Why do Writers Write in Coffee Shops?

Thanks to Robin Storey for this article, musing about the writer’s life. Enjoy!

MO

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Since becoming a full-time writer I’ve become a cliché – I love writing in coffee shops. I’ve written in a previous postabout my local library being my favourite office away from home, but coffee shops come in as equal favourite.

IT’S A TRADITION

In my defence, I’m continuing to uphold a fine and noble tradition of writers working in coffee shops and cafes, from TS Elliott, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein and F Scott Fitzgerald to many modern writers. The most famous is J.K. Rowling, who wrote much of her early Harry Potter novels in the Elephant House in Edinburgh.

An urban myth grew up that she wrote there because she couldn’t afford heating in her flat. But she disputed this in a radio interview, saying that walking her baby in her pram to the coffee shop put her to sleep (the baby, not J.K.), which gave her free time to write.

The Elephant House must have a great creative vibe, as Inspector Rebus creator Ian Rankin and The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith have also slaved away there. When I was in Edinburgh a few years ago I visited the Elephant House and had a coffee there. I sat in the back room where JK Rowling had sat overlooking Edinburgh Castle and imagined myself in her shoes, scribbling away madly to get as much done before the baby woke up, wrestling the demons in her mind that told her it was crap and no-one would ever publish it. (I am taking a bit of literary licence here, as I have never heard her admit to the demons, but as most writers experience them, especially with their first novels, I think I’m safe in this assumption). May Lord Voldemort cast a curse on me and torture me with snakes if I’m wrong.

THERE ARE MANY THEORIES

Theories abound as to why writers are attracted to coffee shops. One of the main reasons may be visibility. Psychologists say that for a role to be internalized, it has to be observed in public. As writing is a solitary occupation, maybe we writers feel the need to be acknowledged, that we think we’re not real writers unless people see us writing. Or it could just be pure pretension.

The problem with that observation is that it’s so commonplace these days for all types of business people to sit in coffee shops tapping away on their laptops or tablets that unless you have a sign beside you saying ‘Writer at Work,’ no-one else has a clue what you’re writing.

TIP: Try looking up from your work occasionally, staring pensively into the distance as if invoking the Muse, then resume writing furiously as inspiration has suddenly struck you. This, combined with the occasional sigh or creased brow, will signal to other patrons that you’re not just writing an email to Mum or the annual shareholders’ report, but are engaged in an Important Creative Process.

I don’t have a favourite coffee shop – part of the fun is going to a different one each time. The surrounding buzz and chatter provides just the right amount of background noise for me to be able to focus on my work. The big plus is that there are no distractions, (apart from eavesdropping and people watching, but they are part of a writer’s job description) so I can’t put off my writing by doing the washing or taking a nap on the couch.

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

For those who still want that same vibe without leaving home, there’s an app called Coffitivity, that provides background coffee shop noise. But not, of course, the ambience – to a coffee shop purist, it’s like serving them instant coffee and trying to convince them it’s the real thing. Unless the app comes with the aroma of fresh coffee beans (high on my list of favourite things) and a barista who makes a full-bodied heart-starter of a cappuccino, I’m not interested.

IT’S FUN AND PRODUCTIVE

There’s also an element of fun in writing in coffee shops – it doesn’t feel like work. Non-fiction author Malcolm Gladwell of The Tipping Point and Blink Fame, long ago eschewed his office in favour of cafes and restaurants. He’s quoted as saying, ‘Writing seems like a fun activity now… it’s more seamlessly integrated into my life and that’s made it much more pleasurable.’

Many writers, myself included, find our productivity is highest when writing in coffee shops, especially when we’re in creative, first draft mode. Psychologists say that when we’re alone in a public space we have a fear of being seen to have no purpose. So we think it’s not acceptable to sit in a coffee shop alone if we’re not doing something – which explains why non-writers who frequent restaurants and cafes alone usually engage in some activity to look busy – check their phones, read a book or magazine etc. If we’re seen to be doing something purposeful, we can’t be accused of loitering and management are less likely to throw us out – even if we’ve been there for two hours and only had one coffee.

THERE’S A TIME LIMIT

And that brings me to the main disadvantage of writing in coffee shops – limited time. Just how long is it acceptable to sit in a coffee shop on the strength of one coffee? It’s not that I’m mean – I’m not able to drink more than one cup of coffee in the space of a few hours. I make it last as long as I can, but one hour is usually my limit. After that, I feel as if I’m overextending my welcome. It does mean that I get a lot of writing done in that hour, but then I have to get up and go elsewhere – usually the library.

I’ve heard of writers spending all day writing in the one coffee shop. I can only assume they eat their lunch there and drink copious amounts of coffee during the day to keep the management on side. One writer I know of turns up to his favourite coffee shop each morning at 7am when they open and is there until 6pm. That’s true dedication for you. Or caffeine addiction.

THIS NOVEL IS SPONSORED BY MY LOCAL CAFE

At the very least, he’d have to offer the proprietor a free, signed copy of his book upon publication. Unless, of course, the coffee shop was sponsoring his novel. Which, come to think of it, is not a bad idea. In return for the privilege of ensconcing myself all day in my local coffee shop with a constant supply of coffee, delicacies and neck rubs, I’d be more than happy to have inscribed on the cover of my next novel ‘Sponsored by The Raw Bean Cafe’ and even the odd ad inside.

The possibilities are endless.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you think writers in coffee shops should have an arrow pointing at them that says, ‘Pretentious Arty Type?’ Should they be entitled to free coffee in exchange for a certain number of words (eg every 1000 words = one large latte with an extra shot), or failing that, tea and sympathy?

Chime in, writers and non-writers alike.

 

Reblogged from:

http://storey-lines.com/2015/09/14/why-do-writers-love-to-write-in-coffee-shops/

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The Good Thing Harvey Washed Away

Beautifully stated re Hurricane Harvey here in Houston. Thank you to the lovely author, Angelia.
Mo

My Best Laid Plans

There’s not much in the world I can truly say I hate. But I hateHarvey.

We have been sitting here for more hours than I can begin to count being brutally lashed by his seemingly never ending fury. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t scary…terrifying…at times, but we are among the lucky ones. We are safe and dry.


Harvey has taken so much from so many. Homes, lives, hopes, jobs–all washed into the Gulf of Mexico by his relentless anger. As the horrifying images and desperate needs flash across my screen in endless and quick succession, I sit here with tears in my eyes. Where do you begin? I have never felt so helpless. My neighbors are in dire straits and I can’t do anything but pray. It’s a terrible feeling.


Pregnant women and their toddlers stuck on roofs waiting hours upon hours for…

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You’re Pretty…for a Black Girl

Thanks to this brave author, Patricia E. Randle, for speaking out in truth about what has also been MY experience as a black woman in white America.  Read on!  Good stuff.

Mo

You’re Pretty, for a Black Girl

This comment (not compliment) either makes me laugh or want to slap someone, just depends on the mood I’m in. I mean, what is that supposed to mean? Take note. I’m not talking about simply commenting on the beautiful color of someone’s skin, hair texture, eye color, etc. Like all that is cool. But

“You’re pretty, for a Black girl.”

I’ve heard this phrase so much recently I finally started to try to break down why it rubs me the wrong way.

I realized that it’s the same as saying to someone, “You’re pretty for your age,” or “You speak good English for a Mexican.”

It usually comes from a place of preconceived stereotypes. Telling someone that she’s pretty for a/an (insert race here) usually means that you have never found that race of women to be particularly attractive, which is completely fine. Never have I tried to change someone’s mind about who they are attracted to or find pretty, but if you’re trying to use that as a compliment, IT’S NOT, and never will be. So please stop. It doesn’t make the other person feel pretty or flattered — it’s quite the opposite. Instead it leaves them in defense mode, scraping to find the right words to respond to the compliment you just gave them.

It says about you, the person dishing out the “compliment,” that you don’t normally roll with people who look like me, but that I’ve become your exception.

Why would I want to be your exception? I think I’d want to be around people who found my culture interesting as a whole, not just one tiny part of it.

At the end of the day I’m not ranting about this to beat people down, but to inform. Why can’t we just be beautiful? Why can’t someone just be athletic or smart or well-traveled?

So, the next time you’d like to compliment a lady, tell her that she’s beautiful, period. Not beautiful for a Black, Asian, or Indian.

Just beautiful.

Original Article is found at:

https://www.thsppl.com/thsppl-articles/2017/4/27/youre-pretty-for-a-blackgirl

The three minute read that will make you a great writer

Thank you Ravi for this most excellent post!

Mo

The 3-Minute Read that Will Make You A Great Writer

20 Amazing Writing ideas,which I got,while stuck in Traffic

Today again, I got stuck in traffic jam, as part of my daily routine.

But, today was a bit different, I did not get frustrated, angry or cursed at someone. I faced toxic fumes, incessant rain and notorious drivers, but still did not lose my cool. In fact, I was a tad sad, when the jam was over!!

Why?

Because Today, I utilized my traffic-jammed time effectively and used it to come up with great writing ideas. I was planning it for a long time now and Today was the day when I achieved it finally!

So My Amazing IDEAS, good, bad or ugly,are as follows-:

#1 After Inhaling Toxic Fumes and Deadly Smog

Blogging Idea #1

Toxic People kill productivity, here is How.

#2 After Missing Boss’s “Urgent” Meeting

Blogging Idea #2

10 Practical Ways to Pacify, an Angry Boss.

#3 After Attending an “Important” telephonic meeting with “Urgent” action items.

Blogging Idea #3

I do not believe in work life Balance.

#4 After Spilling scalding coffee, over my Laptop

Blogging Idea #4

Multitasking is killing your brain.

#5 After Hearing stale radio jokes, again and again.

Blogging Idea #5

10 Fabulous ways to take charge of your life, by being humorous.

#6 After Envying a sparkling red Ferrari.

Blogging Idea #6

The 1 surprising Reason, you will never become RICH.

#7 After Eyeing a cute redhead, in the same Ferrari

Blogging Idea #7

When is the last time, a cute girl checked you out?

#8 After Missing a desperate job interview.

Blogging Idea #8

Your Job search isn’t going anywhere. Here is Why.

#9 After Missing my marriage anniversary dinner

Blogging Idea #9

10 Time tested Amazing ways, to attain Nirvana

#10 After Barely surviving a potential Car crash.

Blogging Idea #10

4 Valuable life lessons I learned, after Cheating Death.

#11 After Your toddler screams “Potty, Potty”.

Blogging Idea #11

4 Powerful Leadership lessons, we learn from Children.

#12 After A throbbing toothache becomes vicious.

Blogging Idea #12

Procrastination is not helping your goals. Here is Why.

#13 After Missing a goddamned important flight

Blogging Idea #13

20 Amazing inventions, that will redefine travelling in the future.

#14 After Your car air conditioner suddenly goes KAPUT.

Blogging Idea #14

If you wish to Succeed, be Resilient to Failure.

#15 After Getting a BREAKUP message from my Lover

Blogging Idea #15

This is how, Love f**k*d my great career.

#16 After Doing “Forced” chitchat with the guy next car.

Blogging Idea #16

25 Irritating things you do; which nice people won’t tell you.

#17 After Doing “Forced” TRUMP chat with the guy next car.

Blogging Idea #17

12 Exciting ways in which, Trump has cast his spell on you.

#18 After Doing “Forced” chitchat with a chatty old woman next car

Blogging Idea #18

5 Powerful ways in which, Introverts excel in leadership.

#19 After It starts raining cats and dogs.

Blogging Idea #19

This World Water Day, are you doing your bit to Conserve Water?

#20 After Getting Stuck in traffic for a long long time with no Hope.

Blogging Idea #20

20 Amazing writing ideas I got, while stuck in traffic

Bringing It All Together

I am thankful to all those great writers who had written such fabulous posts on writing. These very posts inspired me to utilize every bit of my available time to work towards honing my writing skills. Hats off also to those writers who advocated usage of commuting time for generation of brilliant ideas for writing.

Remember Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

So if you are motivated by this post, get going and start writing today!!!

Found this post useful? Kindly tap the ❤ button below! 🙂

About the author-:

Ravi Rajan is a global IT program manager based out of Mumbai, India. He is also an avid blogger, Haiku poetry writer, archaeology enthusiast and history maniac. Connect with Ravi on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.

Reblogged from: https://writingcooperative.com/the-3-minute-read-that-will-make-you-a-great-writer-2a678268904