Where to Live as a Writer
Real writers live in New York City—that’s just what you do, right? Well, maybe, and maybe not. Are you are a SEO content writer or a fiction writer with visionary dreams of attending red carpet events celebrating your story’s adaptation to the silver screen? The answer to that question can leave you lingering where you live, or be the momentum you need to move. Before you scour Craigslist for roommates or spare rooms, spend a moment considering where you should live as a writer.
Stickler for Tradition
If you insist on getting your work published the old fashioned way, you know—with an agent and in-house editor and publisher—then by all means get thyself to the Big Apple. New York City is the Publishing Capital of the Universe as it is the location of offices for each of the Big Six in publishing:
- Hatchett Book Company
- Penguin Group
- Random House
- Simon & Schuster
Anyone with a wish to get a million dollar book deal will want to be as close to the action as possible. In such a case, the best place to live is New York City. Additionally, if you choose NYC consider the following haunts:
- Greenwich Village, where Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, O. Henry, Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac (along with the entire Beatnik crew) created words of wisdom
- Harlem, where Langston Hughes thrived
- Washington Square Park and its surrounding neighborhood, home to Louise May Alcott and Willa Cather
Iowa is the mecca for writers looking to escape the daily grind. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa has been the pushing off point for many a great writer including John Irving, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Milwaukee poet laureate Antler, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Justin Cronin, just to name a very few. If you don’t have two years to sacrifice for life in Iowa City, opt for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Rather than move to the Midwest, you can take a week or even a weekend off in order to mix and mingle with fellow creatives for an intensive creative writing experience.
If you are considering the self-publishing route as an indie author, or you can only manage a weekend or two in Iowa due to financial, family or personal reasons, don’t give up the pen just yet. Simply stay where you are. Of course, I would recommend a regular regime of vacations outside of your comfort zone in order to experience life and therefore enrich your creative pool of thoughts. However, you can make a great life as a writer whether you are in Bangor, Maine, ahem, where Stephen King hides out, or writing out of a tool shed as did Roald Dahl, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, and Dylan Thomas. Additionally having the ability to write for a living from anywhere you have Internet access helps, a lot. Here are the basic requirements:
- Maintain affordable living so you can spend more time being creative and less time on the grind.
- Surround yourself by a supportive community and/or family for moral support when the proverbial pen runs out of ink.
- Have the chance to engage in extracurricular activities that include exercise and community involvement. A great writer needs a sea of real life characters and settings to sift through in order to make the creative process, dare I say, easier.
If you have these things and you live anywhere from an isolated town in South Dakota population 13, or the hidden hills of the Appalachian Mountains, you can make it work as a writer. Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award winning fiction writer Ben Fountain said it best: “The main thing about writing is…writing. Sitting your butt down in the chair and doing the work.”
Miranda B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.