Saturday, July 3, 2010

Writing in the Cafe

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on edits for Book #4 of The Futhark Chronicles, Children of Futhark. I won’t go into the process except for one thing. Why is it I can get more accomplished while sitting in my favorite coffee shop than I can while sitting in my office at home?

Surely there are more distractions sitting in the Seattle’s Best Café in my local Borders than there is in my small carpeted room at my writing desk at home? Today there were only a handful of people present but two of the men knew each other and talked long and loud about their stocks. One lady sitting by herself shared her cell phone conversation with half the store. We only heard one side of it and believe me, it wasn’t worth sharing. Behind me an older man was trying to impress a younger woman with his knowledge of travel in Europe and grad school.

The kind lady working behind the counter made some really long announcements into the store PA system about their specials for the day. She refilled the ice machine to much clanging and of course she had to grind coffee for someone. Yet I accomplished so much. Why?

Despite all these distractions, they were still less than those I get at home. Even when I’m home alone (very seldom happens), I feel the pressure of the dirty laundry, the long-ignored bathrooms, the weed-filled flower beds and my love of baking. Few are the days when I indulge in more than an hour of uninterrupted writing time. I’m always hoping up to work on another chore. I love multi-tasking and can’t seem to refrain from it even when I really want to concentrate on my writing.

So I pack up my computer and drive the ten minutes to my local Borders, buy an over-priced latte and work. My goal is to make this trip at least every third day over the next two weeks and get the rest of the edits done. Then I’ll need a few hours to recheck the formatting, write up a brief synopsis and then send it off to my publisher by the end of the month.

How about you? Is there a place where you find the peace needed to write? Is it home or elsewhere? Are coffee shops distracting or relaxing to you?


  1. I've only ever written in my house or in my back yard. I think I'd be too nosy to write in public - too much going on to watch :)

    I always have the tv or music on so distractions at home don't bother me much.

  2. I'm not a write-at-the-coffee-house type. I usually need a pretty quiet place to write. I'm waaaaay too easily distracted. Oh, look! Was that a chicken?

    Congrats on the fourth book, Sue! I can't wait for number two this winter!

  3. Somehow writing public helps my concentrate. And I haven't seen any chickens, Ava, yet.
    I like TV or music when I'm at home, Jemi, but something about being in the bookstore coffee shop just inspires me.

  4. I've never tried working at a Borders (the closest one to me is two hours away) but I can't imagine I would have much luck there...too much people watching. I tried the local library one afternoon and while the lack of internet helped, the people watching got me in trouble.

    I seem to do my best work late at night when everyone else (people and dogs and cats) in the house is fast asleep.

    Congratulations on the fourth book.

  5. My hometown is nearly ready to open a new enlarged library. The county made budget cuts but our small community raised over a million dollars to make it happen. I hope there is room to sit and work there. The had no working areas and only a few seat to sit and read. But like you, Haliene, I do lots of my writing late at night.

  6. I'm with you, Sue. Sure, there are distractions in the coffee shop, but you can ignore them. They have nothing to do with you, so they don't sit there nagging at you to deal with them like the unpaid bill or the trip you need directions for or the laundry/cleaning/cooking you mentioned.

    I hate writing with music or TV on, but if I'm at a coffee shop, I listen to movie soundtracks, and I can tune everything out and get tons done. :)