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When I tell people I work as a freelance writer, they ask me one of two things. First, am I penning the next Harry Potter/Fifty Shades of Grey/Game of Thrones? Second, do I work in my pajamas?
The answer to both questions is: no.
I’m a specialist science and technology writer (more geek than grey I’m afraid) and I’ve never worked in my pajamas. That’s (mainly) because I use coworking spaces as a base for a lot of my work.
At a coworking space, you share a space with other workers. You can rent a desk or an office on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You can use such spaces as and when you need to – the big bonus (from my perspective) is you are part of a wider community of workers.
There are many pros and cons of using a coworking space as a freelance writer. It depends on the sort of work you do and how you prefer to work. Those writers who thrive in solitude, for example, will probably not find the shared environment very conducive to work.
There’s also the cost. While this varies between different spaces, you can expect to pay around $25/day or $250/month for a shared desk or $400/month for a dedicated desk at one of the many coworking spaces in New York. That may seem a lot more expensive than your home office or the local Starbucks – but it’s a lot cheaper than hiring a permanent office space, which is around $5,000/month in the NYC area – and there are many other benefits of writing at a coworking space.
You’ll be part of a community of liked-minded people. This means that you’ll never find yourself talking to the kettle again (is that just me?) and you may even boost your business opportunities, productivity and creativity.
Almost three-quarters of coworkers claim to be more productive, 86% say they have a bigger business network and 93% have a larger social network. And more than two-thirds of coworkers feel more creative, according to research from Deskmag and Deskwanted.
There’s also the free coffee and tea, and some spaces offer some pretty cool benefits. For example, the atx factory in East Austin has its own food truck park, Outpost in Bali has an in-house masseuse, and Trehaus in Singapore provides its members with an array of childcare services.
Things to consider when choosing a coworking space as a writer
Every coworking space is different, so it’s important to do your homework and make sure you find one that’s suited to you and your work. Here are a few points to take into consideration:
1. Work out the logistics
Before you get carried away trying to find the perfect environment to write the world’s next great novel, it’s important to sweat the small stuff with a coworking space. For example, how far is it away from your home? Or your clients? How much does it cost? What’s the local area like?
Draw up a list of requirements for your working environment. These little details will matter if you want to use a space on a regular basis.
2. What do you want to achieve?
You may want to escape the home office, or make new friends, or you may want to increase your networking opportunities. Make sure you understand the specific reason you want to use a coworking space so you can choose the best one for your work.
A space’s events listing is a good indicator of what it offers its members. For example, some spaces will offer business master classes and plenty of networking opportunities, others are more focused on after work drinks and socializing. Make sure your space aligns to your goals as a writer.
3. Where do you like to write?
Coworking spaces are highly versatile spaces with private offices, different desk locations and breakout areas.
So, it’s important to identify your preferred work environment – whether that’s a bright and airy loft surrounded by people or a dark corner where you can tuck yourself away, you should make sure your coworking space fits the bill.
4. How do you like to write?
Unless I really need to concentrate, I like to work with some background noise. That’s why a coworking space works for me – the hustle and bustle help me to focus and stay productive.
So, it’s important to visit any potential coworking spaces to see what it’s really like to be in that specific environment. Most spaces are happy to show you around and some will even give you a day pass for free to try before you buy.
5. Who do you want to write with?
Every coworking space has its own community, which is usually a mix of freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups. Some spaces also specialize in one area so if, for example, you’re a technology writer (like me) you may want to work in a space that specializes in this area.
If you chose an industry-specific space, you won’t only have plenty of people on hand to answer your work-based questions, you’ll also get the chance to make some meaningful business connections. Again, a quick tour of a space will give you the opportunity to meet the people who work there.
6. Consider a writer’s space
If you fancy trying a shared workspace that’s more tailored to your needs as a writer, then you may want to look into a dedicated writer’s space. These spaces are only open to writers and usually offer a more peaceful environment, with events such as roundtables with literary agents aimed at the writing community. Paragraph in New York will give you “a quiet place to write” and Suite 8 in Los Feliz provides writers with a “quiet, communal office environment”, for example.
Blogfabrik in Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany takes things one step further. It offers its content creation infrastructure (including a coworking space, photo studio and video editing suites) free of charge its members (which are includes writers, as well as others working in the media industry). In return, those using the space organize the Content Creation Week event together.
The truth is that the best coworking space for you as a writer will be very specific to your needs and preferred way of working. But that’s the beauty of coworking. It’s a highly versatile solution that you can use as and when you need to.
Every space is different, just as every writer is different. And I’m sure there are a few coworking spaces that wouldn’t even mind if you did turn up in your pajamas.
Gemma Church is the freelance writer who gets tech. For more information about her and her services check out her personal page.