city below. Being able to watch the world go by is not only inspiring, but often quite soothing, which can lessen your inhibitions for writing. Why not try it for yourself?
3. Train station: It’s not unusual to see people with a notepad or typing away at the train station (railfans, anyone?), so it should come as no surprise that this is a great writing spot. However, where you should sit in the train station depends on your atmospheric preferences.
Do you work best with sounds of people and rhythmic flow of machinery in the background? If so, you might enjoy settling in on a bench with pen and paper (or laptop) at the train station—or hopping on a cheap train to take advantage of the buzzy ambience and ever-changing scenery!
However, if a less-bustling setting with a cup of coffee in hand is more your thing, most train stations have coffee shops too. That way, you can still watch the trains and the shifting crowds outside, but from the comfort of a warm shop with a steady supply of caffeine.
4. Campsite: In a perfect world, we writers would be able to travel to anywhere that might inspire us. However, one affordable alternative is camping—great for tapping into a slightly otherworldly muse! As long as you’ve got a tent (or can borrow one) and a place to pitch for the night, you’re sorted. Waking up to the smell of morning dew and leaves on the ground is enough to get anyone waxing poetic; imagine what you can do with your notepad at hand.
Camping is also great for writing because it encourages you to stop running around and just be. Combine that Zen mindset with the absence of the internet and you’ll find yourself writing more in no time. Whenever you’re waiting for something like your water to heat or for a rainstorm to pass, you should be jotting down whatever comes to mind. Who knows—you might even write a stellar short story about someone who goes on their own camping adventure!
5. Nature reserve: And if you don’t fancy staying overnight in the wild, see if there are any nature reserves near you. These rich areas of preserved and restored wildlife are peaceful and full of life all at once. Most have footpaths and benches on which you can take in the scenery to your heart’s content. For those who prefer a quiet work environment, this is the perfect place to run away from the everyday noise of the city or even the suburbs.
A nature reserve may require a strong interest in birds and wildlife to be able to appreciate the setting… but if you do enjoy it, especially if you’re writing about nature, it can be paradise. Just remember to respect the wildlife and the reserve rules when you’re there.
6. Park: One final outdoors suggestion: if even nature reserves are too far from civilization for you, try setting up on a bench or picnic table at your local park! You’ll still get that much-needed connection to nature, but you’ll be close to people as well for a lovely ambient balance. Having the constant hum of people going about their lives in the background can definitely be comforting—and maybe even a source of inspiration for your characters.
My personal favorite spot to write in the park is by the pond; it’s so uplifting to witness all the newborn ducklings and cygnets (or toddlers gleefully watching said hatchlings) and reflect on the ripples they cause in the water. Whether you absorb it consciously or not, the evocative environment of a nice park is sure to bolster your writing.
7. Art Gallery: Writing surrounded by great works of art should put you in a pretty creative mood, to say the least. Of course, what makes a work of art great is subjective—don’t set up in a room of Renaissance paintings if what really excites you is modern collage. There are suitable galleries for all types of art, so the only question is where to find one that you enjoy.
Remember also that art can inspire you in different ways. You may discover a series of paintings that match the “vibe” of your project—whether that’s gritty nonfiction or a dramatic romance—and find yourself eager to capture a similar sensation in words. Or maybe a single painting in the gallery unexpectedly catches your eye, and you use it as a jumping-off point for a new story, poem, or a previously unplanned scene in a bigger project. Just as art itself is totally subjective, so is your response to it; whatever you want to write will be valid and valuable.
8. Library: It’s another obvious one, but I couldn’t not include libraries in a list of best writing spots. In most cases, you’ll be able to find a place to sit and write that’s not too far from other brilliant books. Sometimes that’s inspiring enough—but a library is a treasure trove of information as well!
If you can’t find what you need via internet research, try looking for it in a book; you might be surprised what you’ll discover. Or simply take this chance to chat to a librarian, as talking with someone else who loves books can massively boost your motivation. Even fellow patrons can be helpful, though make sure you’re not bothering anyone who’s in search of quiet.
Another super-useful feature of libraries is their plethora of facilities like printers, conference and study rooms, computers, and of course, coffee and vending machines! If you’re hoping to buckle down and get some serious work done, the library could be your best bet.
9. Seaside: If no other writing spots have floated your boat so far, the seaside might put some wind in your sails. While I can’t recommend writing on the beach itself (because sand… sand on everything you love), it’s definitely worth visiting the coast if you have dunes (less sand, more grass), a pier, or a seaside café or two. That said, if you don’t mind shaking all the sand from your belongings, I certainly won’t stop you from writing on the beach!
You can set up and watch the beach, the water, or the people around you. As an added bonus, you’ll hear the sound of the waves coming in and out, which will put you in a meditative mood to foster your best work. Indeed, however you feel about sand, the sea is undoubtedly a powerful muse—and may give you the bolt of inspiration you need for your project.
10. Writing Classes: Finally, attending creative writing classes can be an amazing way to push yourself creatively. From writing exercises to critique exchanges with your peers, online classes to offline ones, you can surely find something that works for you.
And if you don’t mind putting yourself out there, you might meet like-minded individuals and build some strong friendships in such a course! Writing friends can really open up opportunities to write together or even take turns co-working at each other’s houses. Even besides the benefits of peer feedback, it’s a great way to achieve the change in scenery that we so often crave.
As you can see, there are plenty of places to settle down with your favorite writing tools and craft your story. You can try them all out on rotation or find that one special place that never fails to get your mind racing and your pen flying. Either way, I hope this list has helped, and I wish you best of luck with the exciting stories that you develop!
Savannah Cordova is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, she enjoys reading contemporary fiction, writing short stories, and trying her best to take her own craft advice.