How To Write In A Café

I sit alone, looking chic, ankles crossed under the café table, elbows upon it. My pen rests at the uplifted tip of my chin while I think, smile to myself, and then pounce on my open journal to write something clever. Beside my journal sit my delicate cappuccino cup, my nibbled cookie, and perhaps a few books. I am in writer heaven.

And here’s the thing—I can totally have this fantasy as much as I want. It’s really easy to achieve. It makes me feel like I live in a dream. And I get writing done.

Let me repeat that: I get writing done!

So it’s a valuable pastime, I say. Here’s how to do it:

 What to Bring:

  1. Writing Materials: Travel light. You’ll look cuter at your café table without all that baggage. And if the first café you wander into isn’t perfect for you, it won’t be so annoying to pack up and leave. You don’t want to be too weighed down for this activity. You’ll stay and write a couple hours, not for two days. This is a café. Here’s what I usually pack for a café day:
  • laptop and reading glasses
  • travel notebook and pen
  1. Writing Buddy: Not always. Often, the writer-in-café fantasy requires that I travel solo. But sitting in a café with a fellow writer, practicing the art of writing with a friend, can be just as glamorous and just as productive as the lone-wolf approach. In a good writing buddy I seek:
  • somebody who’s as interested in writing as I am
  • somebody who’s easy to talk to as well as negotiate with
  • somebody with a positive attitude and basic cheerleading skills, in case I need a writer’s pep talk
  1. Money for Hourly Purchases I appreciate a good café, and I know the best way to show that and to keep the best ones in business is to pay a little rent while the cafe fuels and houses my creativity. I try to buy something approximately every hour. Here’s a typical buying schedule for me:

9am arrival:              buy a pot of tea $4

10:15am:                    ask for a teapot hot water refill and buy a cookie to go with it $2

11:25am:                    order lunch ahead of the crowd $10

1pm:                            buy a cup of coffee $2

2pm:                            get a coffee refill and another cookie; leave around 3pm $2

What To Do:

  1. Indulge: Remember, it’s your fantasy. Wear what a writer would wear in your fantasy. Order a beverage you would drink in your writer fantasy. Look out the window. Daydream. Take a picture of yourself! You’re a real writer!
  2. Listen: Inspiration is all around you. Instead of disliking the Chatty Cathy at the table next to you, study her speaking pattern, steal her drama for a story idea. Enjoy the musical Russian roulette of somebody else’s music choice. Delight your ears in the sounds of a café, the espresso machine steaming, the coffee grinder clanking, and the baristas hollering out drink orders. It’s all a part of the dream.
  3. Write: You may have planned some writing projects, but let yourself warm up with some free writing. Describe the place you’re in. Review it! Talk to yourself about the joy of being a writer in a café. Enjoy at least a little time writing whatever you feel like writing. But also, work on what you’ve brought with you. Let yourself read over your notes. Write some new material. My café writing schedule might look something like this:
    1. Chat or listen awhile upon arrival. Discuss or write down what I hope to achieve at the café today.
    2. Have some quiet time to write. I suggest a 40-60 minute interval. I’m always pleased to note that my focus is sharper and my eyes wander less when I’m sitting near others who are also writing.
    3. Have a snack, meal, or a drink break. Discuss my achievements and frustrations with my writing partner or just enjoy the writerly ambiance.
    4. If there’s time, begin again.

Where To Go:

I’m always on the lookout for a new café where the coffee is classy and the inspiration is free. Check out my café reviews on Yelp, and give your favorite writing café a shout out in the comments below.

This February, we’re romancing the writer, and one sexy way to do that is to take yourself put to a cafe to write. On Yelp you can read all The Sexy Grammarian’s cafe reviews as well as reviews clients have written about our services.

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