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The Best American Cities for Writers (Hint: Not New York)

The Best American Cities for Writers (Hint:  Not New York)

The list below is the best cities for writers, according to me. Yes, it is an extremely biased list because I have lived in all of these places. That’s how I know they’re great cities for writers. Duh. I’m not going to endorse a city I’ve never lived in.  And if you don’t like my list, read someone else’s.

The Best American Cities for Writers (According to Me):

Seattle. Those months of rainy, dreary days make for perfect writing weather, and maybe you’ll go into a crazed, Kerouac-style writing spree while hopped up on great coffee. On sunny days, you can let yourself be inspired by the astounding nature all around: lush Northwest rainforests, the sparkling waters of Puget Sound, and Mt. Rainier perched in the clouds behind the city. The Hugo House (down the street from famous Elliot Bay bookstore) hosts writing classes, open mic nights, and literary events, and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference is a great place to pitch your manuscript to an agent.

Mt. Rainier inspires poetry.  At least for me it does.

Mt. Rainier inspires poetry. At least for me it does.

New Orleans. Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Anne Rice… The list of famous authors who have called New Orleans home is long and impressive. Besides its rich literary tradition, New Orleans is a great place to gather characters, settings, and stories, whether you’re wandering around under the dripping balconies of the French Quarter in a rum-soaked haze, or riding the streetcar uptown to where grand mansions mingle with tropical-colored shotgun cottages.  Plus, Mardi Gras is always only a few months away. The Tennessee Williams Literary Festival and the Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival happen every spring, and the Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball, hosted by Burlesque Press, is an annual event each New Years Eve.

Paul and Eva at the Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball in New Orleans.

Paul and Eva at the Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball in New Orleans.

Washington, DC Metro Area. Besides being home to AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs) and The Writer’s Center, DC is an intellectual town, chock full of writing groups and schools where you can study writing such as American University and George Mason. Riding the Metro gives you time to read, brainstorm ideas, or observe the wide variety that comprises human nature, and when you’re in the need for some culture to stimulate your writing, head to one of DC’s many museums, or check out a free daily performance at the Kennedy Center.

Our Nation's Capital ain't a bad place for a writer to be.

Our Nation’s Capital ain’t a bad place for a writer to be.

Minneapolis. Not only is the AWP 2015 Conference being held in Minneapolis, but the months of snowy, icy weather (temperatures like to stay below freezing for a good chunk of the year) will encourage you to stay inside, writing and drinking hot cocoa. When you do venture out, head to the Loft Literary Center, which hosts writing classes and literary events. And the Minneapolis Writers Workshop, established in 1937, meets each Wednesday, providing all authors a free place to give and receive feedback. If you write for children or young adults, the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators (SCWBI) is supposed to be one of the best.

View of the Mississippi from my downtown Minneapolis apartment.

View of the Mississippi from my downtown Minneapolis apartment.

Richmond, VA. If you’re into writing historical fiction, Richmond is the place to be. There are Civil War reenactments going on constantly, and Patrick Henry gives his famous speech at the historic St. John’s Church on a regular basis. Not far away, you’ve got Colonial Williamsburg, a recreated colonial city, as well as the College of William and Mary, the alma mater of both myself and Thomas Jefferson. If history’s not your thing, let art or nature spark your creative engines. Richmond’s got plenty of both, including urban hiking trails, downtown art galleries (check out Gallery 5 in a converted fire station), and my personal favorite: the pipeline trail that takes you past a heron rookery and all the way to Brown’s Island where bands play on weekend nights in the summer. The James River Writers host a conference every fall, and nearby, in Virginia Beach, you can attend the Hampton Roads Writers Conference.

Richmond, VA. photo by Deven Langston

Cape Cod, MA. After Labor Day, the tourists start to head home, and after Thanksgiving the shops that haven’t closed yet pack it up and hibernate until spring. Cape Cod turns into a cold, quiet ghost town. Depressing? Maybe. But it’s a great place to get some writing done! The weather outside is foggy, and it’s the kind of damp cold that just won’t quit, so you’ll be motivated to stay inside and keep warm by the light of your laptop. When the weather warms up, get inspired by the beaches and bays and marshes and stunning sunsets. The Cape Cod Writers Center hosts literary events, classes, and writing groups, and Cape Cod is home to hundreds of artists and writers, especially those of the retired variety.  Visit playwright, author, and illustrator Edward Gorey’s house for a little gothic whimsy, or drive to nearby Boston, where Grub Street provides writing classes and literary events.

Eva in Cape Cod

Eva in Cape Cod

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About evalangston

Eva Langston is a writer, among other things.

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