Identifying Writing Locations

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Street Writer Kaile Hanna's set up on the sidewalk in New Orleans.

Areas with high footfall offer the briskest trade for writing in the street. The second variable is how long people linger in the location. People who are milling around are more likely to have time to notice you and take an interest in what you are doing than those who are in a hurry.

Destinations at which a public congregate who are seeking to be entertained are preferred pitches, typically tourist hotspots are an ideal place to pitch.

Setting up on public benches is an option if you can write without the need for a table and chair. Many street writers pack a table and chair combo and this allows them to be versatile about where they set up (see equipment).

It is often possible to set up outside shops that have closed down. The shops hold rights to a section of the pavement outside their shop. The police should not ask you to move on unless there is a complaint from the landowner, or they judge you to be a nuisance.

Squares or riverside areas which feature a combination of private bars with terraces and public space can be great. A seated audience at the terrace of a bar who have time to watch you work and are looking for entertainment between their drinks will often become customers. And remember the rule of being a popular business: queues make queues!

Learning Your Own Eyes

Luke Winter, @petitprance, street writing on Southbank, London, outside the Tate Modern Art Gallery.

Because local laws for busking & street performance can change rapidly, it can be hard to find good information online prior to making your own assessments of a place. Using your own eyes is important when selecting your writing pitch for the day. Look for the types of people who are passing, how many people are passing, where you should sit so that people can interact with you, how patrolled by security the area is and who those security are working for.

As a general rule of thumb, as a street writer you will be an unusual form of street entertainment that people have few preconceptions of and few prejudices towards. You get back what you put out, and being friendly, open and in good humour about what you are doing will often gain a favourable reaction from everyone, including those whose job is to prevent unpleasant disturbances from taking hold on territory they're employed to guard. Make street writing a positive, surprising, fun addition to the ambiance of each environment you set up in.