Ask anyone who writes for a living where it's hardest to get anything done and they'll tell you it's the carefully set up and undoubtedly cherished home office. I blame e-mail.
If I really have to get writing done, I pack up my stuff, don a gigantic, backbreaking backpack and hit the streets, heading for my favourite downtown offices.
Not the library. You'd think that'd be my first destination, but let me tell you something about the library. Everyone is supposed to be quiet there, but no one is. People answer cellphones in the library. So to me, the library is a lie. And I would frankly rather go someplace that's supposed to be noisy and is than drown in a lie. Go to the library for books, but not to get stuff done.
I like the Drake (1150 Queen West, 416-531-5042) because it has good coffee and because hanging out on Queen in general makes me feel like an artist. You can work for an extended period of time without too much guilt, feeling especially cool if your iBook matches all the other iBooks in the place.
Also, there's a big table by the south window where you could gather a group of your friends to work, although I'm not sure how much you'd get done.
The bummer about Starbucks (I go to the one at 494 Bloor West, 416-535-9984) is that it's much busier, especially during lunch and after school. The tables are small, and when people scrape their chairs, it vibrates my butt. The window, which looks over Bloor, is big and lets in a lot of light, which I enjoy. The major downside is that their ridiculous Starbucks CDs play all the time and, frankly, they suck.
To me, Alternative Grounds (333 Roncesvalles, 416-534-5543) is the wandering writer's Promised Land. It has several huge retro kitchen tables you can spread your stuff out on and, aside from the odd scream of a coffee grinder or small child, it's relatively chill most of the time. There's almost always a table, save on busier weekends, and the back garden makes you feel like writing a novel. The iced lattes taste like light, foamy coffee milkshakes from heaven.
Because you can't live on coffee, Not Just Noodles (570 Yonge, 416-960-8898) is my non-coffee writing space alternative. Downstairs it's a frantic Chinese takeout/eat-in, but upstairs is a quiet, dimly lit room with tables and chairs set up amongst fake vinery. You can nurse a bowl of fantastic hot 'n' sour soup while you work relatively undisturbed.
It's very rarely quiet at the Moonbean Coffee Company (30 St. Andrew, 416-595-0327) , so I wouldn't recommend it for those with sensitive demeanours, but there is a lot of space, good coffee and a back patio. Plus, you can nab yourself something nice to wear in Kensington on the way home, if you can afford it.
So here's hoping you find a quiet spot away from distraction to get your work done. With winter coming, it's probably about time to get some fancy fingerless gloves so you can continue to work outside on available patios until the snow falls. Long live the Canadian caffeine-addicted artist!