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Coffee shop writing?

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Stephanie Witter

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I love to write at my college's library. Less distraction and I can get in my own bubble with some music in my ears. For some reason I write faster and better there than at my place. It's probably because I'm less distracted. The serious atmosphere helps too.

Though, I never tried to write in a coffee shop. I know what I'll be trying soon.
 

Quantum1019

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I can't write in public. It doesn't work for me. I don't even like to keep typing if my wife is standing behind me. But I do usually carry a small notebook to jot down any ideas that come to me wherever I happen to be.
 

WeaselFire

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Does anyone actual write in coffee shops?
With a laptop, you can write anywhere. I have a friend who writes almost exclusively in coffee shops, though she probably blew all her advances in lattes. Another friend who writes in hotel lobbies and another who wrote his first two novels in a strip joint. It opened at 10 am and had a section off to the side nobody went in because you couldn't see the dance stage. The bartender (female) thought he was cute and they ended up dating for a few years. :)

I have a friend who is a pretty accomplished writer who house sits and writes in other people's homes. He swears it's the only way to eliminate distractions. I've been known to write on the back deck and at the beach. I proofed my last book at McDonald's because my wife was having friends over and I'm addicted to sweet tea. I spent the advance from that book on Maalox...

You can write anywhere. Just do it.

Jeff
 

electroweakstar

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How can you guys write in public places? I for one spend hours staring at my screen without typing a word. It be awkward to stare at a blank screen in public.

Blank page syndrome is usually reversed by my people watching. I have a tendency to start writing "notes" on interesting things I see around me. Weird facial tics, drink ordering habits, the commentary of the employees. You can just practice describing what people are wearing, to see if you can translate them from reality to page and how you would re-write them if given the choice.

It may not be prose on what you're working on, but it just flows.

I've never spent "hours" staring at a blank screen, though. Looking through notes, procrastinating by skimming my Twitter or blog, writing and rewriting a paragraph endlessly because I can't get it to come out, sure. But hours just staring?
 

gothicangel

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Too many people looking over your shoulder for my taste. Plus I work in catering, so sitting in a coffee shop is like a busman's holiday on my days off.

I would sit in a library though, and still go there to study when I need peace and quite. McD's quite good if you get there early before the rabble descend. I like going there on a Sunday with my copy of The Independent. :)
 

ap123

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When I was young I was fairly vested in the image of writing in the park, or a coffee shop, or late at night. Lots of posing, very little writing.

For me, what works best is early in the morning, at home. I like to pace as I'm thinking. Doesn't work well to get up and pace in a coffee shop or Central Park. ;)

But I did write for a while while my son was in chess class, the club had nice chairs, very quiet and empty on Sunday mornings.
 

electroweakstar

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What is it about walking (or running) that brings the ideas out? I have to actually use a story app (Zombies, Run!) during my running or I'd stop every 30 feet to write something down.

My walk to said coffee shop usually gets my brain hopping like crazy. I'm also an early a.m. writer but it takes me about 30 minutes to go from "yes, I am ambulatory" to "I can word good now". But yes, the pacing might be a little bothersome for the other people pouring over their typewriters. ;)
 

JessH

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Coffee shop writing is hit or miss for me. I usually get more done at the local park. I do like getting out of the house, but as many have said, you can write anywhere. I can write from my desk at home, too.

I'd love to rent a cabin like the one in "Secret Window" for a week and do nothing but hammer out my next novel. Shoot, having a property like that would be even better. Perhaps one day. . .
 

AshleyEpidemic

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I write in coffeeshops on occasion. When I do it is because it is some sort of gathering of writers and I get to interact with people on breaks. If there is no one there to interact with I tend not to go. (Aint nobody got time for that.)

Thus, I spend 99% if my time either writing in the office or at home.
 

benbradley

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Does anyone actual write in coffee shops? What are the pros/cons of coffee shop writing in your opinion? I usually write on a coach in a quiet area. Or early in the morning before other awake. I want to try writing in a local coffee shop this weekend thats why I ask.
Many (most, if you count the ones in Barnes and Nobles) NaNoWriMo write-ins are in coffee shops and restaurants. It's a bit of a different atmosphere than being in one by yourself. It's often a remarkably quiet table except for the typing. We say a quick hi/intro to new people who arrive, then get back to writing. Sometimes the MLs will give prompts or odd instructions to keep things interesting and different such as "for the next 15 minutes, type without looking at your screen." Oh, and the word wars. There's "Camp Nano" which I didn't quite understand, but it's just National Novel Writing Month out of season and with a slightly different theme, and it starts early this year, in April:
http://nanowrimo.org
http://www.campnanowrimo.org

But it got me used to visiting coffee shops when I'm "out of town" (20 minutes or more drive from home) and want to stop a few minutes to surf write something.
 

aixsponsa

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I try sometimes, but I get so distracted (I have social anxiety so the whole time I'm hyper-aware of if people are looking at me :( ) that I prefer to just write at home. I do write some if I try, but not as much as I could without worrying about whether or not anyone is looking at me (which I'm sure they're not, but I still worry over).
 

srgalactica

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The 'people-looking-over-your-shoulder thing...I've resolved that by picking a table in a corner or having my back to a wall. Obviously this only works if the place you're writing is set up that way.
 

cmtruesd

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I can write anywhere and everywhere. I've been known to get my best writing done while the kids I babysit are napping. I have a local coffee shop that's next to a movie theater. It's such a cool atmosphere, the sounds from the movie theater always make it sound like it's storming :)

I believe writers should be able to write anywhere, but I definitely think you should try out a coffee shop!
 

Elusive Wanderer

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I hate writing in public because I'm paranoid that someone's going to be reading over my shoulder. But I have an anxiety disorder, so take that with a grain of salt. Crowds make me nervous to begin with. I've heard that it's a good way to write without as many distractions as at home, plus the change of scenery can be good for your brain.

I also have an anxiety disorder (agoraphobia), but I can deal with it. Fortunately, it has self-resolved about 80% over the past year.

That said, I can go places, but even without the anxiety I would be way too distracted. I write much more focused, quality material when I am alone in silence (No kids, no dogs, no husband, no music, no geriatric cat screaming at me to feed her). Times like this happen about once a day. For five minutes. Best five minutes of my day.
 

lolchemist

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I don't think I could ever do it. I hate crowds! And it would drive me nuts if screeching children or obnoxious grown-ups with their 'important' cellphone conversations kept invading my head-space. The main benefit I see is having easy access to coffee-drinks and pastries but you can easily do that at home too.
 

kkbe

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I've never tried writing in a coffee shop but I've attended meetings there: management's attempts at informality, I guess. Concentration was nearly impossible because of the distractions. I suspect writing in a coffeeshop would mirror that experience.

As much as I lament writing in this small space, door shut and curtains drawn, I need it to write. I need dark and I need quiet. I distract myself enough as it is.
 
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buz

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The most productive place for me to write is somewhere where I am alone and cannot access the internet.

I can't write around other people, or think clearly (well, I think I very rarely think clearly, but it's worse around others). I am instantly on edge in public and much of my energy gets focused outward in a nervous, semi-paranoid force-field that is perceived by many, possibly rightly, as an aura of bitchiness. I can't be at ease and I can't focus on what I'm doing or thinking if there is talking and movement around me. I wouldn't call it full-blown anxiety, necessarily, but just...ill-at-easeness. Nervousness. Can't settle. I wouldn't call myself fidgety when I'm alone, but I am in public.

But I know people who are the opposite. Being in a public environment focuses them more and they feel comfortable. So. Doesn't surprise me if people like to write in coffee shops/libraries/etc. Just not for me. :)
 

RedWombat

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I write primarily at coffee shops.

My studio is awesome for what it is, which is a place to paint. It's all set up for painting, both digital and physical. And when the time comes to illustrate the books (I do hybrid comic/chapter books) I will spend four or five hours a day plunked at the desk illustrating.

For writing, though, I need exactly the opposite of what I need when I'm painting. I want to get as far away from the studio as possible, both physically and mentally, not constantly getting up, poking something, wondering if the paint is dry, staring out the window at the bird feeder, etc.

So I go to the coffee shop. My local baristas all know me, get me the usual, and then leave me alone. I have my table in the corner, I sit down, I hammer out my thousand words without checking my e-mail and fidgeting and wandering around, and then I close up the laptop and go home. It takes half the time it would in my studio.

(Much as I love the current place, I do miss my old stomping ground, which was a hole-in-the-wall cafe where I could get a chicken salad sandwich, a bottomless cup of a coffee, and a dill pickle to make strong men weep. Alas, they closed, and now I must forage for lunch on my own.)

It wouldn't occur to me to go so that People Know I Am A Serious Writer. I live in a small town, everybody already knows what I do for a living...
 

saizine

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I really enjoy writing at my local Starbucks (even if the idea is vaguely reminiscent of the pseudo-writers at coffee shops stereotype), but I generally only go with a pen, a notebook, and some sort of web-enabled mobile device so I can check details or verify a fact without getting easily distracted by the internet. I don't write on a laptop in public, only longhand. I'd be worried about people reading over my shoulder, but I generally get tables with my back to a wall or to a window and my local's pretty quiet except for the pre-work rush in the morning and when all the students from the local high school are released for the day. Early evening, it's mostly the same people each time. Plus, I write exclusively in cursive (and it isn't always neat!) and people would have to try a lot harder to read what I've written, so I'll take the risk. I'm someone who prefers to be left completely alone when writing at home, but being surrounded by strangers in public is fine.

I sometimes find it easier to write in public, or in somewhere different from normal, especially if I'm having particular trouble with where to go with a scene, or if I know exactly where I'm going but the words aren't coming out. I like a lot of white noise, a hum of life going on around me, so I like the whirring coffee machines and conversations. If I reach the end of a sentence and need a moment to compose my next one, I can look up and the place can be entirely different than it was ten minutes before. My main distractions are the internet (which I eliminate by not bringing a laptop) and my other ideas (which I can keep under control with a paper stuck in my notebook's back pocket for jotting down ideas in order to forget them until later). What other people find distractions in sound are actually part of what I love about writing in a coffee shop/cafe.

Everyone should give it a go at some point, just to see if it works for them. Don't worry about people thinking you're a 'poseur,' because I don't think most people really think that when they're dashing in to get a coffee. They're more bothered about their caffeine fix. And I've seen so many students in mine who have tables set up as if they're the most studious person in the world but are actually watching innumerable clips of Family Guy on YouTube, so I think we're okay. ;)
 

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Just wanted to add that I prefer coffee shops to libraries (the main other alternative I see if you want to write in public) not only because the library is farther away, but because:

1) I prefer the continuous background noise of a coffee shop to what I find often happens at libraries: it's lovely when it's silent, but then a kid will start shrieking or someone will start eating baby carrots verrry slowly or a group of teenagers will start talking about their homework, and I find those noises quite distracting in an otherwise silent environment. I know, earphones. But they're not my favorite.

2) The hours are better, especially on weekends. My nearest libraries are closed on Sundays.

3) I like drinking tea (or coffee) while I write.

4) At libraries I'm usually sharing a big table with many other people, whereas at coffee shops, I have more of my own space.
 

Beachgirl

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I get my highest word counts while writing in my local coffee shop, diner, or Barnes and Noble. There's something about the stimulation of being around people that fuels my creative side.
 

leversandpulleys

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In terms of fun, freewriting in a bar is a hoot. Aside from the drinks, they're (sometimes) a bit louder than coffee shops -- you can really wail on the keys without annoying anyone. The people watching can be pretty good there too. It's often harder to pick out specific bits of dialogue, but the patrons are usually less reserved (after a few), so there's plenty of body language to observe.

And, if you do feel like making a spectacle of yourself (good therapy now and then), try bringing in a portable manual and banging away in the corner with a vodka and lime.

Craig
 

musingstar

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I love writing in coffee shops! We have a Starbucks down the street and I like to sit at a window seat in the front and watch the people come and go. I also love the sunshine and the smell and the sounds and the opportunity for inspiration from the world around!
 
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