Monday, August 25, 2014

The Write Spot: A Survey of NYC’s Best Writing Havens

A recent listicle on the best places to read in New York got us thinking that it would be nice to have a similarly handy guide to the best places to write. Luckily for us, we know a few wordsmiths or two to consult. So we polled our network to find out their favorite fortresses of scribbling solitude.

Here’s a quick travelogue of the top nominees, which we hope will be useful to New York vets and occasional visitors alike. (P.S. Stay tuned this fall for guides to other cities.)

The Writers Room

One of the most popular answers was The Writers Room, a membership-based space created specifically for writers. Located at Astor Place and Broadway, The Writers Room has 42 partitioned desks, a writers’ reference and research library, Internet access, a kitchen/lounge, and panoramic views for inspiration. At the end of every year the covers of all the books published by members are reproduced on a celebratory cake!

Find out more about TWR here. (

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

GG friends Thomas Cook and Carla Jablonski visit the Met when they need to work. Tom visits an exhibit, and then heads to the cafeteria to work (just make sure you avoid the lunch rush). Carla likes to find an exhibit that relates to what she’s working on: “I wrote my adaptation of the Bacchae among the Ancient Greek statues, my master's thesis on 19th Century Circus in several 19th Century Paintings rooms, and a book partially set in ancient Egypt sitting beside the Temple of Dendur!”

Libraries Big and Small

Michael Laser recommends the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library at 40 West 20th Street. “They welcomed me, although I'm not blind, and I was able to write my novel there. Quieter than any cafe, and more peaceful than most other libraries. I miss it.”

Several of our other colleagues – including Michele Hollow, Thomas Cook, and Paul Marks found peace and quiet under the watchful eyes of the librarians at the the NYPL’s fabled Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street (don’t mind the tourists).

The Science, Industry and Business Library is a formula for inspiration for David Kronfeld -- a quiet, clean, convenient branch of the NYPL. Located at 188 Madison Avenue, the building is large and well outfitted with carrels and wi-fi.

Allan Leicht’s office away is the Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. It’s the seating as much as the setting, Leicht reports: “It is the only library I know of that has Herman Miller adjustable mesh chairs rather than wooden or plastic. As writers know, the chair is the second most important writing tool, second only to the nap.”

Odds And Really Odds

Josh Nanberg, who does his best work when there’s a buzz around him, visits the Ace Hotel lobby. “Also, they have great coffee,” he adds. “And - for when I'm done - a killer Old Fashioned.

If you need your caffeine fix while writing, Amy Klein recommends the Aroma espresso bar on West 72nd and Broadway. “Great food, free wi-fi, outdoor space and outlets.” They also have locations in Midtown and SoHo.

Lisa Schiffren writes at home, but walks through her words while walking her dog in Palisade Park in Riverdale, along the Hudson.

And the winner for the most unorthodox nominee came from Francis Levy, who said the best place to write in peace was in a coffin show room “in the basement of a prominent NYC funeral parlor.” Words to live by, indeed.

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