Working at home is fantastic — until you can’t stand to be in your apartment for another friggin’ second. Every writer or creative freelancer has their own variation on the stir-crazy fugue: The apartment’s too small, the kids don’t have an off switch, or being in your PJs until dinnertime feels depressing, not decadent. Brooklyn has help for the lonely laptopper — flexible, rentable workspaces that a freelancer can actually afford. Whether you’re a novelist who must have silence or blogger with a phone habit, you can find a space that will fit your needs and rescue you from your apartment.
Newly opened Ditmas Workspace occupies the first floor of a classic Victorian house at 535 East 17th Street in the criminally picturesque neighborhood of Ditmas Park. It was founded by Liena Zagare, who writes the Ditmas Park Blog with her husband, Politico.com blogger Ben Smith, and their friendly attitude plus the residential setting create a vibe that’s relaxed but still professional. A cluster of likeminded political writers, plus sundry novelists and editors, work in relative quiet in the phone-friendly main space. A sweet, sunny room with antique wood paneling and bay windows is reserved for writers who need a noise-free environment. Rates start at $150 per month.
Silence is golden at the popular Brooklyn Writers Space, a 2,000-square-foot facility at 58 Garfield Place in Park Slope that provides desk carrels, internet access, printers, a roof deck, and the all-important free coffee for serious writers. Members mute their cell phones and computers before entering the main work room (as a member, I’ve been sternly shushed for inadvertent computer beeps) and talk only in the kitchen or phone room. BWS’s formula of total freedom from noise and distraction works for many notable Brooklyn writers, and monthly readings at Union Hall, hosted by BWS’s founder, Scott, Adkins, let you check out the talent lurking in those quiet cubicles. Full-time membership costs $310 per quarter.
Journalists who like BWS’s affordable space but can’t work without their phones can try Room 58, located in the Brooklyn Artists Gym at 168 7th Street in Gowanus. Co-founded by Scott Adkins of BWS and the Brooklyn Artists Gym, Room 58 provides file storage, research materials, and fellow members who won’t give you the fisheye when you need to take that call.
The Brooklyn Creative League is building an 11,000-square-foot hive, where writers, graphic artists, web designers, agents, and others can share space, ideas, and resources. Opening in mid-March, BCL has a range of options, from single desks starting at $350 a month to private offices for entrepreneurs who need full amenities without the expense of a standard commercial lease. The converted industrial space on 540 President Street in Park Slope/Gowanus features green building materials and an industrial-chic aesthetic — catnip for the creative set — plus conference rooms, reception, and open areas for easy networking. Founders Neil Carlson and Erin Carney have backgrounds in community development and nonprofit organization, and they’ve designed BCL to foster collaboration (say, between a web designer and a graphic artist) among a community of professionals.
Sent by Nicole. Text by Jennifer DeMeritt. Photos courtesy Ditmas Workspace, Brooklyn Writers Space and the Brooklyn Creative League.