Written by Creative Writing Program Staff
Most of a writer’s work is solitary, but that doesn’t mean it can’t occur in the city’s most vibrant locations. Whether you’re seeking a quiet location or would rather be immersed in music and art, here are six great spaces to write and get inspired in Washington, DC:
Since opening in 1980, the independent Bridge Street Books has offered a diverse selection of titles to readers in Georgetown. This place has one of the best poetry selections in town, and the owners and employees are beyond knowledgeable, willing to find the perfect book for you—the perfect book you may not have even known you were looking for. It’s cozy and warm. It draws in local writers and touring big-names. Don’t miss out.
With a high-profile location (on the National Mall) and an unbeatable admission price (free), the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a popular stop for our students. The architecture—a renowned Gordon Bunshaft design—is a cylindrical building, and the adjoining plaza boasts a sculpture garden.
Here you’ll peruse cutting edge work in contemporary and modern art, and witness culture-making outreach: exhibitions, public programs, research and conservation projects, and cutting-edge film screenings. Take a notebook, wander, and find your next idea.
IOTA Club & Café provides Arlington with the ideal space for “sipping, supping, and hanging out,” with Wi-Fi and private nooks rumored to conjure the best poetry and prose. Serving local Ceremony drip coffee and Revolution tea, and fueling you with snacks and entrees, IOTA has all you need for a day or evening of dedicated work.
Don’t miss out: The IOTA poetry series is held on the second Sunday every month, hosted by a local poet.
The Potter’s House bookstore, café, and event space first opened in 1960, and it now bills itself as “a key place for deeper conversation, creative expression and community transformation.” Read a book over a cup of pour-over coffee or jasmine tea. Sip a house-made thyme soda while pecking away at your manuscript. Enjoy a plate of shrimp and grits while enjoying a book of poetry. An Adams Morgan icon and nonprofit, Potter’s House remains the perfect venue for serious literary work, quiet talk, or social justice-minded organizing.
Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse:
Politics and Prose opened in 1984, and it’s gone through a few iterations—all of which have continued to build its prominence in our city’s literary scene. Politics and Prose supports local groups, rotating artists and an open mic night. This place is dedicated to fostering not just individuals, but the full writing community. The calendar here is packed, hosting at least one writer every day. And the café opens an hour before the bookstore, so you can start your writing day early.
With their vast seating area, wide selection of resources, and free internet access, the DC Public Library System offers a friendly place for writers. A branch of the DC Public Library, the recently renovated Shaw Library is particularly inviting, sporting a sleek modern design and a bright, inviting atmosphere. Reserve a private study room, claim a desk, or browse the impressive film collection on the main floor. Find yourself a writing corner full of natural light, surrounded by books and book lovers.
The District is full of interesting and inspiring places to write and to seek ideas—our creative writing students find new spaces every day. Learn more about the MFA program at AU.