The Top Five Benefits of Writing in a Coffee Bar
by Christine Blanchette
The idea of stepping out of your home – your comfort zone – especially on a rainy day, to go to your local coffee shop to write may not sound beneficial or motivating. I thought that too until one day a rather severe windstorm brought down hydro lines, plunging the neighborhood into darkness. I was forced to find a coffee spot that still had power in order to make my deadline.
I remember walking in with my laptop, notebook and pen. The smell of java and goodies put me on autopilot, letting my senses guide me. Yes, it was certainly comfortable and besides, I had to stay and try to write. After my first taste of coffee, I was ready to create. A couple of hours and two cups of coffee later, the end result was I did make deadline – and it was an enjoyable afternoon, as well.
Writing in a coffee shop as opposed to working at home is fun. It’s also a viable excuse to get dressed and not stay in your pj’s all day. According to an article by Rachel Kolman – ‘Eight places where successful authors write,’ J.K. Rowling began writing her Harry Potter series in a coffee place in Edinburgh.
When it comes to the benefits of working in coffee shops, Rowling says “You don’t have to make your own coffee, and you don’t have to feel like you’re in solitary confinement.”
Here are my top five benefits of writing in a coffee shop:
- A change of scenery can help you stay motivated. At least twice a week I write in a coffee bar to focus on a lead or generate ideas. Writing at home too often can be challenging with so many distractions. Even at the coffee shop, however, there are some challenges to writing – especially if a particular place gets too noisy or is so popular that there’s no place to sit. You can handle the noise issue with a simple set of headphones. If there are no tables available I will look for a stool to sit on temporarily. The key is to have a comfortable chair so you can be as productive as possible.
- Find your favorite coffee place and head over there on the same day and time every week. Routine is comforting and will keep you focused and goal-oriented. Try to pick a time of day that is less busy and you will avoid the disappointment of not getting your favorite table. Choose a table with bright lighting and a wall plug for your laptop and phone. Once in a while, check out other coffee places for a change of scenery and just to have a backup.
- Music in the background can be relaxing. But make sure to bring your headphones in case you don’t like the music. Besides, if you don’t want people to talk to you, wearing headphones is a good way to let them know.
- Coffee shops are conducive to taking regular breaks. When I’m at a coffee spot it allows me to take breaks as necessary. This helps me with my creative thinking and keeps me honest with my time. Also, it is a good idea to get up every so often and move around to improve your circulation. Check your posture at times to be sure you are not slouching at the computer.
- Having coffee served to you can make your time more productive. It is also a nice treat to have coffee made for you and lots of snacks to choose from. The smell of coffee creates a comfortable atmosphere despite the occasional hard chair that I end up with. This makes me appreciate being home afterwards on my comfy chair.
Odds and ends:
Before going to a coffee shop, decide ahead of time what you will be working on and for how long. This will ensure that you’re efficient with your time. After you have accomplished your goal, you can just relax. This is a similar technique to running hard for one hour and then resting and taking it all in.
Find the right table for you. It could be a small table or a long table. Make sure you have enough space for your laptop and notebook. Try not to look at your phone, as it can be distracting.
Buying coffee each week can add up. If you are on a budget, seek out coffee places that offer free refills or have coffee/snack specials.
Even when you’re in the right setting, at the right table with coffee in hand, a dreaded case of ‘writer’s block’ may temporarily foil your best attempts to write. If that occurs, just enjoy your coffee moment and make it a social outing. When you arrive home you will most likely be ready to write, back in the safe confines of your comfort zone.
Christine Blanchette is the host and producer of her own TV show called Run With It, a running, fitness and health show on Shaw and YouTube. Christine does radio commentaries on running tips with CJMQ 88.9 fm in Quebec. In addition, she is a nationally published freelance writer.