Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The 10 Best Cities to be a Writer

...and St. Louis is in the Rankings at # 1

The below is a re-posting of a interesting MyLife Blog post article byChristian Neeser on the best cities to be a writer.  At the bottom of the post there is a chart of all 100 cities evaluated.

When you see people walk by, do you create a narrative in your head of what they might be talking about? Or invent the life story of the hamburger you’re eating? Then you might be a writer.
But it’s difficult to thrive as such in just any city – your surroundings have be inspiring, and you need to be able to find work until you pen the next great American novel. To help authors determine what city best makes a great writer, we did an analysis using criteria we thought would help find the best of the best.

Here’s How We Ranked Them

We started with a list of the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. and ranked them from one to 100 in each of the following categories:
  • Cost of Living – We’re not all Stephen King; most writers don’t have a lot of disposable income so it’s good to know which cities are affordable. We sourced Area Vibes for this information.
  • Writer Job Openings – In order to secure some of that disposable income, a writer needs a job. This only included jobs as a writer, not jobs that listed “writing skills” in the requirements. These positions were found on the job search engine, Indeed.
  • Percentage of Population Working in the Arts - Writing is certainly an art, and the more people in a city with the same ambitions as you can be a great source of inspiration. There’s also a better than normal chance their inspiring work will be featured around the city. And the more of these folks there are to meet, the easier it will be to collaborate and grow as a writer. Figures for this were from the U.S. Census.
  • Number of Bookstores/Coffee Shops Per Capita – Obviously, writers love reading, and hate Kindles and iPads. Nothing beats holding an actual book in your hands. And there’s just something about the mix of caffeine and people watching that gets the creative juices flowing. This set of data was found on Yelp.
After establishing a ranking for each of those categories, we assigned a score to each city for those categories as well. Once those were added up, we divided the sum into an average; the lower that average was the better.

1. St. Louis, MO

Photo from Flickr User Nathan Lucy.
The Gateway to the West, St. Louis ranked no worse than 26th in every category; that consistency vaulted them to number one on our list. STL ranked 11th in the percentage of population working in the industry category, and Dunaway Books helped it rank 14th in number of bookstores and coffeeshops.

2. Cincinnati, OH

Photo from
Nothing like killing two birds with one stone as Kaldi’s Coffehouse and Bookstore does, which helped Cincinnati rank second overall. The Blue Chip city ranked 15th in that category, and ranked no worse than 26th everywhere else.

3. Pittsburgh, PA

Photo via
Coming in at number three on this list, Pittsburgh was able to rank sixth in the number of bookstores and coffee shops category. But Steel City is of course famous for its hardworking citizens, and the writers are no different; it ranked 31st in the percentage of the population working in the industry category.

4. Atlanta, GA

Photo by Dustin Chambers
There are jobs aplenty for writers here in Atlanta; the city ranked ninth in that category, bested only by San Fran. Writing workshops such as Kill Your Darlings help aspiring writers perfect their skills for the working world. ATL ranked tenth in number of bookstores and coffee shops as well.

5. Orlando, FL

Photo by Joe Burbank
Universal Studios isn’t the only way Orlando is drawing attention to itself; they were able to rank in the top eight in three different categories. The Kerouac House offers free rent for a period of time to writers so that they can focus on their work.
6. Minneapolis, MN
Photo from
The bookstore pictured, creatively named in reference to “Where the Wild Things Are,” helped Minneapolis rank seventh in number of bookstores and coffee shops category.  They were able to rank in the top ten in percentage of the population working in the industry as well.

7. Buffalo, NY

Photo by Charles Lewis
Buffalo didn’t crack the top 30 in three of the categories, but used a number one ranking in cost of living to sneak into the top ten. The Young Writers Studio is molding aspiring writers to enhance their skills in the craft.

8. Denver, CO

Photo via
There is certainly no shortage of inspiration in the Mile High city; the mountains are good for a lot of things, and one of them is curing writers block. Denver ranked in the top 25 in three categories, including 11th in the number of bookstores and coffee shops, such as ink! Coffee.

9. Seattle, WA

Photo via
Creativity bursts at the seams in the Emerald City. Seattle has the most coffee shops and bookstores of all cities on this list, which is no surprise. But it also ranked tenth in percentage of population working in the industry, as demonstrated by the self-employed man pictured above, who writes poems for patrons at the Fremont Flea Market.

10. San Francisco, CA

Photo from
If it weren’t for its ranking of dead last in the cost of living category, the City by the Bay would likely have taken home the number one ranking, as it was seventh or better in the other three categories. San Francisco‘s world famous bookstores, such as City Lights, propelled it to tenth overall instead.

Where’s New York City and Los Angeles?

Although there are several cities for writers to thrive, many might wonder why well-regarded cities like New York or Los Angeles didn’t rank better. If you want to be a screenwriter or playwright, this ranking may not be for you, as there are probably more jobs in screenwriting and playwriting in both of those cities.
But if your focus is more general and you just want to write, this analysis will make more sense, which knocked down those cities for extremely high cost of living and average scores in the other categories.

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