November is National Novel Writing Month, when writing geeks and repressed English majors everywhere (such as this author) shut themselves in their houses and attempt to complete a novel in 30 days. Don’t tell us we’re crazy. We know who we are.
But fellow novelists know that eventually the comforts of your own desk/couch/bed become boring, and you’ll be tempted to write outside the home. The ideal environment is quiet, with an antisocial clientele who will respect your weirdness. The perfect joint has outlets at the tables. And the ideal place has damn good drinks. Of the caffeine variety, if you need energy, or of the alcoholic variety, if you take after Ernest Hemingway.
A short rant before we begin: The ideal novel-writing hangout would have no wifi, or terrible wifi. But the internetless business in Dallas is a dying breed. Nearly every place on this list has wireless internet, as do many things that really shouldn’t, like freaking public parks. If you leave your house for novel-writing, turn off your wireless adapter. Bonus: much better battery life!
We digress. Here are 10 places we recommend for getting your novel on.
The Wild Detectives
It’s a bookstore and a coffee shop and a bar. Could there be a better place to write your novel? Anytime you need inspiration, you can find it in the elegant bookshelves around you, or maybe in a cup of tea or a cocktail. Light snacks are handy, just in case. One potential downside: Writing while surrounded by the Dallas literati and their favorite books might require a lot of self-confidence. Also, when we told one English literature graduate about novel-writing at Wild Detectives, she said, “That’s a cliché.”
Boba House Bakery & Café
Bubble tea? Check. Korean dessert pastries? Check. Private seating in individual, tiny rooms? Check. Swinging saloon doors that make you think you’re in an old movie? Check. Boba House (also known as Tae Kook Dang) has nearly everything you need for a successful writing session. If it didn’t offer wireless internet, it would be perfect. But there’s red bean ice cream so all is forgiven.
The Wine Therapist
The name says it all. And this wine bar tends to be quieter than most on weeknights, with ultra-friendly staff who will let you sample just about anything. On weekend evenings there is live music, which you’ll want to avoid if you’re trying to get another chapter done.
Unofficial pick of many NaNoWriMo writers, in past years Buzzbrews has hosted group “write-ins” with as many as 20 people sitting together, in silence, writing. If nothing else, it’s kind of fun to watch such a large group of people ignoring each other. During breaks, you can ask your neighbors for advice, trade ideas or have them name your characters for you.
Upstairs at Central Market (Lovers Lane)
Around the corner from the cooking school are a few tables where you can write/lunch in peace. The biggest benefit here is the view out over the store, which offers some of the very best people-watching in Dallas. If you get writer’s block, maybe send your characters to a grocery and write about those weirdos you just spotted in aisle 7. Whole Foods is also a pretty satisfying place to work, along the same lines.
By day, Astoria is a coffee shop. By night, it’s a wine bar. But Astoria may not be the best place for daylong novel-writing, since the super comfy armchairs and couches are in the middle of the room, away from power outlets. This is the coffee shop of choice if you are one of those crazies who still writes by hand.
Like Astoria, Alcove does the coffee-by-day, wine-by-night trick, and like Astoria, it has some really comfy couches. If you’re in Uptown, you could probably get your novel on here for longer than anywhere else. Downside: The evening crowd at Alcove is too much fun for you to stay safely hidden behind a laptop.
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Any of The Ginger Man's locations
This is your best option if you want to escape your family on Thanksgiving and get some writing done. The Ginger Man is open on the holiday, and slinging beers all day. Why would I go out to a bar and write my novel on Thanksgiving Day, you might ask? Well, by November 26 you might be woefully behind schedule and in need of a few hours to bang out another 2,000 words. Or maybe you have a shitty family. Either way.
The cafe at the Dallas Museum of Art
Decorations by Chihuly, coffee and free admission to the art galleries. Those amenities make it worth the awkward lighting situation (find a spot in the back corner to avoid glare from the gigantic window).
The Public Library
We tend to forget just how awesome libraries are, don’t we? Sorry, librarians! Stop by your nearest branch and remember the quiet, mind-focusing workspaces that saved your life in college. The only downside here is for authors who need caffeine or liquid inspiration. When we called the Oak Cliff branch of the Dallas Public Library, a librarian told us it’s cool to bring bottled water, but the DPL Code of Conduct does say they can kick you out if the eating or drinking becomes disruptive. Feel free to shush people.