A space to write is just as important as writing tools for a writer. Everything around you affects how you think and therefore how you write. Inspiration can come from everywhere around us and is sometimes found in the most unexpected of places. It’s been said that writers should always have a room of their own, which is certainly true, but sometimes a room doesn’t have to be a room at all. Writers, such as myself, often find desks to be confining. Ernest Hemingway made constant references to the European cafes in which he wrote in his novel The Sun Also Rises. His friend and fellow author F. Scott Fitzgerald was known for this as well. As it turns out, there were plenty of other writers who felt the same way.
The Elephant House
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“It’s no secret that the best place to write is in a cafe” J.K. Rowling once said. Rowling should know. The UK city of Edinburgh is home to The Elephant House, a gourmet tea and coffee shop. This charming little venue is known for being the “birthplace of Harry Potter,” and indeed, Rowling did do quite a bit of her work on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone there before becoming famous. Since then, the venue has become something of a shrine to the Harry Potter series, displaying photos and other various artifacts from Rowling’s days there.
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Any fans of the Beat Generation will be familiar with San Francisco’s Vesuvio Cafe. A two-story cafe and bar, this venue opened it’s doors in 1948. In the years that followed, it would become a watering hole for Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, and plenty of other noteworthy beat generation figures. To make it even more convenient, it’s located just across the street from City Lights Bookstore, providing a great excuse to take a reading break from whatever you’re working on.
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Novelists aren’t the only types of writers who love artsy coffee shops and cafes, though. Renowned screenwriter Scott Neustadter is known for frequenting Intelligentsia Coffee, a popular venue in beautiful Venice Beach, California. Neustadter is perhaps best known for writing the hit independent film 500 Days of Summer, which he wrote primarily at his favorite coffee shop. His work done there, though, also includes the adaptations of several John Green novels, including Paper Towns and the not-yet-released Looking for Alaska. Neustadter claims to have written the script for the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars at Intelligentsia in only three days. He loves the busy environment and claims to do his best work there. It seems that there are plenty of other screenwriters who feel the same way.
The Chelsea Hotel
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Of course, it seems that many writers prefer to work in a quieter space. Maya Angelou did most of her writing from hotel rooms. She was so determined to focus on her work that she would request that all artwork be removed from the walls before checking in. Her only tools typically consisted of notepads and pens, a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a bible, unless you count Sherry and cigarettes as tools for writing. Plenty of authors would. The Chelsea Hotel of New York city was a popular venue to Angelou, as well as many other writers.
A Model T Ford
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Some writers sought to find a strange mix of both secluded and public settings in which to do their writing. For Gertrude Stein, this proved to be her car, known as the “Lady Godiva”. Never a fan of shopping trips, Stein would often stay in her Model T Ford and write while her partner shopped. These constant trips around Paris proved to be very productive for her. It’s been said that Stein found inspiration for her prose in the pattern of the traffic she heard around her.
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