I generally work from home but on occasion, especially if the words are proving difficult to come by, I’ll take myself off to my local coffee shop.
Want to know how that little caffeinated haven helps me to be a better writer?
1. Using my memory
A past shoulder injury prevents me from carrying anything heavier than a small cross-body handbag. My laptop, a tablet or even an A4 notepad are out of the question. What I do carry around, however, are a small notepad and a handful of pens.
Rejecting the coffee shop’s free wi-fi to access the internet, I rely on my memory to recall the details of whatever creative piece I’m working on.
I don’t worry about keeping to my writing plan or the order of events in my story. I simply write whatever my muse throws into my creative mix.
2. I write by hand
I’m a touch typist so typing my work straight onto the computer is a speedy way to get the words down, but I do love to write by hand.
In the coffee shop, of course, I have no choice than to use my pad and my pen, and as a result I write more freely, and spend much less time checking back over what I’ve written.
3. There are less distractions
Yes, I know, I’m in a coffee shop surrounded by people. How could there possibly be less distractions? Bear with me.
As I’ve said above, when I’m sat in the coffee shop, I don’t use their free wi-fi to go online, so I’m not tempted to check Facebook or Twitter.
I also can’t see the housework that needs to be done (ironing pile, messy lounge, beds to be made), so there’s no voice nagging me to break off from my writing.
And as I’m on my own, there’s no need to referee my teenagers’ squabbles or plan finances with my husband. I can just get on and write.
4. Watching the people go by
Okay, I admit it, sometimes the words still refuse to show their faces when I write from the coffee shop. When that happens, I take the opportunity to people watch.
I might ‘overhear’ a conversation, or simply notice the physical interplay between my fellow coffee drinkers. The man with the shadows under his eyes, peering furtively over his newspaper, could spark an idea for a character. How about the teenagers rowing in the corner? What ‘plot’ has brought them here?
Whatever the inspiration may be, I write it down.
5. Time to think
Taking that precious break, away from home and all its demands, helps me to dismiss the ongoing, internal dialogue of things that have to be done and just think about whatever I want to.
It might be connected with my writing, but equally I might think about the latest news, what to wear on that night out, or just let my mind wander to wherever it wishes, without feeling guilty that I’m wasting time.
6. I can read, if I want to
These days, reading a book for pleasure feels like a luxury. Reading time before sleep is often cut short by working late or tired eyes, the evenings themselves can be taken over by housework, and weekends are for quality time with my family. Where’s the time to read?
In the coffee shop, I can read without guilt or distraction.
7. I can be me
More and more, our lives are ruled by the roles we choose to play and the labels we accept. I’m a parent, a wife, a friend, taxi driver for my teens, writer, business woman, and so much more too.
In the coffee shop, by myself, I can shake off those roles and labels, even that of writer because nobody else in there knows what I’m writing in my pad. I can be me. Just me.