Posts Tagged ‘ writing for yourself ’

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.


Mornings at the office of the Sexy Grammarian

The southeastern sky shines bright in the mornings in the SOMA district of San Francisco, so bright that I wear a sun hat to work at my desk and meet any morning clients out in a cafe.

I’m busy with new coaching clients and a new workshop series. I’m writing a lot, focused on completing the third draft of novel #1. A lesson I’ve learned before about being busy and letting creativity flow: take good care of my body. See the healthy breakfast?

Day 11: The Magical Darkness

Today’s Word Count Goal: 32,450

Today’s Word Count So-Far: 18,782

Total Word Count Goal: 50,000

It’s struck, the dark magic of NaNoWriMo. It has fallen like the darker, longer nights have fallen upon us. I started to feel it Tuesday, the creeping up of something fierce and powerful in me, a side of myself I see only when I immerse completely in a creative project.

I am defensive and protective. If you look at me funny or talk to me for longer than is necessary, I might lash out and accuse you of taking time away from my art.

I’m like Gollum with his Precious. Anyone around might be trying to steal it.  The man who sold me my crepe Tuesday morning bore the psychic brunt of my creative boiling. Stop talking to me! I need to go write! Give me my crepe! Don’t ask me so many stupid questions! Just give me my crepe and leave me alone! You are trying to sabotage my writing time! I can only hope he wasn’t very tuned in to my mean spirited internal dialogue.


Watch the Sexy Grammarian participate in National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row. I’ll post word counts and worries here daily, Tweet about it, raise funds for the Office of Letters And Light, and host Meet Me/Tweet Me open loft writing sessions all month long.

Don’t Be A Wuss, Mark Clements pushes comfort zones

Anybody who’s read his fiction knows that Mark Clements is no wuss, but he thinks most amateur writers are at risk of wussiness, especially when they write about sex and violence. “Amateur writers usually stop short. We almost never go too far. Raise your expectations. Your brain is lazy.”

He speaks of finding maximum impact in every scene. Don’t avoid details because you don’t like them. Storytellers are supposed to go further than observers could imagine without our help. “If you are afraid to have your characters go down a particular hallway, they probably should. It’s not your job to water stuff down or to write to the lowest common denominator,” he contends. And he encourages detail. “Once you let yourself write an explicit scene, make sure it is detailed. These scenes really are about the details.”

And for whom are you writing? Mark won me over when he told a roomful of aspiring writers to shift the focus from potential readers to themselves. “Your readership, at first, consists of one person: you. Satisfy yourself first.” And how do we satisfy ourselves? “The satisfaction you get from writing is based on how honest you are.”

Damn, I wish I has said that.