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A Guide To Twin Cities Writing Spots

For some people, November is the month to start thinking about the upcoming holidays. But for another, pretty sizable portion of the local population, it's time to write a novel. In other words, it's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) time. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days -- and a holiday month to boot.

Writers who join in on this fun annual event frequently get together for write-ins. Coffee shops are popular spots. But if you're looking for a change of scenery, a break from caffeine, or some new inspiration, visit one of these spots to break that writer's block.

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(credit: University of Minnesota)

Coffman Memorial Union, U of M

300 Washington Ave SE
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri., 7-2 a.m.; Sat., 8-2 a.m.; Sun., noon-11 p.m.

The gathering spot for students of all ages for decades is just off the Washington Avenue Bridge and is usually a hubbub of activity. Find a corner to pop open the laptop and write. If your plot's not working, do some people-watching.

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(credit: St. Paul Central Library)

St. Paul Central Library

90 West 4th St
St. Paul
Hours: Mon., noon-8 p.m.; Tues.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sun., 1-5 p.m.
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Minneapolis Central Library

300 Nicollet Mall
Hours: Mon., Wed., Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tues., Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.
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There are libraries galore across the Twin Cities metro area, each of them offering places to settle in with your computer for some serious work. But if you have the chance, spend some time in the beautiful, historic St. Paul Central Library on Rice Park, and in the striking (and still relatively new) Minneapolis Central Library. You'll get different vibes at each place, and it never hurts to be surrounded by books when writing a novel.

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(credit: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory)

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

1225 Estabrook Drive
St. Paul
Hours: daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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For inspiration of a different sort, pay a visit to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. You can check out the animals (weather permitting), then soak in the tropical warmth of the Conservatory before stopping at the Park's Zobota Café (free WiFi for food customers) to write.

Minneapolis Institute of the Arts

2400 Third Ave So
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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What better place to seek inspiration than an art museum? Another great way to break a writer's block is to find a work of art that intrigues you, and work it into your story somehow.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

3675 Arboretum Drive
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (building hours)
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Maybe you need a more nature-oriented spot to do some inspired writing. Going to the Arboretum will certainly help. Depending on the weather, you could take a trek down the Three-Mile Drive (open year-round for walking) to see what the changing season looks like, then curl up in the cafeteria area on the second floor of the Oswald Visitor Center (bonus: there's a fireplace!) with some hot coffee, tea, or soup, and let your creativity flow.

Amy C. Rea lives with her family in the Twin Cities. She's the author of Backroads & Byways of Minnesota and Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes: an Explorer's Guide. She can also be found chatting about Minnesota travel topics at

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