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5 Places to Write In Los Angeles That Are Not Coffee Shops

5 Places to Write In Los Angeles That Are Not Coffee Shops

Picture of Frank Ashbery
Updated: 21 September 2016
You can’t afford another cup of coffee and you have a meeting at NBC in 48 hours. You need to write in public, Writer, because you desire the energy of the people. Occasionally we must step away from the seductress of sludge and step out into a new world. Plus, coffee can hurt your stomach. Here are five places to write in Los Angeles that are emphatically not coffeeshops.

Young Research Library UCLA

Here is a secret from the advice column of a shamefully proud and desperate writer squatter: college campuses are public. They often have free wi-fi and soaring monolithic architecture. UCLA’s Young Research Library has recently seen a wonderful overhaul. Walk in and you enter the picture of modern study space technology: shiny and glass, with straight lines bordering on Scandanavian, and filled with ‘pods’. Shaped like mutant Space Odyssey eggs, these pods function as spaces where little study groups naturally form. Everyone will think you’re either a grad student, a professor, homeless, or worst of all: an adjunct. Sit down, plug in your busted Lenovo Thinkpad you bought your first year of undergrad, and act like you still fit in despite your Obey shirt, gray flecks and torn stockings.

Young Research Library, 280 Charles E Young Dr N, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-825-4732


Los Angeles Central Library

Here is another rousing argument for downtown: the Los Angeles Central Library. Constructed in 1926 by architect Bertrand Grosvenor Goodhue, the Central Library, also known as ‘the Light of Learning’, is a big gaudy Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival building right underneath the shadows of the glass corporate skyscrapers. There are sphinxes, snakes, and celestial things scattered around the library’s exterior and Zoroaster, Socrates, Buddha, and Mohammed all make an appearance somewhere. Clearly, this is a house of futile learning. You may not like it, but you need this experience. And you need this public space. And remember, you can’t afford another thing. You have your choice of working amidst the bedrock of all knowledge: a dark corner in the bottom floor, Philosophy, or at the very peak of human creativity: Literature. Take your pick and don’t use the bathroom. Free wi-fi abounds.

Los Angeles Central Library, 4504 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323-234-9106


Griffith Park and Griffith Park Observatory

There are people in Los Angeles that have never been here. People that have been living in West Hollywood for years and call themselves writers. Or worse, screenwriters. The Griffith Park Observatory is not only one of the most beautiful buildings in Los Angeles, it also affords one of the most spectacularly dynamic views available in the city. Sit on a bench and look around for once in your life. Listen to birds chirping and squirrels running along the thin branches of the invasive Eucalyptus trees. Catch the atomic smoggy blaze of a sunset dispensed by yet another haze-fueled Friday night rush-hour. Notice the gradient in the sky. Write about it. There is no wifi here, but fear not! You need only the comfort of your pencil and the canvas of a bit of white paper. In truth of fact, all you need is your imagination. Come to the park, check out of the city, and let your mind soar. Then descend back to the concrete world and write another ten-minute treatment for your next volunteer run screenwriting workshop.

Griffith Park Observatory, 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213-473-0800

Grand Central Market

Angelino’s know that Downtown has been clawing its way out of the ninth circle for years now, and after much anxious speculation, consensus is it’s finally getting there. Grand Central Market is this story. Ten years ago the haven of crusty enraged bikers stumbling across Hill St. from the Redwood, today Grand Central Market boasts Eggslut, McConnell’s Ice Cream, and an actual oyster and wine bar. It’s also home to the best coffee in Los Angeles, Charles Babinski’s G&B, while remaining emphatically not a coffee shop. The whole space is equipped with free wi-fi and plenty of tabletops near the upper level, with sporadic outlets. While not quiet, we all know that writing is the perfect marriage of distraction and focus.

Grand Central Market, 317 Broadway, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Your Home Office

Remember when the phrase ‘Home Office’ still meant freedom? It was where you would work because it was a choice. Because you had cleared your desk, set out your various usage dictionaries, encyclopedias, screenwriting manuals, and scratch paper so that you used them. This was the first week after you graduated from undergrad. Then peculiar things started happening between you and your good old desk. The creaking. Or the feeling. Or the way your keyboard sat. Too cold. Too hot. No coffee. Too many distractions. Roommates. This is what got you writing in the café to begin with. Well, end those days. You don’t have any student loan money left and your roommates have all moved on to big clean apartments in Park La Brea having taken jobs in marketing, engineering, medicine, and finance. It’s time you reclaimed your space. Re-decorate. Re-design. This is where you live, after all. Remove yourself from the superficial distraction of 90 identical Macbook Pros and get in the zone like you used to. Finish the screenplay, writer. Your career has yet to begin, but the work is just getting started. Good job and good luck!


Frank Ashbery