When I began this freelance writing caper, I had a lot of unrealistic expectations. Most notable include:
- I would write for eight plus hours a day. Every day.
- I would find it quite easy to write a book. Effortless, even!
- I would NEVER waste time during the day doing things like watching Schitt’s Creek, scrolling cute animal feeds on Reddit, or teaching myself sewing machines repair.
- I would become one of those elusive coffee shop writers, working on my masterpiece as I sip espresso, preferably wearing a scarf or beret.
Yeah…so some of those didn’t pan out. However, I did get the coffee shop one right, even though I’m not a scarf person and I don’t own a beret.
Working from home can be a lonely, monotonous pursuit. The procrastination fairy is always there to chide you about the cleanliness of your bathtub and the organizational state of your Tupperware lids. When she comes a-buzzin’, that’s when I know I need to realign my focus. The best way for me to do that is to get out of the house to a coffee shop. It’s where I can buckle down, eliminate household distractions, and knock out my daily goals. Also eat treats.
Here are my go-to places to work around town (mainly East Nashville), listed in order from mediocre to fab. Note: I can’t eat gluten and too much dairy makes my sinuses explode, so some of my recommendations are biased to those needs.
This is a stable, reliable place, but not one of my regular haunts. I can’t say exactly why, other than the parking isn’t ideal and sometimes the people playing board games in the back are loud. This one is big with tourists staying around the Five Points area; so if packs of hungover bachelorettes aren’t your thing, be warned.
- Coffee: Good. Try the Gray Skies latte.
- Parking: Challenging. There’s 3 spots in the front or free 90 minute parking in the nearby lot. But what if I’m inspired and want to write for longer?
- Service: Fine
- Music: I haven’t ever noticed it, which is a good sign.
- Bonus points: They sponsor a lot of non-profits and community events.
This place gets points for creative use of space, but it’s not my first choice for an afternoon out. Housed in a former bank, I’m told the ice cream here is stellar, but I find the seating a bit uncomfortable and the music is sometimes too loud. Their $0.99 tiny pots of chocolate-covered espresso beans are genius though, if you want a little treat.
- Coffee: Strong
- Parking: Easy. The parking lot is usually not full.
- Service: Not the friendliest ever, but acceptable.
- Music: Good, if you sit away from the speakers.
- Bonus points: You can watch ice cream being made through the original bank teller windows.
Great for takin’ care of business. I wasn’t a fan of this place initially, but it’s grown on me. During my first visit, hip-hop was blasting from the speakers, which I find distracting, and I had the unfortunate luck of sitting under a leaking air conditioner vent. However, subsequent visits have made this place a go-to on weekends when my regular joints are filled with the brunching crowd. They also have single seats so you don’t feel guilty about hogging a large table for you and the friends that live in your computer.
- Coffee: Good, but the coconut milk is almost sickly sweet.
- Parking: Easy, lot in the back
- Service: Very friendly. And there’s a discount for locals!
- Music: Depends on the day
- Bonus points: Connected to The Bookshop (oh, my poor wallet)
Lovely, feminine space that isn’t too girly or frou-frou. Get here early if you want to work, because it fills up fast during lunch. The seating is comfortable, the lighting is bright, and the staff are a delight. They also do an afternoon tea service (GF available), which is a lot of fun.
- Coffee: Fantastic! Their coconut milk latte is the best in town. Foamy, with a slight toasted marshmallow flavor.
- Parking: Good, there’s a decent sized lot and some street parking.
- Service: Very friendly
- Music: Quiet, barely noticeable
- Bonus points: Purchases support Thistle Farms’ work which empowers and employs women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. They also sell their body products in the attached gift shop.
Simply adorable. Located in an old fast food joint, I didn’t have high hopes for this one when I stopped after running errands in the area. But I was pleasantly surprised at how homey it was, and charmed by the light Harry Potter nods. Seating is limited, which has caused me to walk in and walk out again at least twice. But if you manage to grab a seat, this one’s a keeper (see what I did there?).
- Coffee: Good. They even have a butterbeer latte!
- Parking: Challenging. They have a parking lot, but it’s usually full.
- Service: Very friendly
- Music: Depends on the day
- Bonus points: Subtle Harry Potter themes! They also have a “Shot of Grace” board where you can buy a coffee for someone that needs it such as a new mom, someone having a bad day, a college student etc.
Oh, The Post. How many fictional jams and creative roadblocks have I gotten myself out of here? This is my #1 go-to place for writing, even though the prices do not suit my bohemian lifestyle. I love the cozy vibe, the bounty of gluten free options, and the rotating selection of art on the walls. I’m a bit hurt that no one remembers my name even though I’m a regular, but their gluten free biscuits make up for it.
- Coffee: Good, try the lavender latte.
- Parking: Easy. Street or tiny lot.
- Service: East Nashville friendly (polite, but not chummy)
- Music: Eclectic. I got a lot done during an 80’s New Wave playlist once.
- Bonus points: Best gluten free biscuits in America.
I’ve also found my away-from-home work time goes better if I have two things: a goal to work toward, like specific scene or project, plus a minimum time limit. So what gems have I missed? Got any recommendations for places to boost productivity?