How Coffee Shops Can Help Your Writing

I see you there, sitting at your computer, knowing you should be working on your novel but watching cute puppy video after cute puppy video. You have your outline and you know where your story needs to go next but can’t focus on writing a single word, much less a page or a chapter or 1000 words. And so you click to the next puppy video.


Pack up your laptop, grab your headphones, and stuff your favorite notebook and pen in your bag. Get thee to the coffee shop forthwith!!

Give your brain a jolt of caffeine and inspiration. Treat yourself to your favorite pastry. Follow these easy steps to make the most of your time at the coffee shop.

  • Leave everything in your bag. No laptop. No notebook. No headphone. Nope, no music. Sorry not sorry. Savor the coffee. Enjoy every morsel of the pastry. And as you do watch and listen to the people around you. Look at their styles and play a guessing game as to what their professions are. Look at the emo kid sulking with his headphones at the corner table. Maybe he’s a millionaire running his own tech company from his bedroom in his parents’ house. Watch and listen. See and hear everything. But write nothing. Simply observe.
  • When your pastry is nothing but a few crumbs and you’ve enjoyed half of your coffee you may take out your notebook and pen. No headphones yet. Write down your thoughts and stories about the people surrounding you. Take note of snippets of conversation that you might use in a story later. Detail their quirks. Does that woman who clearly looks like a college professor stir her coffee in a way “just so”? Describe it in vivid detail.
  • You may now take out your headphones and listen to music if you would like. Continue writing in your notebook. Write about the people you see, customer and barista alike. Make up stories about them. I want you to write anything that comes to mind. It might be a short story. It might be brainstorming how to continue your novel. It might be a shopping list. It might be a character vignette. The important thing here is to keep writing. You can do this for 5-10 minutes if you have limited time, but longer will be more productive.
  • You may finally retrieve your laptop from its bag and get back to work on your novel. My only rule now is that you turn the wifi off so you’re less easily tempted by cute puppy videos.

Voila! You now have loads more character and story inspiration than you did before, you’ve pulled yourself out of the cute puppy rut, and immersed yourself back in your imagination. When you go back home you’ll have a much easier time making those words flow like honey.


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