Monday, August 6, 2012

The Coffee Shop Writer

Earlier this week I had a great idea. My husband (that still seems weird to say) needed the hotel room for an interview.  I needed to find some time to write, so I decided to wander around and find a coffee shop to write in.

I mean, if that's how JK Rowling did it, it must be a great idea, right?

So, at about 8:45 am I trekked out of the hotel and wandered around Toronto looking for a coffee shop.  It didn't take long, it is Toronto.  There were about 3 within 500 m of the hotel (2 were Starbucks--I guess in case you didn't want to cross the road). I settled into the one that had comfy chairs.

I don't know about everyone else, but I can't just go into a coffee shop and sit there without buying something.  I don't go to coffee shops often (I don't like coffee), but these places are pricey!  I bought my ($5!) drink and took a seat, popped open my laptop, and got ready to get to work.

The one (and only) thing that seemed to work for me at this particular coffee shop was that there was no wi-fi.  So at least there wasn't that distraction.

But what I didn't expect was how noisy it would be.  I mean, I expected people (and looking back, I should have remembered it was rush hour and would be busy), but I didn't expect as much noise as there was (probably caused by the amount of people).

And of course, I didn't bring my headphones so I got to listen to the sound of the bell ringing every time the door opened (it happened a lot!) and of course there was the blender sound (which also happened a lot!) and there was the conversations going on.  My favourite was the interview I got to listen to.  I don't know what the interviewee thinks, but I have my doubts that he got the job.

To sum it up, there was a lot of noise.  But I was a little proud of myself. I did manage to focus past all of it (I credit that with the lack of internet) and did get almost 2000 words done--which is a good day for me.  I actually only gave up because I really had to go to the bathroom and didn't want to pack and unpack my stuff again.

Anyway, lesson learned. Coffee shop writing may not be for me.  Or, maybe I just need to bring some headphones. Or not go during rush hour.  Or go to a bigger coffee shop (I've been in the one Rowling wrote was a lot bigger!)

So maybe there is no lesson learned.  Maybe I need to try it out in a few different ways. There is something to be said for a change of scenery to help with your writing.

Thoughts?  Do you write in coffee shop?  Or are there other (better) places that help you focus?


  1. I am a coffee shop writer myself. But then I always bring my iPod with me. I write on blue rule white paper legal notepads and only use the WiFi on my smart phone to look up Wikepedia for any quick info.

    And yes, you have to buy he coffee although you really are paying for the atmosphere.

  2. I don't write in a coffee shop, I didn't know whether to try! I think I would be too distracted (hee to an interview) but sounds like it helped you focus. Changes of scene sometimes help don't they! (and no internet, boy that's key for me!)

  3. I've scribbled notes at the coffee shop but I never went there just for writing. I too get distracted easy but think people watching- err observing- can be inspiration.