By: Guest Writer Natasha Guadalupe
“The best place to write is in your head”, Ernest Hemingway succinctly once said. As a writer living in New York City it’s a concept you practice by force.
Between the 400 square foot one bedroom apartments, if you’re lucky, multiple roommates, overcrowded trains, overpriced restaurants; full-time jobs or many small ones; you ultimately feel like all your laborious efforts are merely an attempt to not fall behind; not even taking into account the required time or energy for the development your true passion—writing.
One of the pitfalls on the road to becoming a committed and purposeful writer, I’ve often fell into the trap of feeling overwhelmed by the City with its wealth of opportunities. Knowing of their availability but not quite understanding how and where to attain them.
I did what a typical New Yorker would do in the event of having to engage with a stranger on a train, I stood my ground and made no actual eye contact; or better said, I remained typing away on my worn laptop, sipping my third cup of Starbucks tea wondering if I was alone in feeling this way.
It was only when I saw a random flyer advertising an open ‘mic’ night or spoke to a fellow writer about a free course at the Annex the truth pushed its ugly face forward. I was missing out on the things that are crucial to any writer’s life: connecting, learning and writing.
New York City is a hotbed continually producing world renown and influential writers; it is clear it’s the environment conducive to attaining resources to those who seek them out. So, over the last six months I decided to retool my artistic process strategy for better effectiveness. By doing so I’ve been able to meet inspirational people, find stimulating places write, share my work and participate in writing groups. Wondering how I manged to completely overhaul my situation?It was exceedingly simple; I gave myself time to actually see what was right in front of me.
Once I started looking for opportunities finding them became easier. One of the basics was realizing how the city itself has responded and augmented internet availability. Also, the advent of public seating in traditional and non-traditional spaces is a huge plus and a carry over from our current boon of telecommuting.
Schools, writing annexes and even libraries are offering free or low-cost writing courses. While businesses such as coffee shops and even museums have adapted their services by offering free Wi-Fi and creating writing friendly lounges and communal seating for cafe patrons.
Below I have listed various resources and outlets for all types of writers to find conducive spaces to write, free/ low-cost writing courses and networking outlets for you to connect with other writers, be they unpublished (like me) or published writers.
From one writer to another I will leave you with my own personal tip when trying to find time to write within the hustle and bustle of New York. What’s consistent in most urban large scale cities is you will always find yourself waiting for one thing or another; be it the train, a bus or a cab; standing in a grocery line or Post Office; waiting at the Motor Vehicle or for a movie to start—those are all opportunities to write or revise your work. Use a note pad, your smart phone writing application or voice recorder or even embed your words into an email, there is always time to write, even in New York.
- NY Writers Workshop
- NY Writers Coalition
- Academy of American Poets
- The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers
- Asian American’s Writers Workshops
- Bronx Council on the Arts
- PEN American Center
Who Needs an MFA When You Have Free or Inexpensive Workshops
- Gotham Writers Workshops
- 92nd Street Y
- The Afrikan Poetry Theatre, Inc.
- The Writers Studio
- Teen Ink’s NYC Summer Writing Program
- Free Programs (For under-represented groups)
New York Book & Literature Festivals
- The Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival
- Jackson Heights Poetry Festival
- New York Book Festival
- Brooklyn Book Festival
- New York Time Arts & Leisure Weekend
Places to Jam & Listen
- KGB Bar
- The Nuyorican Poets Café (Short for New York Puerto Rican)
- The Bowery Poetry Club
- The Creek
- Billy’s Black
- Follow on Twitter Open Mic NY
Yes, I said Meet In-Person! NYC Writers
When Membership Pays
- Author’s Guild (sliding scale based on your writing salary) Note: Once you are a member you receive invitations to panels and programs throughout the year. NETWORKING!!
- Writing Rooms (Rent 24hour accesses spaces to write by yourself or with others)
Ok, Maybe You Do Want To Get Your MFA
Need a Space to Write
Most of us have no choice but to write wherever and whenever we can. And should we be lucky enough to find a little free time and a secluded spot, life still has a habit of interfering. Now I’ve seen it all, desktop computers with full 22 inch monitors in a busy Starbucks, to textbooks, bags and papers laid out across small spaces alienating both customers and café owners. In the end, finding a good spot to write takes exploration, consideration, good etiquette and thinking outside of the box.
You should be looking for:
- Location (Near transportation)
- Service (Laid back with inexpensive but good food)
- Atmosphere (Ample lighting and good seating)
- Wi-Fi & Electrical Outlets
- Extended hours of operation
- Amount of Traffic: (You don’t want to take up space and potential revenue for long periods of time, so find the best places and times to go to a particular café to avoid these kinds of issues)
FREE (Wi-Fi & Seating)
- Poets House
- All NYC Libraries: Recommend: New York Public Library’s Schwartzman Building
- Parks: Highline, Bryant Park
- NYC Parks (With Free Wi-Fi)
- The David Rubenstein Atrium Lincoln Center
SPENDING $4-$6 For the Space, Outlet, and Wi-Fi
- Housing Works Bookstore/ Café (SOHO)
- Max Café (Near Columbia)
- Communitea (Queens)
- Panorama Cafe (Queens)
- Angelika Café
- Aroma Espresso Bar on Houston (corner of Greene) is nice. Good coffee. Free WIFI expect during peak hours. Often crowded, but open 24 hours.
- Blue Stockings Bookstore
- Starbucks (Sorry to say, it’s time and tested, unless they plugged up the outlets)
- Most Major Hotel Lobbies: (The key with this is to walk in like you belong. Again use good judgment when using the space. Most places do not mind visitors and use of their space, especially if they have a café inside (but be prepared to buy something if they do)
- New York Historical Society Library (State of the art library across from Central Park and Museum of Natural History)
- Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) (Great communal seating, A little expensive & Waiter service)
- All major Museums: Recommended *Metropolitan Museum of Art Atrium (Free WIFI but not outlets)
$400 and Up
- Writing Rooms (Rent space to write by yourself or with others)
General Hot Spots