The Writers’ Barn & Shared Office Space

SONY DSC           Last week I had the good fortune to teach a writing workshop at The Writers’ Barn, in Shelburne, Vermont.

The barn is just that – a barn, but it’s been renovated into a light, airy space with all the modern amenities for that particular breed: writers. There are tables, chairs of several varieties, light, heat, wi-fi and coffee and tea on demand. The mission of The Writers’ Barn is to build a supportive space for writers of all ages to develop writing skills, whether for pleasure or profession, and to build communities that share and celebrate the written or spoken word. They pursue this mission two ways: through workshops and through space.

The Writers’ Barn has offered workshops in writing memoir, children’s picture books, manuscript revision, sports writing, poetry, and craft. I taught a workshop on craft, detailing techniques for writing short. Eight people attended, including the editorial staff from a national magazine, a memoirist, a free-lance magazine writer, and an eighth-grader who wants to be a professional writer. We had a lot of fun – and enjoyed the cider donuts provided to fuel us through the afternoon.

I was particularly pleased to be able to hook my laptop up to a huge, flat-screen TV, so that I could project my materials for all to see without having to inhale marker fumes on a white board or kill a lot of trees. It’s times like this that I love technology. And I’m looking forward to a return visit later this month to lead a Holiday Writing Retreat.

The Writers’ Barn is also a space available for use as a meeting venue and as a workspace. The Writers’ Barn has hosted special events, including poetry readings and literary salons. The Writers’ Barn is also available as shared workspace for writers who don’t have a room of their own. For a monthly fee, writers can use the barn to write. They are free to come and go at all hours except those blacked out for workshops or events, and they are provided with cubby space in which to store any materials they don’t want to schlepp.

I’ve heard about shared office space before, and know of several published authors who rent offices where they can treat their writing with the seriousness of a job – and have access to a water-cooler, where they can hydrate and sip office gossip. There’s one such space in Northampton Massachusetts called Click, where writers, entrepreneurs, freelancers and frazzled parents can go to get work done. Click offers professional office space, complete with comfortable work stations, wireless internet, power, conference rooms, printers, kitchenette, and the requisite free tea & OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcoffee.

I work alone, in a studio in the woods, which is absolutely great – most of the time. When it’s not, I wish I could walk down a hall and find a colleague to help me out of a slump, or tell me a joke, read me a poem, or remind me that having a bad day is no reason to quit.

Does anybody use or know of other shared office spaces? Has anybody attended a great workshop on craft lately? Does anyone know of another place like The Writers’ Barn?

I’m looking forward to your comments.

dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin is a novelist, essayist and educator who lives in southern Vermont.

13 thoughts on “The Writers’ Barn & Shared Office Space

  1. Wow. The Writer’s Barn sounds like a wonderful idea. Of course, as Woolf said, every writer needs a ‘room of their own,’ especially when they can’t find one in their everyday life. And the major difference from the local library would be the peer support that each writer would get at a place like this. It would be nice if this “shared writer’s space” would catch on and spread…like Starbucks. Ha!

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  2. The barn indeed sounds wonderful! Where I live there are shared office spaces, but usually not affordable for freelancers or writers of any kind. Most freelancers and writers I know rent a small, inexpensive studio apartment to work from. I did the same and currently waiting for my desk to be delivered. Hopefully I can start treating my writing as a proper job soon! Great post.

  3. I moved outside Omaha, Nebraska a few months ago and have a huge barn on my property. My dream is to make it a writing workshop/retreat just like the one you write about. Right now, it’s only fit for mice, but reading that someone else has done it is motivating! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Pingback: Where is the Best Place to Write? | Writer Aid

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