How to Coffee Shop Write Like a Boss
One Author's Tips on Writing in Public
As a writer, I want you to think of me as a romantic figure who sits in my Downton Abbey library, penning my words with ink and quill while dressed fabulously in my Downton Abbey wares.
Are you picturing it? Beautiful right?!
But we're being honest here.
Home Couture: My Write-from-home Uniform
- jogging pants
- wool socks
- messy bun
and I added the writing gloves because I really want a pair but haven't found any I love yet (hey, knitters/crocheters...hint, hint)
Comfort is key.
Because when you're not thinking about the way your jeans are cutting at your gut, you're able to focus on the things that matter: like how to write dialogue with a British accent or why that character you love love love has to die rather brutally.
But there are days—no matter how gorgeous a space you've made for yourself at home—when you need a change of scenery; when you need to pick yourself up off the floor of your writing room, wash your hair, and head for the coffee shop in hopes of brewing new magic into your project.
Rule #1 - Leave the jogging pants at home.
You're not a college student. (Or maybe you are, in which case—good for you, have at it! You don't need to read any more of this post.)
You have emerged from your lair. You have stepped into sunlight. You are human. Hey look! There are other humans! Don't make them sorry they ventured out at the same time you did! Put in a little effort. Wear real clothes. Maybe pinch your cheeks and slap on some lip gloss. Aim for intelligent adorableness. Aim for people noticing you and thinking "that girl writing alone in that booth... she's really got her act together... I'll bet she's writing something that will change the face of modern literature."
Rule #2 - Order something you don't drink at home.
Treat yourself! Orange pekoe tea is the same from your kitchen as it is when you pay $3 for it at the coffee shop. Try something new. Get extra whipped topping. You're out of the house. Celebrate!
Rule #3 - Tip your barista.
Because you're going to be there for a while and they're fueling you with the caffeine you need to keep at it. Don't be cheap. Consider it a rental fee on the booth you're going to monopolize for hours.
Rule #4 - Be humble.
Don't prance around. Don't stand on a chair and announce to the café that you are working on a piece of artistry and could they please keep it down... Smile kindly at others but don't engage because you are there to work and chances are they don't actually care what you're doing (just that you look acceptable doing it).
Rule #5 - Take over a booth (unless the café is too busy to accommodate this).
A booth allows you room to spread out. It gives space to breathe—to keep your notebooks open—to not have to rest your coffee cup and scone on top of said notebook.
Rule #6 - Know the busy hours and aim for the quiet.
Anticipating a focused writing session when it's lunch hour at the nearby high school is like expecting your child not to have to go to the bathroom halfway through the drive-in movie—it's not going to happen.
Rule #7 - Stop scowling!
The longer I stare at my computer screen, the scowlier I think my face becomes—not because I'm angry but because I'm so intently focused that my brain forgets I'm trying to be intelligently adorable. Take regular space-gazing breaks. They will relax your face and give you a moment to recollect your thoughts before plunging back in.
Rule #8 - Commit.
If you have a genuine goal of getting down a few new pages, don't allow yourself to be distracted if friends walk in. Be polite. Say hello. Make pleasantries and then excuse yourself to get back at it—if they are truly your friends, they'll respect your need for solitude and admire your focus from across the café.
Rule #9 - Bus your own table.
You're not a diva. How hard is it to thank an inspiring coffee shop for your long lingerings within its walls by taking your own mug to the counter? It's the least you can do to show your appreciation.
Some of my greatest inspirations have come to me in coffee shops. There's something really magical about the pressure we put on ourselves when we think others might be watching us - somehow it can force more content from me than when in the quiet confines of my personal writing space.
It's certainly not for everyday. But it is a useful tool - especially in moments when you feel stuck.
Any more coffee-shop-writing tips to add? I'd love to hear them!