L.A. is overflowing with writers. To be honest, we probably have too many. For many writers, the classic workplace — the coffee shop — is not the most productive environment (the noise, the people, the fact they might play something like the Postal Service on their stereo). Neither is working from home, with its possible distractions ad infinitum. But there are plenty of other options out there that are free and worth exploring for those restless to spill some ink, if that's still a thing people say.
The main driving force behind L.A.’s popularity has always been space and weather. And while the question of how dense L.A. should be is raging — along with interminable summer heat waves — we still have more space and fairer weather than many other big cities. But many Angelenos choose not to exploit our public spaces and that’s fine. More for everyone else.
Here we've compiled a list of spaces writers seem to love. An effort was made — for the most part — to avoid places where your seat is not contingent on ordering food or drinks (read: no coffee shops and restaurants). We also chose some places that don’t offer Wifi because, for many writers, Wifi is the ultimate distraction. Hell, some writers even still use longhand. And why not?
1. Los Angeles Central Library
The downtown maze of a library — in addition to being one of the country’s largest libraries per size of collection — also boasts some intricate Mediterranean and Egyptian inspired architecture, for all the art history heads out there. Opened in 1926, the place is riddled with mosaics, murals and other curious accents throughout, and is one of DTLA’s historic monuments. However, it wasn't that long ago the ancient structure suffered a disastrous fire in 1986 and remained closed until 1993. Come to write or browse through its endless stacks. It's open seven days a week.
630 W. Fifth St., downtown. lapl.org/branches/central-library.
2. Doheny Library at USC
Doheny is perhaps USC’s most beautiful library. Completed in 1932, it represents another classic building from one of L.A.’s most fertile building periods, the early ‘20s through the early ‘30s. Located in the middle of campus, it's usually a long hike to and from parking and transit stops, but inside campus it's a nice quiet oasis. Though much of USC’s campus and surrounding blocks have undergone a recent facelift, Doheny is likely to stay the way it is for a while. It also houses the Music and Cinema Television-Library and is open seven days a week.
3550 Trousdale Pkwy., University Park. libraries.usc.edu/locations/doheny-memorial-library.
3. The Original Farmers Market
The Original Farmers Market has long been a magnet for screenwriters in particular, likely ever since it opened in 1934, making it one of L.A.’s longest running anythings. It's centrally located and its cavernous food court area offers ample seating during the week, all manner of food (some good, some extremely overpriced) and drink (including the hard ones). I know I said up top we’d try to avoid typical commercial environments, but this is a place where you can go, buy nothing and not feel like you’re stepping on anyone’s toes. Also, it often hosts screenwriter meetups — both organized and not. Obviously, this is a space for those who prefer more stimulation and people milling about. And it's got free Wifi.
6333 W. Third St., Fairfax. farmersmarketla.com.
4. Griffith Park
Griffith Park is a huge part of what makes L.A. great and just a huge physical part of L.A. period. Its 4,000-plus acres offer all manner of leisure (abandoned zoo, functioning zoo, hiking, tennis, golf, horse riding, and on and on), but it’s also a place you can get work done, provided you brought a backup power cell or don’t need electricity. Whether it’s sitting on a blanket by the historic Griffith Observatory, on a bench near the merry-go-round that Walt Disney used to sit and get inspired by, or on a blanket in earshot of the Greek Theater, there are so many places to make your own here and read, write or meditate. See also: Pan Pacific, Barnsdall, Elysian — basically any park will do.
4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Griffith Park. laparks.org/griffithpark.
5. The Americana at Brand
For those who appreciate the discography of Michael Bublé, overpriced macaroons and Bellagio-lite fountain shows, look no further than the Jewel City’s finest monument to commercialism and over-designed quaintness. But, if you let it, the Americana can be a relaxing place to get some writing done, especially during the week. Plus you get the glory of La Tour Eiffel on the parking lot roof. And, again, free Wifi. See also (of course) its sister mall-cum-faux-European-city The Grove.
889 Americana Way, suite 330, Glendale. americanaatbrand.com.
6. Young Research Library at UCLA
This recently remodeled modernist library is a great place to get some words down on paper if you’re on the Westside. Like other libraries on this list, anyone is allowed to use this space. And it’s often open as late as 11 p.m. (later than most of the places and all the libraries on this list) for the night crawlers out there. Plus, it's one of our great mid-century modern structures in town, which should give any design enthusiasts an obligatory Pinterest boner.
280 Charles E. Young Drive N., Westwood. library.ucla.edu/yrl.
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7. Restoration Hardware West Hollywood
A couple years back the folks at Restoration Hardware built a glorious rooftop garden with scenic views of the Hollywood Hills and the Pacific Design Center. Part of the pact with the local authorities is that in order for this park to exist, it has to be open to the public. Since 2014, it's been a quiet little hidden rooftop garden that is still somewhat of a secret, in as much as secrets are possible in Hollywood.
8564 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. restorationhardware.com/content/page.jsp?id=west-hollywood&link=rhwesthollywood-thegalleryonmelroseavenue.
8. Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library
And, finally, if you’re one of the city’s 8 billion working or aspiring screenwriters, there’s always the library at the Writers Guild of America West, which houses an obscene number of screenplays and teleplays to read and study. Want to read every episode of Frasier ever? Or skim the pages of the pilot of your favorite script that you haven't been able to buy or download? They've probably got that. The library is open to the public and filled with loads of writers plying their trade every day, except Sundays and Mondays when it's closed.
7000 W. Third St., Beverly Grove. wgfoundation.org/screenwriting-library.