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The Art of Writing in Coffee Shops

Updated on January 5, 2012

It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung the green water-proof I found in the dumpster on the back of the chair to dry and put my weathered umbrella in the stand by the door and ordered the cheapest cup of coffee. The barista brought it. I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat, sharpened the pencil and started to write.

I have to get out of the house to write. The buzz of people coming gets the creative juices flowing so I naturally gravitate to coffee shops. But not just anyplace will do; there's an art to writing in coffee shops.

You want a fairly big shop where you're not taking seats away from other customers. Booths are nice so you can spread out your stuff. One shop I go to has a secluded second floor where all the laptop jockeys plug in. Some low pop music in the background and a street view keep me writing.

Decent, cheap coffee, If you can find a shop that still has a Clover coffee machine you're in luck. French press java is a nice second choice. The price has got to be $2 or under for my budget.

Before ordering I like to scope out the electrical outlets. If the muses are obliging you might be writing for a few hours - you don't want to run out of juice.

Since you're going to be working for a couple of hours furniture ergonomics means a lot especially if you write on a laptop. Does the table rock? I can't write sitting shoulder to shoulder along a long counter. Perching on a high chair makes the shoulders ache. You want your forearms level with the table to avoid repetitive stress syndrome. A shaded spot out of the direct sun makes the screen a lot easier to read.

Beware of the regulars or you'll spend more time talking than writing. Set yourself a 2 hour limit to trick out a 600 word article. If it's popular you can come back and polish it.

If the well goes dry try listening to the people at the next table. Write down snippets of conversation and try to expand them into a story. Remember you're a magpie collecting threads of description. twigs of conversation to weave into a word sweater.


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    • johndvan profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Who else writes in coffee shops? Anything to add?

    • johndvan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks Pierre - you're my first alien visitor. Some of the symbols look like the graffiti characters used to input characters with stylus on the Palm PDA.

    • johndvan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks Gyldenboy.

      The batteries on both my cell phone and laptop are past their best before dates so I keep my eyes open for outlets while I'm out and about.

    • johndvan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the support RJ.

      I used to write in hard cover notebooks. Since I've started publishing on HubPages, I've switched to using a laptop. It's much easier to cut, paste and edit digitally.

      I'll check out your hubs.

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I try to write fiction in public places. But I write at 100 words per minute in Pitman shorthand, which looks like this:

      Everyone thinks I'm an alien, writing notes to send home to be integrated into Plans for the Invasion.

    • Gyldenboy profile image


      7 years ago from Burnaby, BC, Canada

      Interesting. I've thought about writing in coffee shops, but it makes me a bit nervous to take a laptop around with me.

      As for the battery problem, I never knew you could find an outlet in some of these shops for use. Cool.

      There's some great advice here for writing in public places. Good job!

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      7 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Do you use a computer or or we talking about writing on a steno pad? I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and Useful. Hey! I'm now your fan! RJ


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