Can you Write in Coffee Shops?

This week I read a post from the Atlantic called Working Best at Coffee Shops that got me thinking about writing in coffee shops.

I have yet to master the art of writing in coffee shops. It sounds glamourous – I know so many excellent writers did it, or do it (Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Malcom Gladwell to name a few) – but I just can’t make it work for me. On several occasions now I have taken a notebook and pen to a local coffee shop, only to end up returning home with little more than a few scribbled notes. I find that although the idea of writing in a bustling environment, surrounded by interesting people and the sweet smell of coffee sounds lovely, in practice I end up distracted and self conscious. Usually by the time I finish my first cup I’m ready to head home to my computer to get some real writing done.

I’m not giving up though! I’m taking myself on a bi-weekly artist date to a coffee shop to try and find a) the perfect place and b) the right mind set to allow me to complete some productive writing in an inspiring place.

How about you? Are you able to write in coffee shops? Where’s your favourite place to write?

Author: Carrie Mumford

Carrie Mumford is a writer and content manager living in Calgary, Alberta. She write short stories and non-fiction articles, and blogs about technology, editing, writing and (of course) books.

  • Yes–only if they’re crowded and somewhat anonymous. Small, artsy coffee shops don’t work for me because I enjoy looking around too much. And I prefer to work at home in general. The coffee shop works best when my kiddo’s at home with a babysitter and the choice is between hiding in my office and ignoring the “Mommy!” calls and heading out for some relative peace! Good luck finding a favorite retreat. There is something romantic and writerly about working in the midst of the buzzing, caffeinated world.

    • I think I need to seek out a less artsy coffee shop so that I am less distracted – great advice! I can see how having a little one at home would make coffee shop writing seem like a peaceful and anonymous retreat. Thanks for commenting!

      • Thanks for posing such an interesting question! Yes, the coffee shop vibe is impersonal compared to the “Mommy, where are you, what are you doing?” constant barrage of questions at home when I’m trying to hide and write. I’m a huge fan of artsy independent coffee shops, but that’s part of my problem when writing there! They’re too interesting. I start listening to conversations and tracking what’s going on around me.

    • It was easier to write in coffee shops when there weren’t so many people on cell phones. What used to be pleasant background noise has become intrusive.

    • I go through phases with this, largely dependent on what things are most prone to distract me at any given time. I’ve found, though – rather to my understandable distress – that in order for me to be able to work somewhere:

      – It mustn’t be fun.
      – I mustn’t be too comfy.

      The benefits of a coffee shop, as far as my experience goes, are that:

      + You usually cannot get internet (my advantage here is that my laptop is cantankerous with wireless, otherwise far fewer coffee shops would fit the spec.) removing one major source of distraction.
      + Quite often, you cannot in fact take a laptop (again, I’m at a strange advantage here as mine has no battery so needs a wall socket), meaning you have to sort out what you’re going to be writing before you go, but once you’re there it’s just you and a pad of paper, so the manifold temptations of the desktop (I’ll just make a new avatar for my blog… that’s like marketing my book by some definitions of ‘like’, and thus totally a use of writing time… whoa, that looks SWEET, totally worth the four hours…) can be left behind.
      + In a coffee shop, you cannot get up and make yourself a drink (they do that for you), have a stretch, wander around, change your clothes, tidy up, wash up, phone the guy about the fire alarms, have a quick nap etc. etc.
      + In coffee shops if you are just sitting by yourself moping, you look like a tool and people, you cannot help feeling, vaguely resent you for using up that whole table with paper then just sitting there staring at the wall. So you are obliged to buckle down and visibly be putting words in rows to justify your existence.
      + Likewise, writing allows you to avoid the irked gaze of the proprietor as you eke out that one insufficiently-pricey beverage over three hours.
      + You have to sit upright, at a hard surface – none of this ‘I’ll just get comfy on the sofa and write on the tv-dinner board- FUCK, I slept EIGHT HOURS?!’ business.

      These benefits are, of course, rather reduced if:

      – There is a perfectly set-up wireless network and all mod-cons for your computer.
      – The place is so chilled-out and arty that they really don’t mind what you do.
      – The vibe is such that everyone wants to be cool by just approaching random strangers and starting chats with them, and consequently everyone and their dog wants to stroke your ego about being a novelist.

      Those places are damn nice to go when you’re done writing, don’t get me wrong, and they maybe correspond better to some ideal about what writing in a coffee shop should be like, but if you actually want to get anything written in a coffee shop, unless your self-discipline is frankly frightening, you want:

      = A nice little greasy-spoon, taciturn, friendly enough not to kick you out (or quiet enough that they’re glad just to have someone making the place look alive).
      = Cheap enough whatever-your-preferred-drink is.
      = Nice enough whatever your preferred drink is to be palatable, not nice enough that anyone else really wants to be in there.
      = A small table in an out-of-the-way part of it.
      = Good light, bright enough to think clearly in and stay awake.


      Seriously, try that and I bet you’ll find it’s productive.

      • Hello Jay!

        Apologies if you get this reply twice, WordPress seems to be acting up on me today.

        Thank you so much for your super thorough comment! I love your +/-/= list. I think I know of a coffee shop that has the perfect environment that you describe in your “=” section. I’m going to have to try it out this week and see if it works for me.

        Thanks again for commenting, and good luck on your novel!

    • Have you ever tried the library? I haven’t yet (except for research), but I’ve heard that it can be another, quieter alternative to coffee shops.

      There’s something to be said for writing in your usual place at home though. You have everything setup like you like it, and all of your resource materials available (should you have resource materials).

  • Agreed: I can’t write in coffee shops to save my life!

    As a writer by passion and profession, I’ve always looked for other locales to exercise my craft. But in a coffee shop, I find myself too caught up in the people watching. They’re simply FASCINATING!


    • They are fascinating! I guess that’s the crux of it. Perhaps the people watching we do at coffee shops will help with our writing back at home.

  • I love writing in coffee shops! A nice cup of coffee, a comfy chair and my laptop or notebook! Many of my blogs were written in a coffee shop – Starbucks or Tim Hortons in Canada! I find the noise of people chatting and the atmosphere work great for any writer. In fact, I cannot read in a coffee shop but always able to write…
    Thanks for sharing :)

  • Exactly what are you asking? Can I write in coffee shops? Write what? That depends. If it’s a blog, I can. If it’s part of an ongoing storywriting, well, I don’t know yet.

    • You raise a good point, Sajib. Perhaps different types of writing are easier in public places. I’ve yet to try writing a blog post in a coffee shop, but perhaps that type of writing would be easier to complete in a coffee shop than creative writing.

  • Personally, I like a dark room without any distractions. Coffee shops are alright. It just depends on how “into” my own story I’m getting. If I’m at a spot where I’m totally snapped-in and I know what I want to write, it’s easy. If I’m at a spot where I need to ponder, I don’t like the distractions.

    When my kids were younger, I used to get a lot of writing done at McDonalds playland. I’d take them there and let them go crazy. You’d think the noise of the kids yelling would be a distraction, but it wasn’t. It was like having something to push my mind against. Sometimes having something to ignore helps you focus. Other times, not so much. It depends, I suppose, on how irritating the distraction is and how much you’d like to block it out. The more bothersome it is, the easier it is – up to a point of course.

    • I really like your comment about “having something to push your mind against”. I hadn’t really thought of using distractions as something that can help me focus, but I see your point. Thanks for your comment!

  • No, I can’t write anywhere where there are distractions such as people talking. You would think that since my hearing isn’t so good and most of the conversations sound “fuzzy” and individual words mostly indistinguishable that I could write; but . . . . no. I need peace and quiet to focus. There you go, one writers experience.

  • I can’t write at home. I always end up eating, sleeping or watching TV. coffee shops are the best!

  • I can’t do the coffee shop thing either. I like to write at home, in my big green chair, two white dogs along for the ride! Congrats on FP-ed–now that will be a REAL RIDE!

    • Your big green chair sounds lovely!

      I am thrilled to be Freshly Pressed! What an honour. I’m trying to keep up with comments, but if I’m slow in my response, please excuse me :)

  • I also tried to write in coffee shops, but it turned out to be a disaster. Much like you, I am too easily distracted and end up people-watching the entire time. The last time that I tried to write in a Starbucks, I typed up about 3 words, felt pretty proud of myself, and indulged in a Grande Caramel Macchiato.

    I have learned that the only way I can write is if I am completely alone for several hours, and stuck to my chair in my office at home. That’s it. Not very glamorous, huh?

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Writing alone at home might not seem very glamorous, but I try to tell myself that completing any writing at all is glamorous since so many people talk about writing but never do. In fact, I used to be one of those people :) Good luck with your writing and thanks very much for your comment!

    • Hello yingyinxue! I love coffee too – that’s one of the reasons I hope I can make writing at coffee chops work for me. I’d be able to combine two of my loves! Have a great day :)

  • In general I find it hard for me to concentrate on checking my phone messages at a coffee shop, book store cafe or any place where there are people moving about. I don’t know if is distraction or self conscientiousness; I just need to get over myself. I think you have the right idea though, keep at it. Maybe it’s something that begins to grow as your become more comfortable in the surroundings. After awhile you just get used to the movement around you and then you blend just like all the other people. I just love the romance the idea of being creative in a public place.

  • For sure not. I have tried but maybe I am too self-conscious about people looking at me or what but it never works. I end up thinking I’ll get inspiration from other people there but I usually end up surfing the web then packing up and leaving.

  • Hi Carrie –

    Unless I’m out in a coffee shop or other venue where the event or situation is unfolding in the present, my creativity works best sheltered at home on my at my desk. As you stated, there are too many distractions. Good post and have a nice Thursday. :)

  • Sometimes I do my best book reviews at a coffee shop. It gets me out of my apartment and into an environment that, like you said, is filled with the sweet smell of coffee. Nice post!

  • I love working in coffee shops! But I’m picky about what kind of coffee shops I go to. I can’t work in one where they serve food items (basic muffins and bagels are fine but I don’t want to smell grease when I’m working thank you)

  • I can do that. I do that almost every weekend. I actually look forward to going to coffee shop every week to sit down and write. I have a favorite spot in the veranda of my favorite Starbucks branch located in the 3rd floor of a bookstore. Sometimes I get distracted by the people, especially the smokers (I don’t like smoke) or the cars and people passing by. I usually just bring my journal to write and very rare that I take a laptop with me. I don’t really like the idea of working on a laptop in the coffee shop, I would just end up browsing sites (reading blogs or some online articles). :) Btw, nice blog!

  • I like coffee shops because of the external interest. If you hear snippets of conversations that are enjoyable, use them or let them lead you somewhere. It may not be the best place to go if you’re set in exactly what you want to write and just need to pump out some words, but if you’re looking for inspiration, give it another try!

  • For a long time now I have had terrible writers block. Everything I put down on paper feels forced and when I look back at it, it just looks wrong and ugly (the best way I can describe it). I am beginning the think that it may be my home writing environment (dog, cats, distractions, etc.).

    I don’t have “my own” writing place – a place I can go to be free of distractions. I am starting to think that a place other than home might just be perfect for me, at least for right now. I know things won’t get any easier with a baby on the way so outside of the house is looking better and better for writing.

    I live in Brooklyn and have written on the subway before (no problems there). I read on the subway and in coffee shops and am able to loose myself in the material at these place easier than home so perhaps I have answered my own dilema.

  • I find that I can only write in a cafe where there is minimal talking, and instrumental music (no words, I find listening to words and writing words conflict quite well for me). For the most part, the bubbling of my aquarium and some classical music is all the stimulus I need for the copy that flows. I haven’t done it, but good writers have setup shop in pubs at times during the day, when people aren’t so thirsty yet. Let us know when you find that perfect balance…write on!!

    • I hadn’t thought about the type of music playing at the coffee shop affecting my writing, but you raise a valid point. I’m going to have to add that into my coffee house evaluations. Thanks very much for your comment!

  • Congratulations on being freshly pressed! :)
    Great post. I do write in coffee shops. Sometimes alone, sometimes with others. Sitting there with a netbook makes me feel less Hemingwayesque, but I get more work done. But I’ll admit that it’s distracting when suddenly, in the middle of the most action packed scene, the speakers in the place suddenly blare out something mellow.

  • wow,… wow,.. wow,… if it’s about coffee i’ll write.
    coffee itself is an inspiration. coffee is human history.
    coffee shop is part of human being history.
    i can imagine government concept,… radical movement,… philosophy,… rebelion,… daily life until war is conected with a caffe, a coffee house.
    you can write or not in a coffee shop it’s depend on you mind to see the world and words itself.

    please check my blog about a unique coffee.
    note: i write it with a cup of coffee!! :)

  • I normally write at home, usually in the same spot so I suppose I agree with the comment saying it’s easier when you have everything set up already. However the idea of writing in a coffee shop is awfully appealing so maybe I’ll try someday soon when I know it’s alright even if I don’t get much done. The last time I tried studying in a coffee shop and then the university library, it didn’t work out for me. Somehow just couldn’t get into the studying mood with all that fun stuff around me. Maybe writing will be different though. Best of luck to you then, update us if you find a secret code to make it work ; )

  • Coffee shop writing doesn’t work for me at all. I just can’t seem to get into the flow there– I keep thinking stuff like: “I’m writing in a coffee shop. I wonder if people can see what I’m writing? How much longer should I stay here? Am I staring out into space too much?” I really have a hard time writing unless I’m alone. If my husband is home and watching TV or playing a video game, I’m really easily distracted by it unless I put on headphones, in which case I tell him “I’m putting on headphones,” but he usually talks to me anyway and I have to keep taking them off. Lol.

  • I write all the time in coffee shops. Actually is the only place I can really focus and get a good amount of it done. I can’t stand writing at Starbucks, most of the time the vibe there is just wrong. Right now, Crazy Mochas in the Pittsburgh area have had the best vibes.

    • Great point about the ‘vibe’ in the shop Nicholas. I too have tried writing in Starbucks, but it was on a busy Saturday afternoon, so the vibe was definitely not conducive to writerly pursuits. If I’m ever in Pittsburgh, I’ll be sure to visit Crazy Mochas. Thanks for commenting!

  • Oh, this is the dreaded question, one I’ve blogged about too! I can’t! I’m way too distracted! I have two local B&N stores and I’ve tried both of them at different times, and that didn’t work — that was during the week. When I went on the weekend, that was so much worse. Teenagers were there treating the peaceful environment like a place to see and be seen, carrying their high-priced Apple computers, iPhones, along with any other iElectironics with them! I had had enough one day, and when I came home, I ended up writing 20 pages, with the interruptions of the hubby and cat.

    Great blog post!

    • Thanks for your comment Isabella! Would you be able to post a link to your blog post about writing in coffee shops? I’d love to read it!

  • I never used to be able to write in coffee shops. Like you, I would go and try to force myself to for the glamor of it, but couldn’t get any work done. That was back in college. Recently, however, I’ve had to figure out a way to do it because of time and schedule constraints. I was dreading this change, but it all worked out fantastically; I’m getting more done in my couple of hours of coffee shop writing then I ever would at home at that same time of the day. Of course, I use headphones and music to block out the noise, but something about being stuck in the shop, leaves me no choice but to write.

  • My best writing takes place away from home.. or in other words, outside of my comfort zone.

    I do enjoy writing — at work, and at coffee shops. I like the quiet, silent utterings of my mind (keys to computer, pen to notebook) in contrast to the noisiness around me. It’s inspiring, and enables me to focus better (somehow..).

    Aun Aqui

    • Hello Aun!

      You’re the second person to mention that having distractions around you helps you to focus. I’m guessing that this is either not an art I have mastered yet, or just two different styles of concentration. Best of luck with your writing!

  • I only find time to write under difficult circumstances. There is never a quiet moment for me, it seems. The hustle and bustle of a coffee shop would sound like silence to me. If I had the time and opportunity I’d like to give it a try – preferably upon a Parisian street.

  • Yes, it just takes a while. I think I started back in 1984 when I lived in Santa Fe… used to go to the Galisteo News Stand and sit and write upstairs. I remember a woman with short dark hair was there on occasion doing the same thing and we talked about the whole writing thing in coffee shops. Turned out it was Natalie Goldberg.
    Since then I’ve continued writing… notebooks and now on laptop. Those are two different processes and usually I like to go to Drip Coffee here in Dallas. Restaurants are good too if you go at off-hours when it’s not crowded. It just takes time and practice, but I’ve always enjoyed doing it. Have fun! – Craig

    • Hi Craig,

      I have to say, I’m wildly jealous that you got to have a coffee shop chat with Natalie Goldberg. That is one more reason to hang out in coffee shops: you never know who you might run into.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Writing in a coffee shop or at bookstore coffee shop, reminds me of that Family Guy episode–where they make fun of writers who do just that. (Yes, I am a serious writer who enjoys Family Guy now and then!)

    “…sitting out in public so everyone can see me writing my big screenplay”
    “Me too, all real writers need to be seen out in public, otherwise what’s the point?”
    “You should totally write that down!”
    “Okay, will you watch me?”

    But I don’t write in public. My favorite place to write is in my house…and I change my spot about every two or three days, have a pillow under my rear to avoid those nasty pains in my coccyx and always next to a window.

    • Ha! You’ve hit on something that bothers me about writing at coffee shops. I hate the feeling that others are looking at me thinking that I’m thinking that I’m a big deal, writing the great Canadian novel. Of course, in all likelihood, if anyone even notices that I’m writing, they probably think, “That girl is writing”. Really I should be concentrating on writing that great Canadian novel rather than worrying about what everyone in the coffee shop is thinking about. I guess that’s self consciousness at it’s best right there! Hopefully that helps my writing somehow :)

      Thanks for commenting!

  • I LOVE writing in coffee shops. But I can’t do it without a few key elements.

    First of all, bring your headphones. I love listening to movie soundtracks or other music (usually without any lyrics) while I write. It helps remove a huge portion of the distractions around you at a coffeeshop. Secondly, use the people around you to your advantage. They provide awesome inspiration for free-writing or quirky characters! Lastly, get comfortable. Pick a comfortable chair, wear your favorite outfit, and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your favorite drink and be inspired.
    Good luck with your writing!

  • Funny how I feel so completely opposite than what you’ve experienced. I typically do my best writing at a coffee shop (or generally out-and-about). Too many distractions if I stay home, odd as that sounds.

    When I’m out I feel like I’m “at work” and will get something accomplished.

  • Congratulations at being Freshly Pressed!
    I’m not good at writing when there are distractions; I write much better when I’m in a quiet place, normally the sofa in our dining room snuggled up under blanket whatever the weather’s doing outside! Otherwise, I find I’m waffling for England! Outside of London we don’t have such a coffee shop culture; they’re more for gossiping and drinking coffee than for working in. I find them useful as a people watching opportunity where I gather inspiration for future creative projects!

  • Writing in coffee shops in general is difficult for me. If I find the right coffee shop, though? Writing heaven! Since becoming a mom, it’s harder for me to find the time off to make it happen, but I savor each chance–like the one I got last Sunday!–all the more for it.

    I can’t answer the question about where I usually write on the grounds it’ll incriminate me. ;)

  • I would like to be able to concentrate better at home, but for some things, I need to be at a coffee shop. The distractions at home are far more time-consuming than anything I find at a coffee shop. But it also depends on what I’m doing. If I am working on something that I like but isn’t going well at the moment, I need a more significant distraction (usually cleaning) to let my mind wander, which usually helps me settle whatever problem was bothering me with the piece.

    If I’m working on something that I need to just hammer out, then I’ll go to a coffee shop because I feel more motivated to stay put and work. I have to grade papers, for example, in a coffee shop. I might look around from time to time, but these are minute-long distractions, not half-hour-long distractions. I feel like if I’ve left the comfort of my house, it should result in some productivity!

    And it has to be a coffee shop. The silence in a library, oddly enough, is way too loud for me. I need some kind of bustle around me.

    The only thing is that I can’t work in a coffee shop without my iPod. People will distract me in an annoying way. I’ll fixate on one loud-chewer, or a whiny child, or someone else’s music leaking from their ear buds…and it will drive me insane. Jazz usually works best – no music but consistent volume (unlike classical, which varies too much for this purpose).

    • “The distractions at home are far more time-consuming than anything I find at a coffee shop.” Same for me. Now that I have a little one, my to-do list always involves at least 128 hours of work. Compared to the amount of time I have to actually chip away at the list? That’s more than a little daunting.

      If I sit down to write at home, I find myself wondering, “How long would it take to do [x]?” or “Is this really more important than [y]?” Removing myself to another setting is an important part of freeing myself to focus on the writing, away from people and tasks that don’t require any hands-on effort from me.

  • I can’t write in coffeeshops either…something about the high of caffeine and the bustling of people is too distracting! I find myself feeling nervous, as if everyone in the coffeeshop is waiting to see what I will write! My favorite place to write is a on a quiet deck, with my own cup of coffee. Good luck on your quest, though…it does sound glamorous doesn’t it?

  • I cannot :( When I was an undergrad I would try and write or study in coffee shops and other public places, and I would get absolutely nothing done. It always made me feel horrible about all the time I had wasted, and so I just gave up that dream, haha

  • Definitely too many distractions. I have to get in that “zone” where the world slips away and I am floating somewhere inside myself. I am also very self-conscious in this space because I’m so sweetly “zoned-out.” I remember getting in this same space as a child playing the piano and since my brothers and sisters knew how focused I was, they would sneak up on me and scare the life (and a blood-curdling scream) out of me. So I’m a little gun-shy!! :)

  • Maybe if you were far from home, seeking to absorb you surroundings with the smell of the roasted coffee beans and the background music tripping through valleys with Pandora, you would LOVE coffee shops as I do. I find it so interesting to see who gathers there…the conversations struck up and the valuable insights into the culture I am inhaling with every breath. I feel inspired, appreciative (to be travelling, writing, tasting, greeting)…I choose each one according to what I am writing about (my travel or food blogs or short story or poem), how I want to feel and if I am beckoning happenchance or not. When I am not travelling, I’ve a favourite place by a window in my house, where I curl up my legs on the sofa and write whilst sipping steaming green tea from a green glass cup and saucer…

    • Ha! It sounds like a terrible curse to hate the smell of coffee, but only be able to write in coffee shops. Maybe you can find a tea house? I know there are a few popping up in Canadian cities now.

  • I think my room it’s a good place ..
    when I want to write story or any thing , I like to sit there..
    I can’t write out home. just in the sea or in the garden .
    becuase , any coffe shop here in saudi arabia you will find it very noisy .
    so , I dislike it and can’t write any thing there .
    thank you ..

  • Good question! I can’t write in coffee shops at all. I’m very easily distracted and a natural eavesdropper. I prefer to write late at night or very early in the morning when everyone in my house is asleep. :)

  • Enjoyed your post. I can take good notes in coffee shops, diners – I find it helpful to be in a place where there are other people but they’re not so interested in what I’m doing (i.e. I’m not at home!). It works best if I’ve just got a notepad and pen. I’ve tried the laptop but found it too much of a hassle, and felt self-conscious as well. Writing by hand often helps my creativity.

    • I too find that writing by hand can have a big impact on what’s hitting the page. I try to write morning pages by hand every day (an idea I got from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). Thanks for commenting, and good luck with your second novel!

  • I can and do regularly. I find it’s best for ideas: planning out chapters/plots/character development; I then do the ‘proper’ lengthy writing in a quiet place.

    I do love a coffee shop where people are speaking in a foreign language. There is all of the hustle and bustle but you can’t actually get fully distracted by the conversation.

  • Yes I participated in NaNoWriMo this last season (and completed it yay!) and the only way I could do it was if I was away from home, which sent me to coffee shops. We have our regular Starbucks which I enjoy because of my Gold Card, and I also visited two other local coffee shops. One closed late and served Italian-esque food, the other had limited hours but live music.
    I need to go revisit a coffee shop, I have another contest I’m attempting. Thanks!

  • I can and do write in coffee shops that are comfortable..but I do it for awhile ..maybe a couple of weeks and then change location..I use my iPad for notes so it is easy….one fav spot is sitting on my bed..depends on the day..the mood..

  • Yes, I can and do write in coffee shops. Actually my writers group reserves the back room at our local Starbucks once a week. I’m always in there doing edits, or just hanging out. I’ve made friends with the baristas over the last two years. They’ve got good insight into people’s character. And if you look around you can see all sorts of fun characters.

    Other good places I’ve found to write are libraries, airports, boats, and mall galleries.

    Write on.


    • Thanks very much for the pingback Darlene!

      I had considered writing at the library, and have done some writing while waiting for planes, but never on a boat or in a mall gallery.

  • I never tried writing anything in a coffee shop, not if it involves articulating my raw ideas. I get distracted and even feel lazy when I start sitting down drinking coffee. I prefer to stay home in my room with the lamp on and perhaps some music playing. It’s a pretty awesome scenario to be able to write in a coffee shop like the writers you mentioned, but work where you are most with yourself and can really focus on your piece, and you will do a good piece. =)

  • I can not write in coffee shops. I’m too distracted by the hot guys coming and going and I’m constantly watching the door to see if any weirdo’s come in to “stick up” the joint. Coffee shops are for drinking coffee and meeting blind dates, that’s it!

    I like to write in the comfort of my own apt. I can crank the music if I like to put me in the state of mine I need to be in for the script I’m writing or I can have complete and utter silence to let my mine wonder.

  • Being that I’m still only a sophomore and don’t have my license, I don’t go out much for two reasons. One, I don’t have a job yet and that means lack of spending money for coffee etc. Two, I don’t have a way to get to the coffee shops.
    However I work pretty well in a busy environment, read, write, homework, it doesn’t matter. I’m the oldest of 7 kids so I learned well to work that way, in front of TV, while listening to music, you name it, I’ve probably done it. Funny thing is, I still get just as much done in a quiet area so really for me, it’s whether or not my computer is around to distract me when I come to a tough sentence.

  • I take myself on artist dates to the IHOP. I order, then I write a little bit. Then I eat, then I write a little bit. I also do well reading in that situation. Our local Perkins and McDonald’s both have Dr. Pepper and WiFi so those are ideal if I want to write on my computer/blog. Personally, I write best at my desk at work. But that’s not my job.

    I really have a hard time writing at home. I find far more distractions there. The dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming…you know.


  • I like editing a lot in coffee shops. I print out a couple chapters, read them through, and edit. The people keep me focused enough actually. I haven’t had much opportunity to write in coffee shops, but I tend to like it. Whenever my family goes to Panera, I want to slip away with my computer, sit, and write. But then again, when I need real focus, I always grab coffee, turn off my internet, and write. (It worked really well when I had a college paper to write, I knew all the information, and I couldn’t focus without doing that upstairs in the library.)

  • First, let me say that if working in coffee shops is too stimulating for you, there’s no need to push yourself. You seem to enjoy the sights and sounds, but rarely appreciate the effect on your writing. Perhaps you would do well to Tweet or catch up on Facebook posts in the coffee shop, or even just find images there to weave together later in the quiet and privacy of your writing space.

    I personally love working in cafes, but that’s because I distract myself at home with other things to do. I do find that sitting in a cluster of laptops helps me stay more focused than sitting amongst game players or friends catching up. If you do decide to keep trying to find a coffee shop where you can get writing done, “look for your nook,” that simulates your writing comfort zone. That might help.


    • Thanks for the advice Julianne. I think I am not yet ready to let go of the idea of writing from a coffee shop at least occasionally, but your post and many others here have made me realize that certain types of writing may be better suited to coffee shops. Checking Twitter and catching up on emails or drafting blog posts seem like they may be doable. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I’ve never been able to write in coffee shops but I admire those who can. I get too self-conscience, as though I’m not really a writer, but am pretending to be one.
    My best place to write is at home, between midnight and 3 am, which I don’t get to do anymore, not with a full-time job and an even more full-time baby. Now it’s the Brooklyn Writers’ Space, Sat & Sun mornings from 7 – 11 am. I’m not a morning person. It’s hard. But necessary.

  • I love going into coffee shops to watch people, and I find that it inspires thoughts and ideas, but–NO WAY, could I write with all that energy and distraction around me. I need quiet solitude, my lap top, and a pad of paper to write.

    Congrats for being published on Freshly Pressed!

  • There’s no one way to write a novel, as Kipling said. Coffee shops work for me because my steam-powered laptop can’t connect with the Internet at a coffee shop. And I’m not about to figure out how to do it. It’s just me and what I’m writing. I find, though, that only certain coffee shops work, usually the ones with living-room style furniture and a barista who plays my kind of music. Family-oriented places won’t work. Coffee shops work better in the rain than in the sun, at night rather then by day, in the evening rather than in the morning. That’s how it works for me. Even better than coffee shops: libraries! I can really get lost in my writing there. I write at home but there are so many distractions to cope with. The occasional road trip fires me up. Back before Starbucks transformed the world, a writer friend of mine wrote all night at Denny’s….I have to wonder how much writing Hemingway accomplished at a coffee shop. I suspect he spent more time holding court. Thanks for the question!

  • I actually feel more distracted at my desk at home because I have so much stuff cluttered around and so many things on my schedule that I overwhelm myself. I can be distracted at a coffee shop, too, but it’s not as severe. I plug in my iPod to something lyric-less and zone out to what I want to write. Honestly, Starbucks isn’t a bad place to go to write, but usually I change it up; I’ll swing over to a coffee shop a friend works at in South Eugene or I’ll head to the north end and relax at Borders. It usually just depends on my mood and on how clear my idea of what to write about is.
    But good luck on making the effort to convert to coffee shop writing and congrats on FP!

  • I do not write novels. When I try to work in a coffee-shop, I am too tempted to listen to what other people are talking about. It is fascinating! Looking at other people trying to guess who they are, what they like – is so much more interesting than work.

  • The major problem with coffee shops is that they are a social place. Once you start seeing faces a few times, you start making friends and then your annonymity is destroyed and your new friends are wonderful distractions from working.

  • I don’t think coffee shops are conducive for writing. However, they are a great place for gaining ideas. Little bits of overheard conversation in a public place is great fodder for character development.

  • I’m working on the last half of my dissertation, and I have found that I work well in different ways in three different locations. In my home office, I can answer e-mails and root through binders and binders worth of research in order to flag the pertinent information that I’ll incorporate later. At the university library (in a nice, private little room I like to call Grad Study Nirvana–only faculty and graduate students can use it and it’s sound-proof), I write the bulk of my new chapters incorporating that research that I had flagged at home earlier. And at my favorite local coffee shop (not too artsy and definitely not Starbucks–well, a little artsy, but I find the art to be motivating and not distracting), I conduct my revisions based on comments from my committee. I also grade student papers there. In fact, I’m about to finish my lunch and head to the coffee shop in about half an hour in order to grade a handful of essays and work on revisions on another chapter.

    I think for me what finally clicked was realizing that writing is a significant process. There’s the brainstorming, the organizing, the actual composition, and the editing. (Ah, I make it sound so easy…heh.) I think we writers like to imagine that the process is a sort of one-and-done deal–it’s at least very difficult for me to imagine Hemingway or Faulkner or Tolkien ever having drafts or notes or revisions. Sacrilege! Surely the moment they set pen to paper, it was pure and utter publishable genius! And then, I give myself a little reality check.

    Maybe you don’t like to compose the bulk of your work in a coffee shop. It’s too busy, too loud, too distracting. Whatever it is, it doesn’t work for you. So, fine. Maybe instead you like to use coffee shops to brainstorm. Or gather ideas in general for future works. When I was an undergraduate, I had a professor who would make a habit of sitting in a corner of a local coffee shop with a pad of paper, a pen, and a voice recorder, and he’d intentionally eavesdrop. He wouldn’t even act like he was doing anything else. He’d stare right at the people he was eavesdropping on and copy down their conversations. Then he’d go home and turn those conversations into stories or incorporate them somehow into works already in progress. It used to creep me out when I was young and naive about the writing process, but now (after having realized one of his published works of fiction) I realize that I was studying at the feet of a master.

    Bottom line: forgive yourself your process, find what works, embrace it even if it’s different (especially if it’s different), and be happy that you’re composing at all! :)

    (Also, congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! That’s exciting!)

    • Wow – thank you so much for such a long and thoughtful comment, Mrs. H.!

      Your former professor sounds like a real character. I don’t know if I have in it me to transpose full conversations like he did, but I’m definitely going to try and overhear some interesting snippits on my next coffee shop adventure. Good luck with your dissertation!

  • i spend the weekend mornings in my kitchen typing alone and then i print out what i’ve done and edit in a coffee shop. i feel that, for myself, bringing a laptop to an outside place is a bit too far. i like that the division of computer time = home; outside time = book, paper.

    i think i could do it though. i’m good at blocking people out.

    • Hello Old Bent Nail!

      My inbox is flooded, but I LOVE all of the comments! They’re so much fun to read!

      I didn’t delete your comment as I think people would be very interested in your friend’s blog about writing in coffee shops, but I will include your corrected link below if that works for you? Otherwise, would you be willing to re-post with the corrected link?

      From Old Bent Nail:

      “Hi again . . . please delete last comment. I did not get the URL code right. If you are interested, copy and paste: thanks, and sorry!”

  • This cracked me up. I have tried many times to write in coffee shops etc. to no avail. I am so distracted it never works, although I always have a great time. I thought I would try the library. HA! That is the loudest place in town now I think. Great place to people watch. I hope you find the perfect place. Blessings, Christa

  • I try to write in coffee shops. Unfortunately the places I tend to go are so crowded with like-minded writers, students, and random others that finding a seat is often hard to do! Once I get in the groove of it though, I find it helpful to be out in public. Sometimes the distractions are helpful, giving me ideas.

    I’ve also been known to write on my iPad on the subway to work. It may sound strange, but I’ve written so many blog posts on my commute!

    • You know, several people have mentioned they like to write during their commutes. It’s something I hadn’t considered before, but what a great way to use that otherwise wasted time! I used to have a horrendous commute (2 hrs each way), and when I think back now I wonder why I didn’t use that time for writing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • If I’m hiding in a corner with sound-blocking headphones… perfect. But otherwise it can be a good test of Zen Buddhism (meditating out the world’s barrage of distractions) to get work done in a bustling place.

  • I can write outlines like crazy in coffee shops. For sketching out ideas, coffee shops are by far the most productive spot on earth for me. Somehow the opportunity to look up and see other humans lets me fill up yellow sheets with ideas and concepts, and then place those ideas in order. But when it comes to turning those outlined ideas into real prose, I have to go somewhere with more quiet and fewer distractions.

  • No coffee shop writing for me. I like my nice quiet office at home. But I love people watching (and eavesdropping on their conversations) in coffee shops and other public places and always carry a notebook with me in case I get a great idea to add to the novel I’m working on.

  • I love coffee shops. The people, the smell, the overall atmosphere. I have found that it is often easiest for me to write/read/get work done when I go alone, put headphones in, and plan to take a break or two in between to simply observe. Without the false expectation that I will work non-stop while enjoying a great cup of coffee, I find it to be much more satisfying… And while the coffee grinder and clanging of a spoon stirring in the cream and sugar are pleasant sounds, they are not the best when trying to concentrate – hence the headphones.

  • Negative. I absolutely cannot write in a coffee shop. The best I could do once was studying for an exam in college, but that’s it. Though it’s an exciting and inspiring atmosphere, there is almost too much going on at once. Instead of focusing on one specific thing to write, I’d pick up on different conversations, interactions, and order choices that I’d ponder for a little too long. But I hope that your artist date will wield something fruitful. Excellent post!

  • The only places I can write are in my sunroom at home (anywhere else in my house is too distracting) or in a coffee shop. It’s odd that at home I need total silence and focus but I can also be just as successful in a busy coffee shop.

    Well great, now I’ve got a craving for a steaming latte and a chocolate croissant!

    • I’ve had that problem all day Sarah! All this talk of coffee has made me want to head straight to my local cafe and order a vanilla latte and a chocolate dipped scone (or an oat cake, or a piece of cake). Thanks for your comment!

  • Can’t write in coffee shops..I’m a coffee-holic and the aroma is so overwhelming I can’t focus on the keyboard……Not to mention there is an abundance of folks taking over the big comfy chairs and setting up offices only to monopolize tables for hours on end …annoying..

    give me the comfort of my own noisy home flooded with teen drama, hubby nonsense, and mutt madness……

    spread the

  • It is true that it sounds good in theory but I don’t like to write around any other people, it is too distracting. Coffee and writing are two of my favorite things but they don’t blend together so well for me. I loved your post though.

  • I also thought it glamorous to be sipping on a latte or frappuccino ina high-end coffee shop and writing…..then, when I become famous, I can say that I wrote my entire work in a coffee shop. (It just sounds so much more glamorous than saying I write on my home computer while still wearing my pajamas!)

    But the reality is that I can never seem to do this. Everytime I do go, I end up people watching. But like you, I still keep on trying….:) …if anything it gives me a valid excuse to indulge in a declicious hot treat!

  • I can never be productive at home because there are just too many unwanted distractions. Whenever I have to write a paper, I go to a coffee shop that’s not as crowded as other shops.

  • I think the coffee shop might serve me well if I am looking to escape my normal routine, and household distractions (laundry piles, etc.) to find some inspiration for a new blog post, or to brainstorm ideas.
    However, I think I would have to be in just the right frame of mind for it to work, or else I also spend too much time people-watching, and too little time writing.
    Great post and Great thoughts!

  • I love writing in coffee shops! I greatly look forward to days when I have enough time to set up camp in Starbucks and type away for hours. It can be distracting from time to time, yes, but honestly I find it refreshing to be distracted by something other than the internet or my loudly snoring boyfriend. Sometimes I can even draw creative inspiration from the strangers around me, people watching is one of the greatest pleasures of writing in public. Well, that, and the endless coffee refills (thank you Starbucks Rewards program).

    I do have a home office, but I love a change of scenery from time to time and a coffeehouse is just about perfect for me.

  • I don’t do the coffee shops. I don’t know. They seem passé and like you’re trying too hard to look “cool.”

    Bed. That’s where I usually write. :-)

    Congratulations on being FP!

  • I used to write in coffee shops, but it became too distracting. Now I just go for coffee, and to surf the Internets.

    As the song goes:
    “You want to be a writer
    But you don’t know how or when
    Find a quiet place
    Use a humble pen…” (Paul Simon, “Hurricane Eye”)

  • I would if I could find ANY that don’t have free wi-fi. In Minneapolis, that’s hard to find – and the internets are so, so, so, so very distracting, alas.

    Now I go to the library where you have to enter your card number in order to log on – and I leave my card at home.

  • I’m most comfortable at home when I’m wearing a grungy t-shirt and pajama pants (or no pants at all). Can’t quite get away with that in a coffee shop!

    I love the aroma of coffee beans, but I can also replicate the smell in my kitchen. I would be too concerned about how I look in public to concentrate effectively in a coffee shop. Also I make strange faces when I’m in deep concentration – another reason to be self conscious :)

  • It seems writing in a coffee shop (unless you’re Hemingway in Paris) is so cliche. I’m a big fan of the kitchen table in a clean, organized apartment–in total silence or Tchaikovsky lingering in the background.

  • I still have yet to to master the art of writing in a coffee shop. Dunno, maybe my home office is just too comfortable to push me out the door.

  • I love to write in the coffee shop. Until I have to go to the bathroom. Then I have to go home. And make my own dang coffee.

  • I find that if you stay put in the coffee shop, and push yourself through that awkward feeling, you can get some great writing done. I would even suggest writing about the awkwardness! :)

  • I don’t remember writing at a coffe shop, but I do write at the train! xD I know it’s absolutely different, but it’s also crowded and noisy! Sometimes, I feel I’ve got no privacy at all, though.

    Next time I head to a coffe shop on my own, I’ll definitely try to write! ;)

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  • I love sitting in coffee shops and I have on occasion taken a jotter with me but I do get too way laid with people watching. People fascinate me.

  • I’ve tried it before. . . it never really worked out. Now, I’ve done research in coffee shops when my home Internet craps out and I can leech off Starbucks’ free Wi-Fi, but no real writing.

  • Congrats on being freshly pressed. My favorite place to write is in my office or in my “prayer chair” at home. I have written at the coffee shop but I always feel like I am taking up a table too long.

    • Hello Jelillie! I have had the same feeling before – the feeling that you’ve taken up space longer than your coffee and scone will cover for. From all of the fantastic comments I’re read today, I think this problem might be solved by heading to the coffee shop at the right time of day (if your schedule permits), and finding the right coffee shop (one that doesn’t mind lingering writers). Thanks for your comment, and good luck with your writing!

  • I can’t do it. Usually I end up writing about all the freaks around me who are “writing” and then some freak decides they are going to talk to me about writing. Writing is a lonely business, there is no way around it.

  • Hi Carrie. As a day-creeping writer with a restaurant evening job in Chicago, I sometimes just need to get OUT of my apartment. While I have several options, the more chill of my neighborhood Caribous is where I usually roost. To be successful when I venture out, I need to have a PLAN of action to keep me focused. I also don’t bother going through the process of hooking up to the Wi-Fi, cos that’s what gets me in trouble at home. Like now. Heh. :-) Best to you! Cheers.

    • Thanks for stopping by (even if it was causing you trouble by keeping you from your writing :)

      A plan sounds like a great idea. All of these comments have given me a long list of tactics to try for my next coffee shop visit! Thanks for your adding yours Michael!

  • I enjoy writing in Starbucks@Regents Street…In the basement. It’s quiet enough and there’s loads of interesting people there. You know the type where you just want to walk up and start a conversation. The environment is artsy and inspiring so I take out my notebook and write. I develop this false sense of importance about myself and hope that with notebook in hand people who may notice me may assume I am important too. LOL! But I can write anywhere just not about anything though!

  • coffee shops are great in the right mindset! but id rather have my bedroom mirror and dry erase marker. thats when the thoughts flood from within on to the mirror. computers are good but i get distracted by the internet like you do in coffee shops. good luck!

  • I personally like to write in coffee shops. I write a journal or blog and in home I’m more distracted by things I need to do and when it comes to that I’m usually too tired to write something that pleases me. So I’m all in for writing in coffee shops or other public places. For example I found out that writing in a museum is quite enjoyable.

  • I’m amazed – I get my best work done in coffee shops and I never occurred to me that there are people who can’t write in coffee shops! It’s my favourite place to write, because I need the hustle and bustle of people around me in order to focus my thoughts – backwards, isn’t it? What I want to know is, how does anyone get any writing done at home??

  • Great articles on this topic. I’ve found that, for some reason, I’m much better off writing essays and blog posts at cafes, while I need to be at home to write fiction works such as screenplays. This might be because fiction works take up a different part of my brain, and I need to be completely alone to get into that mode of storytelling. Yet, the rest of my nonfiction writing I prefer to write in coffee / tea shops. I usually go to one of the Argo Tea locations in Chicago because it’s never really too loud/bustling.

  • Coffee shops abroad work for me, but none of these Starbucks/Coffee Bean places make me feel inspired. Perhaps it’s my inability to speak another language, I feel very isolated.

    Trains are lovely places to write. So are train stations. People in constant motion, so distracting but nothing is in place long enough to maintain the distraction. Like flowing water. Rivers of life.

    yes. yes.

  • Personally, I find coffee shops often to be exactly what I need to jump into writing. I often feel distracted or unproductive at home, and taking myself to a coffee shop and treating myself to a latte is usually enough to will myself into writing or working productively and efficiently.

  • I never had much luck writing in coffee shops because the sound of the blender is a bit distracting for me. My favorite place to write – on my front porch at night. It’s very peaceful!

  • “ the idea of writing in a bustling environment, surrounded by interesting people and the sweet smell of coffee sounds lovely, in practice I end up distracted and self conscious.”

    But is that necessarily the idea? My first reaction would be that a) “bustling” is the last thing I would want if trying to write, b) why would anyone want to drink coffee under such circumstances?

    Instead, the image that appears before me when I think of writing in a coffee shop (something I have not tried, mind you), is a near empty cafe, an charming, but unintrusive, waitress, possibly some not-too-loud sounds from the street, and (obviously) the coffee it self. This, I suspect, would work far better for writing.

  • i’m like you, i tend to get very distracted in coffee shops. or at parks, or at home, or… i have found that writing in the local library can work. if you get a table in a quiet corner, it can actually be a great place to get some writing done. just don’t even start to look at the books on the shelves or you’ll find yourself reading instead! :)

  • As co-author a Kindle UK best-seller I can vouch one hundred per cent for writing in coffeee bars.

    I didn’t keep a count of just how many lattes I got through, but doubt my half of the royalties has covered the costs yet!

  • I have tried it once. And managed two poems. I will have to try it again some time as I quite enjoyed it.

    I mainly write at night though. Its quiet and for some reason it just works with me. It may also be subconsciously affecting my writing. I did not think so at first, but then I noticed the “Night” tag getting steadily larger in size.

  • Funny….. I never intend to write in the coffee shop. I usually go in for coffee and to read whatever I find around. I also find it very relaxing to just sit and sip and not drive and gulp :). BUT, I always end up writing some of my best stuff on napkins and then lose them in my purse and find them again a month or two later! Cool read.

  • I used to read in quiet bars and that took some getting used to; however the best thing is to go into a coffee shop and just buy coffee, sit there and relax with a journal contemplating life, universe etc. and then wait until something comes and then write even if its complete garbage don’t force yourself to write in those situations never works constructively.

  • Writing in a coffee shop depends on my task. Or maybe it just depends on how I’m feeling about the project. Either way, I have good days and bads.

    Sometimes the anonymity of being in a public place and all the noise helps me to buckle down and concentrate and other days nothing will do but the silence of my bedroom. But usually a public place is what I need to drown out my own thoughts and procrastinations which can easily overwhelm me. Music, though. Never music. It’s impossible for me to think with too much music.

  • That’s seems much interesting. But alas . got no coffee shop near by. What we have here little tea shops which are basically some hut and we call them ‘tong’. It’s much of a place of getting idea than writing. peace out

  • when i read the title of blog i thought you were asking if its all right to write in coffee shops…
    well in India most of the coffee shops are so crowded that you gotta finish your cup fast to make room for others to sit. else the waiter presents you the bill or keeps asking if you want something else..
    happens in cafe coffee day and barista..
    i prefer sitting at my desk and being left alone… allows me to think more..
    n congrats for being freshly pressed and having so many follow-up comments.

  • Mostly, as much as I would like to write in coffee shops with its perfect ambiance and aroma, it just takes a lot of concentration to be able to write a full article. As you said, I’d like to try my luck again and go back there to write..

    Good one! Congrats on being featured at freshly pressed, it brought me here ;)

  • I’ve only tried to write in coffee shops during NaNoWriMo ‘write-ins’. That works fine – mostly through peer pressure. ;) If everyone else is writing, well, I gotta write too.
    By myself, I don’t think it’d work so well. I’ve recently noticed how much depends on how comfortable I am in a place – I first noticed it in regards to talking to people: at work, I can chat and joke with customers, no problem at all. But anywhere else, talking to a stranger is really really hard. And writing, I’m just realizing, isn’t so different from talking to people – to do it well, thoughts need to flow freely, I need to let out whatever pops into my mind, not desperately try to think of what should come next. Being in a group of fellow writers I know and like, that’s easy – they make me forget where I am. But alone in a coffee shop, no way – I couldn’t get comfortable and relaxed enough.

  • I can’t write in them either. My favorite place to write is at work. Shhh, don’t tell my boss. That’s when my wheels start turning and I can write my best stuff.

  • Writing in a coffee shop is very fascinating. It is as if you are entering a different realm where you are on your own and at the same time surrounded by a multitude of strangers.

  • Don’t give too much attention if you are successful at writing in coffee shops or not, just because some others did so. Be yourself. You are younique. Maybe the writing spirits meet you in a bamboo forest, or on a rock high above, or sitting in a tree, or at the toilet. Why don’t you write when thoughts are flowing best, when you feel inspired by a situation, or just by some thought sinking in your mind, or when you feel you need/want to share something. If you yourself are not in some kind of altered state while writing, why should anybody read?! Quality newspapers are full of stuff nobody needs and wants. Get in touch with an aspect of you people will be thrilled! Enjoy what you are doing. And: water will do, too!

  • Hi – J.K. Rowling did pretty well writing in Scottish coffee shops… and bringing a baby and pram along as well ! I feel pressured to get out of my seat when I’m taking up space in public (another issue). I don’t think I could write in a coffee shop unless every environmental particular around me was ideal ! But I love reading about everyone’s little peccadilloes… Thank you for sharing your post.

  • Yes! And no! :-) Depends on the day really. But for me, I find it easier to focus when I’m not having to look at piles of laundry, dishes, or the plant that needs watered sitting on the other side of my living room. I hate dragging my laptop out with me; however, some days I need a little more background noise than the dishwasher (zzzzz). :-)

  • Congratulations on being featured on WordPress!

    I usually find the coffee shop, the beach, the park bench more a source of inspiration rather than a place to write. I may jot down impressions, snippets of conversation, but it’s only later when I’m in a quiet place that all that information gels and gets put into a sentence.

  • Yes, I do get some pretty good writing done in coffee shops, but not without my trusty buddy (my laptop) with me. I stopped writing with a pen when I tore cartilage in my writing hand and grew quickly tired of not being able to read my own chicken scratch. I love sitting with a caramel cold chocolate milk, earbuds in with my favorite Christian music playing softly and I write away. So, I do like coffee shops, but my best time to write is between 10 pm and 2 am, I am not bothered, interrupted or requested to do something for someone. I sit in my chair and get inspired! Give it a try with your laptop. Makes a big difference. :-) God bless! BTW- you inspired me to write shorter blogs, less is so often more, so I’ll give it a try. Your blog is interesting and isn’t a novel so, thanks!

  • Hmm..I have once, it was actually ok. It was after work, I had just treated myself to a nice portfolio to use for notes and to organize, so I sat down and spent a half hour in one.

    I have not yet again, I keep taking my stuff with me, but always chicken out in the end, although I can sit and write in parks or near the river, in fact anywhere else anonymous. Its at work that I have trouble, I always feel a little self conscious writing near people who know me.

  • Hmm, Café do Zé, Caldas da Rainha in Portugal – that’s where I’m having my literary orgasms but one espresso is more than enough… We like really strong coffee over here. I use another technique: writing on mobile phone, quite funny and not very practical because anyway you need a bigger screen to see the real picture but I’m too lazy to carry my laptop around.

    Good luck with your work; try different coffee shops – maybe it’ll bring you some inspiration…

  • I’m sort of the opposite. I write anywhere, anytime, any place. I will write on homework, in page margins, or on my hand if I’m desperate. If there is no paper or pencil to be found, I write in my mind. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to turn this function off. :/ But yeah – coffee shops aren’t a problem for me at least.

  • I couldn’t write in public, I need to isolate myself and have complete quiet to get “in the zone.” Even having my husband in the room bothers me. During summer break, I have to write early in the morning or after my daughter goes to bed.

  • It is doable- I’ve sat in Starbucks a couple of times and gotten on with short stories, but I’ve also done so In Pubs and Libraries.
    I think it’s the time of day as well, early mornings, mid-afternoons. I was in Starbucks in the Easter Holidays, and it was mad with kids off School!! Bad timing I know.
    Give it a try- I do some work at home, I never used to. Think of it like this- If you don’t force yourself to just sit somewhere, no matter what distractions there are- then you’re never going to do anything are you? I just try to ognore distractions as much as I can and just get on with it!!
    Hope that helps!!

  • Wow, what I wouldn’t give to be sitting at that table in the photo! I actually have had good luck with writing in coffee shops. But I usually have a goal in mind, like write a few specific blog posts. So I’m not going in blind. And I like too go to less crowded places that are quieter.

    • Perhaps that what I need – a goal in mind. Usually I just show up at the coffee shop with a notebook and the intent to write something, but a specific goal would most certainly help. Thanks for commenting!

  • The first few chapters of a novel are always the most difficult for me, and I frequently go back and modify my notes before sending them to the client, after I have a feel for the writer’s style. (I’m a freelance editor.) Shaking up the environment lets me get a better handle on this.

  • Ooh how I love this question. First of all because it gives me another diversion to focus on instead of writing.
    I love coffee culture. Love, love, love. The key is to find the right coffee culture in which to generate creative energy. Working in the chain coffee shops in the ‘burbs staring at spreadsheets does little to unleash my creative prowess. But throw me in the city eavesdropping on a few guys talking about their band gig, and I’m on a roll! Indie coffee shops, coffee shops in indie cities, indie coffee shops in indie cities…the best of the best.
    Thanks for the great post!
    Back to the chaos…

  • Mmmmm…I love the aromas and the comfortable “living room atmosphere” but I always end up people watching instead of actually writing. I also enjoy the art at different shops so that becomes a distraction to me as well. What do you like better starbucks or mom and pop coffee shops?

  • I can only write in quieter coffee shops were I can stake out a corner and be left completely alone. So yeah, I don’t write in them very often! Libraries are much better for me. Quieter, still full of interesting people, and in most of them, you can still have your coffee!

    • I think I am going to have to try writing at the library. Thus far I’ve only completed research there, but the mix of enforced quiet and interesting people seems like it could make for a productive writing environment. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I enjoy writing in coffee shops because when I try to write at home that’s where I’m distracted. I see messes to clean, movies and TV to watch, food to eat, etc. At the coffee shop, I get a big drink, and it’s guaranteed me time. I actually focus better with a little noise, and sometimes you overhear great conversations that spark up ideas for a short story or a blog post. I also love the library cause it’s bustling but not too noisy.

    I LOVE your idea of taking an artist date. I hope it goes well! Tell us about your adventures, there’s lots of us new writers out there and I’ve been really appreciative of how supportive the blogging world of writers has been. Good luck to you!

    • I can’t take credit for artist dates – I got the idea fro Julia Cameron’s wonderful book ‘The Artist’s Way’. If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it. It really helped me solidify my writing practice. Thanks so much for your comment and well wishes!

  • I’m with you. I can research in a public place, but I’m not a good writer in public places. Too ADD. Can’t focus.

    Congrats on your publicity today and thanks for the linkback in your lists article.

  • I cannot write in coffee shops. In fact, I can’t write unless all the kids are asleep! Every time I write, edit or proofread, I need absolute one-on-one time with the project to gjve it the 100 percent it needs. In fact, I can’t even listen to jazz or classical. I get in the zone when I clearly hear the keys going crazy—when I’m really on to something. I guess I need that reassurance. I remember as an English major in college desperately trying to study from coffee shops. The ambiance is perfect for writers, but not for me. I purely go for the coffee and friends.

  • never! I can never be seriously writing in a coffee shop, I’d end up watching the people especially those in line! and thinking of which cake to buy for my next cup. arrgh.. so now, the bedroom is my most ideal place for productivity.

  • i write better in solitary, but sometimes it’s nice to get out and sit somewhere just for a change of scene and pace. Most of the time i get terribly distracted as well.

  • i write better in solitary, but sometimes it’s nice to get out and sit somewhere just for a change of scene and pace. Most of the time i get terribly distracted though.

  • I love coffee shops, just because I love to get outside the house. I like the mystery that you could talk to a random stranger, you can’t do that at home, and perhaps see something there that you wouldn’t notice at home. I think when you’re on a roll though, it doesn’t matter if you’re at home or at a coffee house, if you can focus and get lost in writing, then go for it.

  • I owned a Coffee Shop and still couldn’t write anything there. The very smell of coffee makes my mind wander.

    My all time favorite place to write anything, creative or not, is in the Quiet. If the kids or the Boyfriend is home I have to shut myself up in the Office, which also serves as my bedroom. This is where I get my best work done. :)

  • I really can’t. :D Or if I do, it takes a lot of effort to focus. I can write in public places, but I prefer libraries where I can grab a cubby and make myself a little zone of my own… plus it’s quiet. I find it completely impossible to write with any sort of vocal music going in the background (instrumental is usually okay, but when there are lyrics I get distracted from MY words by THOSE words :D), so that kind of rules out coffee shops usually.

  • I can write in coffee shops, but I always have to consider what I write to be a draft. Even my blog posts are below par. :P

  • …only if I’m far from home and have no choice. Otherwise, I prefer to be at home, at my desk w/my big monitor, snacks, beverages, pool etc all within easy reach. I do sometimes take my laptop with me to the coffeeshop to catch up on emails or my Google ‘reader’…but serious writing work is best done at home… also: I tend to write late at night anyway…

  • i’ve always done better reading, studying, writing alone…

    i find it hard to focus with all the external stimulation!

    i say… get the delicious coffee to go & get back to business at home.


  • I haven’t really done any writing at a coffee shop, but I have done some sketching at a coffee shop which turned out pretty well. I think writing in a coffee shop sounds romantic, but all the bustle and noise can be quite distracting to deal with.

  • For me, I only go to a coffee shop if I am in the mood to be around people, and can’t focus at home where there is no one. Its a weird mood to be in, but a coffee shop is a great place to satisfy it. Also, I think that when I get sick of my “Cave” (which is my room, or my normal writing environment) it is refreshing to go somewhere new, and have a different, often times more lively, dynamic.

  • I wrote the majority of my thesis is a coffee shop (Donkey Coffee and Espresso in Athens, OH — I would highly recommend it!) and had my weekly meetings with my thesis adviser there, too. It was great because I was there so much that a lot of the regulars knew what I was doing. Those that were interested in the topic (the interactions between branded interests and fan communities on the Internet and the frictions that can arise at those nexuses) would often offer advice or critique. It was a wonderful experience. Someday I hope to leave near such an awesome coffee shop again.

  • I can write in coffee shops, but usually what I’m writing will take different directions depending on what sort of people watching is happening. I don’t think I could work on a novel there, but certainly things like blogs or short stories. Don’t give up!

    • The idea of writing in a coffee shop is so appealing that I don’t think I’ll give up on it just yet. All of these comments from people like you who have had success writing in public are very motivating! Thanks for the encouragement, Sara!

  • I can write in coffee shops, as long as I bring my lap top though. It’s funny because I hand write my notes while in class but everything else has to be typed. Some people are just better on the computer

  • I can’t. I desperately want to — but I can’t. I also tend to need my library — which makes things difficult ;) Perhaps if working at home wasn’t so comfortable (books, constant free coffe, happy cat purring, sofa if one is so incline, a nice window, etc) I might force myself to adapt to the rigors of having to watch fascinating people wander back and forth reading interesting books — preening, showing off their books, etc. Alas….

  • I love the coffee shop writing/studying experience! As a student who recently graduated with a BA degree and now is working on a MA degree, I have become jaded to libraries. The ‘quiet silence’ of the libraries is often times a distraction to me! However, the bustling atmosphere of coffee shops helps me to concentrate! I think it has a lot to do with the fact there are usually other people working around me, there is usually nice and soothing coffee shop background music, and there is (as has been mentioned) the smell of coffee! Also, for me, I tend to feel a little less pressure at coffee shops than I would at libraries to ‘get the work done’, it is a more relaxed and laid back environment.

    Good luck with you efforts!

  • I don’t tend to have a specific place to do my blogging. Generally, whenever inspiration strikes is when and where I blog…provided I’m free at the moment. I’ve blogged on buses, trains, during lunch, at home. I try not to limit myself to one specific location in fear of that becoming part of the writing ritual.

  • Coffee shops are great – there are limited displacement activity opportunities there. You can’t get distracted by clearing up those dishes, dealing with that admin, hanging up that washing. Plus, if you’re there with your laptop or notebook, people might be watching, so you’d better get productive! That’s how it is for me anyway…

  • Nope! Cant do it either> Too many distractions and people to watch. Recently I’ve found writing in the park quite productive. Must be a big one though with not too many people.. Congrats on being FP!

  • I try to dedicated some time during the week to journal, and I have intentionally packed my notebook and a good pen in my backpack to take with me to the local cafe/cupcake shop to let the juices flow. Like you, I’ve found that it doesn’t quite work. I look around and people watch, dog watch, kid watch, and jot down only a few thoughts. It’s distracting in general. I do like the idea of writing in a coffee shop. There’s something romantic about it. However, I do think coffee shops are a place for ideas to start and simmer when talking with friends and sipping a drink. I tend to write best at home in a quiet space, whether it by my bed before I go to sleep or the kitchen table with a cup of coffee on a early Sunday morning while everyone else is asleep :)

  • Great post! I can write anywhere – but if out at for example a coffeeshop it is more like to be what I call my ‘jottings’. Little snippets of ideas, words or other inspirations. Can’t see me sitting for any length of time though in a coffeeshop doing much by way of creative writing. Way too many distractions. Most of my writing now is done at home and I have a desk space all organised – of course I never sit there to write! Instead, I have a chair in back room for morning light and then I migrate west in the afternoon to the front room to finish. Now thats a plan! Congrats on Freshly P’d.

  • …so… many… comments.

    I’m just going to respond to the Q. I seem to be only able to really work in one coffeehouse. It’s about 40 minutes away from me. Kind of a grungy place, but great atmosphere. If I need to break through a block and just WRITE regardless of quality I burn through a few pages there. If you check out my storyblog, “Breaking up always hurts” and “Th e9 machines” were tapped out there.

  • Yes! But only if it’s not a Starbucks. The corporate coffee megalords seem to hustle people in and out by creating an environment that’s not conducive to creative thought.

  • Been there, done that! I have found that I like to sip coffee and observe human nature more than write in a cafe. And that’s why the only place I write now is my study!

  • Pingback: Can you Write in Coffee Shops? (via Occupation: Writer) « Dar Writes
  • Yes, I often write in coffee shops. Café Tortoni, and La Biela are are 2 of my favorites. Places that don’t play background music are the best, but that can be blocked out with practice and discipline. It helps if you go to the same place all the time, at the same time.

  • I think that those famous writers used the busy environment around them to think of stuff to write- ex. Use that fat man with the funny hat as the supervillain in a comic book or somethin like that. All you need is your imagination! Use the distractions as inspiration :)

  • I love having a caramel latte at Starbucks, the usually have some jazz playing and I just write away. It makes me feel so whole inside.

  • I love writing in coffee shops! I must admit, I often get more work done than I do writing at home. For intense, deadline work, though, nothing beats the quiet of a cold library.

  • great post!
    I can’t even read in a coffee shop without being distracted. Can’t imagine concentrating on writing in that environment. So many interesting things going on, as you’ve pointed out.
    I find that I am most productive when I’m the only one in the room or the space.

  • i seem to always find myself people watching… but could this be inspiring for a writer? i enjoy writing. writing outside or in a garden is peaceful.

  • really depends on what i’m doing and what the atmosphere is (type of music, attitude of the employees)…

    per mich’s reply above, i never even try to work outside. i tried that in early college, and was always distracted by the slightest breeze, temperature change, soggy ground, uncomfortable seating, not to mention the glare on the page that hurts your eyes!! i like the idea of it, but i just decided to admit to myself that it’s way too distracting for me to try.

  • I know what you mean, I’m pretty easily distracted also, it’s really interesting though just to sit and watch the world go by. However writing in a coffee shop does make you feel somewhat superior to other boring writers. Not that I can ever actually write in a coffee shop, being said.

  • I think coffee shops are great environments to inspire and intrigue a writer. A lot of times I’ll find myself people watching, observing those around me or in line and creating a story for them. These environments are perfect for the writer, since we are a rare breed to exist in the world. We exist to open up and reveal what’s on the inside of others, what most people are too frightened to explore. Social areas that ooze creativity are great to explore what your mind does with a small detail.

    As far as writing goes, I think coffee shops are really only good for light-hearted blogging.

  • It’s just hard for people to write in a crowded noisy environment. For instance, I can’t write at any place other than my computer because I get so carried away with looking at people and wondering why they’re at a coffee shop for instance and what they’re like. If its easier for you to write at home, you should do that since you get a better result in an environment you’re used to rather than an environment that others are used to. other than that, I love your blog

  • ^ woah, a lot of comments! haha, thought I would add my own:
    I have always loved the idea of writing in a trendy modern coffee shop like starbucks, being mysterious, creative and arty. But you are basically only doing it so that people can look at you, with your double shot vanilla mochaccino (with extra froth) and your macbook pro, and think ‘Gee, he/she must be a writer!’ – I dont think that a coffee shop has any inspiratonal benefit over your lounge, office, or other more comfortable location for writing. Add in the implications of people looking over your shoulder, the possibility of someone spilling their coffee over your keyboard and the fact that a noisy crowded public location is probably not the best place for writing, then no. Bad idea. I tried it once. I got stared at, I dropped my laptop, spilt my coffee, and then felt myself too interested in actually drinking my coffee to actually write anything at all. So basically it failed.

  • Isolation makes it easier to create the state of mind to be prolific. It filters out the noise of the world, so you can hear what you actually think. Your own thoughts will come to the fore, rather than your forebrain constantly addressing distractions.

  • For me, it’s impossible. I don’t understand how they do it.
    Sitting on my desk, or in bed, with the lights ON with Tea and biscuits. Bliss!

  • Exactly what you said here, “I end up distracted and self conscious”. Writing at a park or in my backyard would be my favorite.

  • My problem is that I always bring my laptop. After drinking my coffee I have to pee . . . not wanting to leave the computer unattended, I pack it up and head to the restroom. By the time I get back the thought of unpacking and starting over is really unappealing. Silly, I know. Maybe I will have to try the paper and pen thing.

  • I wrote all the poetry drafts for my dissertation in a cafe on the beach – I would walk there, which in itself is inspiring and by the time I reached the cafe I was very motivated – it’s surprising how long you can make a pot of tea last! I also like to write in my bedroom – which overlooks a beautiful old chestnut tree – the most difficult place to write, for me, is here in my study!

  • My most “writery” place was a wonderful beach bar in Kefalonia. We were there for a holiday and my wonderful wife gave me a day to write (short fiction was what I wrote back then.) I came away with a notebook half-filled with stories, most complete. None reached publication, but it remains a blissful memory, writing longhand, being brought beer and fries, listening to the sound of the ocean just feet away….
    Never done it since, of course, and a crowded Tim Horton’s or Starbucks just doesn’t cut it after that.

  • I’ve write in coffee shops quite a bit, but normally just in the brainstorming phase. It’s amazing just how revealing people will be in a public setting like a coffee shop. I’ve heard couples discussing blow jobs. I’ve heard teens talking about their antics at recent parties. I’ve heard men talk about how much money they make in raised voices. I think people like to use it as a forum – almost like they are speaking to an anonymous audience (even though they could be having these private discussions in their own homes). But I don’t really care. For the conceptualizing and brainstorming, the noise and randomness are a nice facilitator.

  • I’m a recent convert to coffee drinking, so I’ve only been going to coffee shops for a few months now. But I like the atmosphere! I thrive on focusing on my work when there’s some background noise and action, assuming its not overly distracting. I feel more creative and the caffeine definitely helps with the writing process too.

  • I love writing in coffee shops. The extra noise and smell of coffee makes me focus. I have a harder time writing at home where it’s quiet and I can be distracted by the nothingness. Weird!

  • When I was in high school I used to write in the cafeteria, which actually helped develop my ability to write in cafe.
    Going to someplace louder than a cafe might help you learn to tune out and think. That way the cafe sounds will be easy to adjust to.
    Honestly though, it has to be someplace comfy for you, Hemmingway be damned. lol Just find a space where you can be yourself.

  • Oh my goodness, I can just about ONLY write in coffee shops! I just finished my capstone paper for my Master’s degree and nearly all 30 pages were written in a coffee shop. Same with the numerous other papers I wrote for my program. There’s just something about the buzz of a coffee shop that provides me with the perfect “white noise” that is not distracting and encourages me to write.

  • I get most of my inspiration to write in a coffee shop, as a matter of fact i started my blog in a coffee shop and it went from there.. Plug in your earphones and type away ..

  • I love the idea! But I do get distracted quite a bit, and the tables are usually pretty small. I work best when I have a secluded few hours with a good-size desk/table and freedom to get up and walk around every 20 or 30 minutes.

    That said, I still go to coffee shops because I like the atmosphere, even if things do go a bit slower. The process should be as enjoyable as the product!

  • I write when I walk my dog. Admittedly it’s only the first draft, and I always lose a page picking up after my dog. Still, it’s the best time to get inspiration about all sorts of themes. Cheers!

  • I went looking for food blogs and stumbled across this one instead. The topic simply intrigued me. What a treat! As a student, food blogger, and closet writer I can honestly say I cannot write in a coffee shop. I think the idea of it is romantic and glamorous, but in the end if people are talking ~ I am not writing. Great blog! I look forward to reading more of your musings. =)

  • Never managed it so far – the coffee shop writing. But I could imagine finding a quiet corner in a snug in a pub and making progress – before the rush came in.

  • This is a very interesting topic. It is often common practice that writers and poets write in cafes. There is this special relationship one has with the other. Mind and its all sorts of addictions and vices: tea and coffee being the most common ones. Almost all famous writers and poets have a connection with some cafe. Writers like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre discovered a lot in Parisiene cafes.I am inspired by cafes and tea rooms and it is fascinating to watch life go by in a jiffy observing people and it is a great moment to be around people, yet in your own world. I love reading and writing in cafes with the distractions. There are corners and some quiet moments I like as well. In Geneva, where I currently live there are numerous cafes. I frequent Cafe Remor and La Vouivre. In Paris Les Deux Magots and Cafe Flore are perfect. Laduree is an experience too. There are so many places in London. In Calcutta the ‘Old Flurys’ on Park St. Coffee house is still known for its charm and ‘intellectual air’. Flurys was an amazing place to write,but not the glistsy new one. I love cafes and tea rooms and just think writers could not exist without them. I could go on and on and on…..but I will stop here.

  • I travel all over the world as a recording artist and since I have decided to write a blog every day, I spend many a days in a coffee shop in a random city writing my blog or a song. I enjoy it, it is semi-romantic in thought because maybe I do fancy myself as a writer like the ones you mentioned (I know I’m not) but a Greek girl can dream, can’t she?

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.



  • I agree it’s very glamorous. If I didn’t have a little one and had some personal time to myself I would so go to a coffee shop and write. But amazingly the best writing I ever did was taking the Metro (like a subway but in LA). I had a 25 minute ride from the valley to downtown, so I’d put on my headphones, bring out my writing pad and just write. I’d usually go through a couple of pages and a few times I almost missed my stop!

  • I like sitting in cafés or malls, or any public and trying to write but to take notes about the different ways other people talk and the ways they act. See I am a playwright so I spend a lot of time studying the different ways other people talk. If I don’t do that, every time I wrote a play all my characters would end up sounding like me. A coffeehouse, or most other kind of public place, offers me a perfect venue for people watching!

  • Hello,

    Nice blog!! Writing in Coffee shops is the first part of my process. I free-write there and simply work at opening my mind, checking my mood, and letting things flow out. All the people coming and going are wonderful fodder for getting it all going. But there is also another benefit to it. Normally, I will spend about a half an hour at a coffee shop and end up with about three pages of random stuff, then go to a quieter place to write seriously. However, if I cannot get my mind open and rolling I know not to try writing seriously, which save me allot of time and effort not having to go through the whole process of frustration and recovery for not being able to write all the time. So, if I cannot write in a Coffee Shop I simply enjoy my cup of coffee and go off and do something else… However, I make a ritual of going to the coffee shop on a regular basis to check and see if I am in a writing mind.

    Good luck,

  • When I am in the mindset of writing and there is a deadline, I can most force myself to write anywhere. And since I have the noise at home from my son, his dog and cat (who knows how to turn on and off the light switch and vent in the bathroom) it prepares me for going out in public. Makes it a little more easier to deal with moderate levels of noise. Sometimes quiet is too much of a distraction for me. And I used to be the “silence is golden writer.” I guess I am moving to a different beat nowadays. I’d say push yourself outside of what is comfortable. As you evolve, you’ll see that comfortable could be uncomfortable. It may change your writing and process forever!

    Ve Michelle

  • I think the issue is the type of coffee house. The chain types are just too clinical and plain with people rushing in and out. ‘Artsy’ ones, like European old school ones that the example authors likely visited, are probably the best though some said there are distractions. If it has a comfortable, fairly quiet place to sit (headphones and inspiring music help), slower turnover of customers, and local artwork rotated on the walls can be conducive.

  • Yes . . . the smells in steam, the souls in deep conversation, the little-world feel. Inspires me. Until those teen hipsters walk in and flirt with the baristas.

  • Consider that I like to write about astral travel, so the coffee shop is not the best place for me. Mostly it is difficult to focus with so much noise. Also, I need a quiet place where I can concentrate on remote viewing.

  • I believe you have to be really great at blocking out distractions, noise, sounds, talking, etc. to be able to write in a coffee shop. I would have a better chance writing in a barnes and nobles vs a regular coffee shop.

  • I like writing in a coffee shop because it’s kind of like white noise to me. It keeps me focused and I feel like I need to write just to blend it; so it is a sort of motivation.

  • It depends on what I’m writing. If it’s an introspective piece, I need complete quiet. If I am writing a scene in a public place, it helps to pull some of that atmosphere into my work. But sometimes it gets distracting, no matter what. A few weeks ago there was a man who was holding a meeting with some clients and he talked so loudly I couldn’t concentrate. And then I went outside and the cigarette smoke bothered me, so I went home. So, it’s sort of crap shoot. I think the key is finding the right place.

  • Love to write in coffee shops, or anywhere semi-public, especially rough first drafts. Prefer late night silence for the edits. ;-)

  • i love to write in my bedroom. because i can get focus on what i’m trying to write. but i never write in the coffee shop. it might be interesting though. maybe i should try someday :)

  • I do love writing in coffee shops, though I agree that often it’s not so much the actual words on page work of writing that occurs there as it is the inspiration and thought development. I think part of writing well is studying life well. As far as I’m concerned, you’re actually ahead of the game if you are good at hunkering down in a quiet and private space; the challenge is always creating a balance of being in the world enough to write the world well. And for a practical piece, if you do want to actually write at a coffee shop you must be cutthroat about your seat choice – something looking away from the door – possibly out a window if you can handle it, but if not, sit yourself into a corner – it’s the only way I have any shot of getting a decent amount of words to page.

  • Going to my coffee shop is part of my routine 6 days a week. It’s great fun to be a regular. The baristas know to leave me alone, the other customers are supportive and treat me like a celebrity. I love the coffee. I love the music. I love the atmosphere.

    If I stall while I’m writing, I just look up and take in the surroundings, distract my brain for a minute, then the next word comes. When I’m done for the day, I go home and do a quick “clean-up” of my draft as I plug it into the computer.

    I’ve written three novels this way, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

  • I tend to have no issue with creative writing in coffee shops, which is interesting because I do have trouble programming or writing code in coffee shops or other noisy environments. The white noise of the people isn’t so distracting that I can’t hear my inner voice, but it’s just distracting enough that I can’t hear my inner censor…which makes all the difference in the world with me when it comes to writing. If the music is noticeably louder than the human noise though, the type of music playing can become a factor, in particular if it’s jazz or blues.

  • What a fun post :). I have never written in a coffee shop but I’ve done plenty of eavesdropping and that has made for some interesting posts! My favorite place to write? In my head. The challenge? Remembering all the details and getting it into words. Cheers, MJ

  • I do most of my writing at my local Caribu; and, like you, since I actually write with pen and ink, I get strange looks from the computer folks. The people around me are inspirational, and the atmosphere at Caribu is more relaxing than Starbucks. For my flash fiction, I normally have two or three ‘ideas’ sitting in my spiral notebook, that I will reread and develop. The novel, well that is more at the house, but I still will do some ‘new idea’ paragraphs at Caribu.

  • I agree with you: even if the enviroment sounds good, I get ditracted. I´ve tried yet, but there are sometimes people who talk too loud, or you meet someone who thinks you´re doing nothing and start talking… If I have simple ideas already done in my mind, I go. It´s very nice to go out, mainly to a Coffee Shop. But if it´s something more complex and I have to think about, not only turn into words, I prefer my “home, sweet home”.

  • I think that is not possible, in my case, of course. I always get very distracted. I need a very quite place, any sound, that would be the perfect spot for me. As I write, I can imagine a bunch of stuff in my head and write about it! A coffee besides me, would help a lot.

  • Whew, you got a lot of comments, lol. I blog at Starbucks whenever I have an hour break from my job, and sometime’s when I’m not on break, I go there to hang out with my laptop. It’s fabulous. Writing pen and ink would be a bit of a challenge for me. Not sure why.

  • For outlines, notes and random observations and possible inspirations, I love coffee shops. When it comes to actually writing, though, I prefer my quiet house in the wee hours of the morning or at night.

  • I write in coffee shops when I’m tearing my hair getting nothing done at home. My home is distraction-free, with a great study, and a few nooks all over the house to write in.

    But I find that once in a while I need to get out and write somewhere else. I have drafted entire stories in restaurants and coffee shops…also libraries. In a big city, it is useful to go out and be amid people instead of always writing from a white tower :).

    That said, each writer is a different person, and different things work for different people.

  • Great post! I find writing in an artsy coffee shop inspirational because I am surrounded by like minded folks. Whether they surfing the web, answering emails or writing that dream novel. Either way, its encouraging to me. I will be reading more of your blog!

  • I’m usually at my most philosophical when near nature, but I get most of my “serious” writing done at the computer. :) Writing at a coffee shop is an interesting idea; but if I do it, I’ll do it at a relaxing place like Peet’s Coffee and Tea. Starbucks doesn’t have the same atmosphere, though I’ll be darned if I can figure out why when their coffee is (as I’ve been told; I’m a tea drinker) so good. ;)

  • No, I cannot write in coffee shops, or at least not write anything worth reading. Coffee shops have too much chatter and too many distractions. Most of the time I cannot write around any noise whatsoever, and will often wear earplugs while writing in order to block out even the softest noise.

  • A few months back I started carrying a moleskine in my purse so I could write whenever I was inspired. Sometimes it happens in the coffee shop, the hair salon or the nail shop and sometimes while I am sitting at a traffic light or RR crossing. Now I am ready whenever I have a lightbulb moment.

  • I fantasize about it a lot, but because I live out in the country there are no nearby coffee shops, and facing the drive into the city just to sit in a cafe to write, well let’s just say I’m not motivated to do it. Great post! Congrats on being FP’d.

  • I do much better writing at coffee shops. If I write at home, there’s always dishes to do, laundry, the dog to play with. And as an added benefit, my laptop’s wi-fi doesn’t work, so no internet to distract me.

  • I don’t usually, but Panera works for me every once in a while. All I need is a cup of Hazelnut coffee and a Blueberry scone and I am good to go. Just make sure to sit way in the back!

  • The coffee shop I go to has several collective journals on tables and even in the bathroom. This seems to make the coffee shop a place for writers and thinkers, not just coffee drinkers and people watchers. So if I were to walk in with my own notebook, I’d feel like I fit right in. If there’s a coffee shop you happen to like very much, maybe you can supply some notebooks/journals and a small bin of pens and pencils. It might fine-tune the vibe there. People really love to express themselves. We even have a journal titled “Crayon Poetry” that sits in a basket of crayons. Anyway – write wherever you feel comfortable, but if you want to make your favorite coffee house into something with a little more texture, those are some ideas. Maybe you’ll inspire another writer ;)

  • Wow, thought I was the only one that couldn’t settle down to write in a coffee shop!
    Too many distractions but it is great for observing human nature, a writerly custom.:)

  • First of all, congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I absolutely miss the thrill I had when I woke up and found myself in those exciting shoes. :)

    I can’t write in coffee shops, because I think it’s just become to cliche. Everyone looks at you like your a fraud–a wanna be. Rather than write, I’d like to hand out my business card and copies of my publications.

    As far as where I actually like to write, though, I would say, “Anywhere the words will flow.” My biggest distraction is the medium I’m using to take down my words. So, I have a typewriter, an electric typewriter, an iPad, a laptop, a desk computer, and a couple of leather bound journals and pretty fountain pens. LOL! If I’m blocked and can’t think of what to write, usually if I change writing tools, the words will start coming again.

    Coffee shops, though? It doesn’t matter what I have to write with–the only thing I’m inspired to write is “Don’t look at me!” :)

  • I can, sometimes. It’s hard for me, though. Like you, I find the bustling environment a bit too much. Maybe if I were to find a quieter coffee shop, maybe. But it’s so hard! I find myself people-watching and my mind starts to wander off. But the idea does sound super glamorous and like it’d stimulate my creative mind. Perhaps I will find it soon!

  • Oooh, I’ve tried. I can only write in coffee shops when there is a heavy deadline and it’s do-or-die (the only time I had that actually work for me was in grad school). I like to go and pretend I’m writing, but really, I people-watch. :) Congrats on FreshlyPressed!

  • YES! ARTIST DATES! I am currently on week 4 of The Artist’s Way. Thank you! What a fantastic idea for my next date with my artist! :) Now I’ll share one of mine with you: I like to go to little hole-in-the-wall shops and browse, or else go foraging in the forest for birch bark and whatever else I can find to make cool things with. Last I made a photo frame and a still-life arrangement. So excited to meet a fellow artist dater!

  • I’m with you–the bustle of people is awkward! My problem with writing in a coffee shop is that I usually feel rushed. Many customers want to sit and enjoy their own mug of coffee or hot cocoa, and I feel that if I’m there writing, I’m taking up too much space. Instead of feeling “at home,” I feel like a bother. This doesn’t help my writing whatsoever. I advise you to write wherever you feel most comfortable, where your writing flows easily. There is no need to force yourself into a writing condition that is hard to accept. You’ll end up losing precious writing time.

    Anyway, good luck!

  • Try another coffee shop if one does not work for you. Did Hemingway frequent only one. Rome wasn’t written in a day. Leave the Laptop at home as he did too. The writing bone is connected to the pen and pad bone. You will doubtless string better words together without “WORD”.

  • about half of my blogs are written in coffee shops. I currently have a workbook for a home self study course that was all written in my favorite Starbucks in Dallas TX

    It does work for me, but its not for everyone, I find it more relaxing, the home office has more distractions then the coffee shop to me.

    Good writing , Rock on

  • starbucks or barnes & noble and sometimes panera bread. :) starbucks is preferable – especially in the evening when the lights are dim, the acoustic music is softly playing, the quiet talking of college classmates, friends, and business people… all the while the smell of coffee and baked goods is always everywhere.

    i like to bring my computer (or when my eyes are tired of the screen, a notepad with a gel pen) and just sit on a comfy chair and let the ideas flow.

    a venti caramel frappuccino please. :)

  • Meh – coffee shops are great for when I have cabin fever. Some of my best writing is in the morning hours though at home or on an airplane over long flights (particularly now that cheap, fast, reliable wifi is available on most trans-atlantic or trans-continental flights from the US).

    The key is vibe and usually that means some mood of mine that isn’t based on listening to someone else’s chatter…

    Thanks for the conversation!

  • I’m working on a research project out of my home. I use the coffee shop for certain parts of the process, composing and outlining. Then I go home to write the drafts. I go to the same place several times a week and I have the waitresses trained to bring me a big pot of really bad coffee and a great breakfast (small town; we don’t have good coffee here). They are so wonderful; they all know I’m working on a book and they let me sit there for a couple hours. They don’t play music and they have big windows on the street. It took awhile to get comfortable there among the elderly ladies and telephone repairmen, but now it’s like my office. I’m trying to figure out a way to thank the owner for his hospitality!

  • I only write at home on the sofa. Since my recent move, I have a sofa in a quiet room, but previously I was forced to share the room with both my husband’s “office” and my boys’ video game/DVD area. It was never quiet in that situation!

  • I’ve tried to write in coffee shops on several occasions, some more successful than others but for me, I find that when I go there just to observe and people watch, I end up a couple pages of notes on different character ideas or situations. Just going to write there I get really distracted and I can’t focus. I am a coffee shop people watcher, haha.

  • So here’s my deal. If I have to write something specific that I’m already working on, cafes can be the kiss of death for the effort. It needs to be relatively quiet for me to hear my writer’s voice inside. If I’m doing free writing or otherwise looking for inspiration and stimulation, there’s no better place than a cafe or bar. They’re full of activity, interaction, movement, interesting people, and interesting scenarios. :-)

  • Even though I couldn’t go to coffee shops, I like to take a cup of coffee when I got blessing to write. It’s the best friend for me :)

  • I can write in coffee shops. If I get distracted, I change gears and write what I hear, say like conversations – or if no one is in there or close enough to me, I describe the room, the cups, aromas, or the staff. Doing those exercises allows me to continue what I was doing – and I get some practice in writing dialogue or putting a picture on the place – comes in handy in scenes – say, if I want one in a coffee shop – I have the notes!

  • I have a lot of trouble writing in solitude, but my freelance stuff is written in bite size pieces. Once I start back to my book again, I’ll probably need to put the Starbucks card down and camp out in my bedroom.

    Great blog, by the way. The fact that so many people are following you is a writing victory of the first order and a testament to your skill. I’ll definitely be back.

  • well, I never write in a coffee shop, because here, in my town a lot of coffee shop surrounded by smoke. And it really distracts me. So, usually I write in library or in my own bedroom, so if I feel tired of getting inspiration, I can fall asleep easily. And sometimes, the inspiration comes in my dreams…or nightmare. :)

  • Not to long ago, I use to run a coffee shop. I had many stories come to life during the slower hours of my shifts. I find that coffee shops feel like home to me and and I always get a lot of writing done! :)
    (I’m always inspired by the customers, a and workers in a coffee shop! I have more than a few stories based of my old customers!)

  • Interesting! I think I am going to try this out for myself. It sounds like a nice thing to do, tucked away in the corner of a crowded coffee shop scribbling things down while looking intelligent yet seperate from the world around….yep, trying this! Only now I need to find a cute and busy cafe` that also has great coffee somewhere nearby….

  • The only place I can write is in a coffee shop, but it’s important to find one with the right atmosphere. It took me a while to find the right place with the best coffee and nice group of regulars. I sit in the same table (and everyone knows that’s where I sit), order the same coffee, and follow my writing ritual. When I go to write, I always have a sense of what I’m going to work on to keep me from getting distracted. Usually, my surroundings provide inspirations for little details rather than the big picture.

  • Once I’ve got my earphones and my iTunes library on, I’m good to go at any cafe. I would stay home and write but my bed is way too seductive for me to handle.

  • I’ve tried writing at cafes before and they worked because I was able to take short breaks by just shifting my concentration away from my laptop for a bit and listening to the hubbub surrounding me and sometimes I even get inspirations from random snippets of conversations of the strangers sitting nearby. (^^)

  • I find coffee shops too distracting unless they’re somewhat unpopulated and I can concentrate. I too am in love with the romantic idea of writing in a coffee shop. You know though, conversations around you could inspire ideas or writings themselves. I wouldn’t block other people out all the time.

  • Honestly, I write best when I’m at a place I don’t want to be, so I’ve always found my best ideas come to me when I’m at work. I have to wait until my lunch break to steal away some time and write. Usually, that’s only for my short stories since the disjointed experience would be tougher for writing a novel. When writing my novels, I’ve always done the majority of that at home, in front of the television, in the office with the washer and dryer going, wherever, etc… Distraction isn’t really an issue. So I think I could write in a coffee shop if I had the desire or time to.

    I think if I had the desire or time though, I’d probably take it near the Little Miami River or the Ohio River. Something about writing near the river appeals to me.

  • It’s one of those things I wish I could do! I don’t do it but can’t say it’s because I lack concentration or inspiration when there – it’s simply because I’m too nervous to try it. I find there’s a big stigma around writing in coffee shops and a stereotype which surrounds being pretencious, so I’ve always felt that I’d have to be extremely brave to try it although I’d love to. Additionally, I find it harder to write with a pen and paper – a dissapointment to more experienced writers maybe, but although I used to prefer it, I can no longer write unless on a laptop, and the battery in mine would not last in a coffee shop!
    Who knows though, one day I might brave it; I’ll take my fully charged laptop to Starbucks, order my raspberry frapachino and get an inspired train of thought going without caring what people think.

  • I keep trying to make coffee shop writing work for me, and one out of ten times it does…I get too distracted my the music, the conversations. But I will keep trying in between the writing time that works from my home, a quiet park bench, my car while waiting for children….

  • I never write in coffee shops. The seating is always too uncomfortable! At least the shops I’ve been too.

  • Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!! It’s an amazing feeling. I find that I’m too much of a people watcher to get writing done in a coffee shop. But, I have discovered that it’s a fantastic place for me to get inspired. If I get a little writer’s block, I go sit down, throw open the laptop, and watch to see what happens around me. Inevitably, I get a few great ideas to write about. :-)

  • I tend to write everywhere: at work, waiting for a movie to begin, at a bus stop, in the car waiting to pick someone up, coffee houses, parks, home. Notebooks and pencils still prove to be the most wonderful things out there.

  • I’ve found that the simple act of taking a notebook/laptop to a coffee shop forces me to remember the task at hand. If I’m at home, it’s so easy to get distracted by the TV, chores, books, etc. If I’m at the coffee shop, I have nothing but my writing tools and it’s hard to think, “Oh, I could do that instead…”

  • Yurp! People observing starts me vamping some dialogue. I almost never use the original stuff, but it helps the eventual product SO much!

  • Writing in coffee shops hmmm, tough to decide…I look at it this way – I’m an aspiring writer, so that should automatically imply that I ain’t got two pennies to rub together, but then again being a struggling writer insinuates that I should be hunched over a rickety table with foam on my lip and cracked out on espresso. My profession is an anomaly because hey, poverty and vanity don’t really go hand in hand, but the cliche insists that I subject myself to both…man it’s tough being a writer sometimes.

  • Amen to Andy. You can spend all day on blogging. Sit down and write stories, no matter where you are.

  • Amen to @ Andy. You can spend all day on blogging. Sit down and write stories, no matter where you are.

  • My favorite place to write in in coffee shops! I take my journal with me to a coffee shop several days a week and write down thoughts, concerns and general noes about what is happening in my life. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do. I can relate to what you are saying about feeling self-conscious though, sometimes I worry about people seeing what I am writing and that makes me feel uncomfortable, but I make sure to grab a seat where I can sit in private and write.

  • I love writing in coffee shops. I have perfected the art. Buying a cup of coffee and a fancy pastry-like thing makes it seem more glamorous, and so it just inspires me to write. I love doing it so much. But never, ever do it in Starbucks. Choose a non-name brand coffee shop. Much more Hemingway.

  • Give me a quiet corner of the roof (figurative for: inaccessible to all but a few) somewhere alone.

  • great post, got me thinkin about the Family Guy episode when two guys in a café goes like “Oh, will you watch me when Im writing…”

    Although, I do like studying in coffee shops but on the other hand that might have somthin to do with me living in superhot and humid Bangkok in an apt without AC…

    • Hey, you’re the second person to mention the episode! Must have been a good one :) I think I would retreat to the coffee shop too if I was living in a hot and humid place with no AC!

  • the coffee shop, once in a while. i suppose it depends on personality and state of mind in the moment? like an awful cliche, i’ve managed to write in a small-town bar, upset and sober. for what it’s worth, writing at the bar worries the barflies.

    i was at least working on a piece that had to do with drinks. but that was also out of desperation, having had two lines for it circling through my mind since 2009 and thinking it might help to be in the atmosphere.

  • They’re the very best place to write! All that noise and bustle just makes me really focus. Solves the feeling of loneliness at home … coffee sets the mind going and at the same time I feel like I’m just part of the furniture, no-one’s looking at me and I can really concentrate.

  • Hiya! Mine is Park or a place where I can find peace. Idk why, I don’t think I can produce something nice from writing in coffee shops (though I haven’t tried yet). lol.

  • Unfortunately, I am the same. I become self-concious about what I am writing, and tend to make myself believe that whatever I have gotten down on paper is not to my best ability. Though, I have found writing in the car, in the very rare occasion that I am in the passenger seat, to be quite helpful and inspiring. It is only when I sit in my room that I have little to no inspiration at all. I have yet to try the coffee shop idea, and I guess being a writer – or so-called – I should have tried it already. You should remember, however, that you should write wherever it works for you best. Just because one writer finds it easy to get the juice flowing in one place, doesn’t mean it is going to be the same for you. That is what makes writers individual, and able to write stories or pieces that are original!

  • Coffee shops are a great place to write and i do it them often. As a fellow writer and a former coffee shop owner it can be really hard to write in a shop. I would say the best thing to do is find a shop that you are most comfortable just being in, we as writers can find inspiration in many many places.
    I would stay away from chains, personally I find them not inspiring at all and the people in them even less. You say you feel self conscious sometimes so try this, find a shop and go there and just be and exist don’t even try writing or even keeping notes. Maybe bring a book to stare at and put your earphones for your mp3 player in your ear BUT don’t turn the music on….just listen to everything around you, the sounds, the noises, the smells the conversations and how people talk….eavesdrop BUT never make eye contact lol.
    When you find a shop you may like go there a few times before you even try writing, learn to just BE in shop, become a part of it and the surroundings then you will feel more comfortable in it and more able to write. This has worked for me with my own writing in various public settings. Also try to find a shop with collage students and not high school kids, college kids frequent coffee shops to study and are essentially doing the same thing you are just for different reasons, this may help the self conscious thing also. Hope this helps

  • I saw this post and thought it might be interesting. And the fact that you were saying you were getting distracted by your location (although you hit the nail on the head with the following comment) that you may be in the wrong coffee shop. Sometimes you don’t always want to relax in the coffee shop that is “super popular”, although I’ve seen students do homework in a Starbucks.
    So, to each their own, I suppose.
    However, in regards to your concluding question: when I was in high school (this was when I had so much time on my hands), my top place to write was while on the bus. I would carry a tin notebook and pen and my ipod. I could spend hours at the back of the bus and if an idea popped in my head it would get written down and saved for later. Although, I don’t think anythin was ever used for anything else.

  • No, I actually can’t, and I don’t think I ever will. If there’s too much noise in the background while I’m writing, I’ll just get irritable, write a few notes too, and then get out of the room and calm myself down. My favorite place to write would be my bed.

  • I actually do my best writing by myself in my home. I think I tried the whole writing in a cafe thing and I was too busy eating a really delicious piece of cake (I’m a sugarholic) and drinking tea to really focus on writing. Who has time for that when there is a good treat and drink around? Plus, I was trying to force it and that is the worse thing for a writer, having to force something out. Well maybe I should say that is the worse thing for this writer.

  • I believe it’s a case-to-case basis because we have different personalities, peculiarities and preferences that either makes us write more/less in a given time and at a certain place.

  • A friend of mine always goes to a coffee shop whenever she has a lot of writings to do. She said that coffee shop was quite inspiring to help her get the work done. I am, on the contrary, having much trouble writing in such a crowded place like that. Just like you, my ideas for writing will be flowing when I work at home, especially when people have already gone to bed :D

  • coffee shops sounds good but personally it’s kind of distracting for me. too much noise. best time for me is early morning after a good night’s sleep accompanied by my own personalized blend of coffee. great post by the way. congrats

  • I totally agree, I feel self-conscious as well. I write better whenever I’m alone, or not that surrounded by so many people. And yes, it is glamorous to write in a coffee shop. As far as I know, JK Rowling did that as well. :)

  • It seems that if you want to write something, you need a place where is quiet and fit for you. coffee place is also a good place to have a writing sometimes for me. THANKS FOR your nice post!

  • The louder the better, hopefully you have people pushing your table every few minutes to get a sudden rush of emotion! It has always been my cup of tea, to study, to write, to research. I just think of a room full of floating ideas and all I need to do is reach out and grab them.

    One more coffee please.

  • Howdy! Coffee shops do have far too many distractions. I am such a people watcher it’s hard enough for me to drink Lapsang souchong tea while checking everyone out, let alone writing! Writing for me is done on the couch with George at my feet keeping my tootsies warm, music pumping and often with a glass of red to keep the inspiration flowing. Happy writing! It’s so therapeutic isn’t it!

  • Without accusing anyone of anything, this blogs seems to imply that the love for writing is actually a love for the idea of writing.
    Why does a writer have to compose in a coffee shop?
    Isn’t one wasting time trying to get used to writing in a public space, when they could actually be writing to a higher degree where you feel comfortable?

    Don’t fall into the trap of being an artsy bohemian. Your writing will become generic.

  • Do you wish to write well?
    Do you wish to be inspired in your sorroundings, as well as in your heart and mind?
    Do NOT go to a coffee shop, go to a coffee-house.
    I do hope we know the difference between the two.

  • Back when I was writing short stories, I really enjoyed writing in coffee shops. Something about the caffeine I drank and the activity around me usually got me writing well. Most of the time, I was able to focus on what I was writing. Sometimes, I would take breaks and inhale the bustle around, with various conversations and sounds. I think that really worked well for me, since taking breaks at home was boring — just music in the background. But I’m sure coffee shops don’t work for everyone. Best wishes for your writing!

  • As a writer, I would say the best place to write is still at home clicking on my ever-faithful computer keyboard. Although I would love to try writing in a nice and cozy coffee shop which is quite nil here in Legazpi City, Philippines. I had some past experiences writing in between flights while travelling but it is still different writing in familiar surroundings. I get distracted :(

  • I am not a novelist yet, nor an established writer of even scribbles in renowned print spaces. But I love writing. And yeah, I loved the discussion above, like a girls get-together and talking about their ways of handling men. When I write, (and that’s more often to blog than projects as such), I love to recline on a sofa or a bed, with my laptop and scribble along, alone at home. Coffee shops would never come into my imagination, since a bustling atmosphere is not really my ideal choice of writing. But I’m sure that novelists have their own way of living in their fictional world (part-reality and part-imagination… oh I envy that), that they can perhaps manage anywhere.

  • I like to write in the basement of Starbucks@Regents Street. It’s pretty artsy and inspiring. It’s quiet yet you can raise your head to find some interesting people. People that you may want to start a juicy conversation with. With pen and notebook in hand I develop a false sense of importance about myself and also hope that if people notice me they may think I am important too. LOL!
    I can write anywhere but not just about anything!

  • I agree with you about having a hard time with serious writing. Usually the work I can get done at coffee shops is more notes for ideas or character sketches. I love watching people interact and try to come up with a story of what they are talking about based on their facial expressions and body language. Sometimes I am lucky enough to catch snippets of crazy conversations that I can work into an essay or blog post.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
    Emily @

  • I love writing in coffee shops. For some reason, I’m all the more inspired by the people sitting around me. I can somehow tune them all out. Also, some of my character descriptions are based on utterly random people sitting near me. Once I noticed a guy out of the corner of my eye (hey it rhymes!) who looked exactly like a gnome! Ha ha, anyways, congratz on FP!

  • Perhaps the question you should be asking is why you want to work in a coffee shop? Are you looking for background noise? Inspiration? A change of scenery? A more structured approach to your day?

    The whole Hemingway image is attractive but ultimately you’ve got to find a space that allows you to be productive.

    Coffee shops do work well for me – I think writing can get to be an isolating activity so getting out to a coffee shop is a way for me to be around other people while I’m working. Personally, I think this makes me a better writer, but perhaps for you there are better places to work.

  • Pingback: Can you Write in Coffee Shops? | Travel to Terengganu
  • well, i just started going to coffee shops, but I do find it very relaxing. I can read, idk about writing!

  • Pingback: Can you Write in Coffee Shops? | Travel to Kelantan
  • When I want to work on my novel, I will write anywhere. I write sentence by sentence at work while my computer loads. I write at home on an ancient laptop. I have a pad of paper and pen in the book bag I carry around everywhere, to accompany my sketch book. The only time I don’t write tends to be at lunch, and that’s because I’m too busy sketching people around me.

    That said, coffee shops aren’t really ideal.

    Two days ago I was locked out of my somewhat scubby apartment with only my purse, my cell phone, and my writing and drawing things. So rather than sitting on my front porch, waiting for my sister/roommate to come home, I texted her, and hoofed it across the street to Starbucks to continue on with the plot I’d dreamed up during work that day. Once at Starbucks, I proceeded to pace back and forth muttering to myself, asking the baristas things like, “If you were a Victorian criminal overlord, what would your parties look like?”

    Now, getting locked out of your house. That does wonders for your productivity, but I can’t recommend it much. ;)

  • I agree with you that writing in coffee shops is a little distracting because people are all over you and talking about different subjects. The noise people make from talking is distracting and does not make a person can concentrate while thinking about anything.

  • MILESTONE MAN could write 10,000ft in the air being dangled by his feet from a hot air balloon, while hungry sharks are fired from large cannons directly at his face!

    However, a coffee shop could be difficult – I mean there is a lot of noisy chit chat to eavesdrop on!

  • Actually I can write everywhere. I just started my iNotez blog here – after trying other blog spaces – but wordpress is the best :)
    Anyways… I carry my iPod with me everywhere I go, and when a new idea pops up, I write a note, and then another note, and then another…
    The idea of carrying a pen and paper seems somehow odd and out of time:)
    Yes. I can write everywhere I am at :)

  • I have been writing my scripts for films and Ad’s at coffee shops….most of em turned out to be good, the reason why I go there is that it increases my ability to think. Noticing people around you, their behavior, their talks, body languages etc. gives you inspiration about your subject, character and other meaningful substance on which you can create good stories.
    I will suggest you to give a real try and write something good noticing people around, i m sure u will come out with something nice…:)

  • Can’t write in coffee shops or any other public place. I have to have a completely distraction free place. I can’t even listen to music.
    I would love to have a coffee place close enough, though, to head to when I need to take a break and mull over my plot and characters.
    If only the Algonquin round table were just downstairs.

  • When I caught the title of your post, I thought immediately of a remark by Louis Lamour, to the effect that he could sit on the median of Sunset Boulevard and work with his typewriter on his knees. Myself, I need a computer before I can even contemplate that scenario.

  • I can write in one particular coffee shop but I think the larger point is the need to be considerate of the proprietor. He or she – in the case of a locally-owned shop – is providing the writer with “office space” and free utilities. I think that deserves a good tip at the very least. I’ve thought about dedicating my next book to “all the proprietors of coffee shops who suffer the writers with grace and a smile”.

  • It’s hit and miss. Depends quite a lot on what seat I get and how interesting the scenery. A busy shop with people hustling in and out conducting business is ok. A coffee shop near a college with scantily clad co-eds and fascinating converstaions going on in every direction is tough. But even that is good for story ideas.
    My best place to write is in my back yard with the stars above and a fire in the firepit.

  • I love writing in coffee shops. It’s helpful to get out of the space where I have been so much… it’s nice to be in a place where someone else keeps it clean, someone else makes the coffee, and other people are making sounds. I don’t get too caught up in my own head, I can get drawn out of who I am. I really enjoy Panera, it has just enough traffic, mixed with quiet times and I can refill my coffee as much as I want.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • I was beginning to suspect this was a writing myth, writing in coffee shops. I’ve done it a few times but I never enjoy it as much as when I’m at home. I can write in busy places but I become too aware in coffee shops that the staff want their table or that I’m sat on my own. I think it depends on how self-conscious you are whether this works or not. Glad I’m not alone in struggling to do this. Great blog post!

  • I, too, am often too distracted to write in public places. It is strange, though, because I often get my best ideas in busy, bustling environments. I think you have the right idea, though; if you keep up a practice, it will soon feel more natural. I have always had a fantasy of being able to write whilst sitting in a pub, pint in hand (so to speak). Perhaps, having gained some motivation from your post, I will now be more deliberate in my effort to fulfill my goal. How else would we writers “make it?”

  • I couldn’t and can’t write in bustling public places like that. I feel far too self conscious and worried about what others may think. I’m far happier at home or down the yard; somewhere quiet and peaceful where I can get into my flow without worries of anyone interupting.

    Writing for me is quite a private thing, I hate the concept of people looking over my shoulder and making stupid comments!

  • Why not take your laptop to a coffee shop? Especially if there is free wireless internet. Star Bucks would be a good Coffee Shop or a friendly Cafeteria where you will go again and again, and they know to leave you there for as long as you like without feeling obligated to drink as many cups of coffee for the time you are there. Someone should open up a Writer’s Cafe! Great blog post.

  • I can’t write in a coffee shop, and I could never study in a library! Having too many other people around is distracting, since I tend to attract the annoying ones! I’m wondering if Hemingway just wrote about what things he TALKED about at the coffee shop…it’s more a place to get ideas than a place to work!

  • Great thought-provoking question. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    I absolutely adore writing in coffee shops. Because I live alone, going out into the world and imbibing not only chai but other people’s vibes is essential for me. Somehow, I’m able to focus and get a lot done using my laptop. The chatter of the other patrons and the hiss of the espresso machine are the background music that accompany my writing efforts.

    I don’t feel self-conscious because I recognize that everyone else is absorbed into their own little worlds, too. They have no interest in me, just as I have no interest in them. Really, I’m not that important. (I’m not being self-effacing; nobody is that important! And yet, everyone is. One of those spiritual paradoxes.)

    Thanks for opening up a fun conversation! Here is my latest blog post, written partially in a coffee shop, naturally:

  • hi there!! just wanted to let you know that I think your blog just speaks to the writer in me and I am loving every word on here! good on you!
    thank you for sharing with us all!
    <3 Sarah

  • I can write anywhere. Probably because I have to. I work well at the computers in the school library as lots of websites are blocked, my time is limited and you’re not allowed to talk. This way I don’t get distracted all that easily. I also try and motivate myself at home but it’s hard because I’m so used to using my computer for procrastination that it’s difficult to make myself concentrate when I’m there! Ha ha. Congrats on Freshly Pressed, by the way :)

  • MarmarÖ
    It depends on the situation and the coffeshop. when I want to write there i choose a small and quiet one. and it is enjoyable

  • Pingback: “Can you write in coffee shops ? “ | Une Tasse de Café à Paris
  • I love writing in coffee shops. In spite of the background noise, I’m more focused in places like Starbucks or Caribou Coffee. At home I’m much more distracted by my bed – I take more naps than a cat.

    Now in Argentina, my favorite place to write is Tea Connection – they’ll leave you alone for hours with your personal pot of tea.

  • I love writing in coffee shops myself, but I think that it is a person to person debate. I could always do homework with the tv on too. At home I get distracted by all the things that need doing. There’s nothing for me to do but write when I’m out! :)

  • There’s this great coffee shop in Auburn, Alabama called Gnu’s room. It is small, with one barista and one bathroom. There are a few tables. There are bookcases of books from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. It is the only coffee shop I can write in.

  • Charles Dickens wrote with a dozen children in a small room. Yours truly has two kids and invariably writes while they screech around. Writing in a coffee shop shouldn’t be too challenging.

  • In terms of word count that I want to share with the world, not so much. But hanging out in the local coffee shop (Edgewater Coffee Company) is a great way to stay connected to the community. That helps my writing in ways I can’t explain.

  • More mindblowing than your blog is that you got 407 responses!!! This only goes to show how lonely is the long-distance writer, ie, the ones actually writing novels and other long projects. Why add my little voice to the mix? Do you even have time to read it?

    I used to walk across Golden Gate park early every morning, back in the early 90s, to go to The Owl and the Pussycat on 9th St. to write. But that was when I used a pen and paper, and would do my draft with those tools, then walk home to transfer to my typewriter. Soon computers arrived and I tried to keep it up, but gradually I have gotten to the point where I just cannot write in pen anymore. I don’t have a laptop, so I no longer write in cafes. I wrote a poem about this, actually, with its earlier piece, I Write in the Laundromat. Think I’ll go post both on my blog now…thanks for the forum!

  • I can write anywhere. I believe it is when the drive to write is triggered. Something is the trigger which leads to a thought which provokes my desire to begin writing. My triggers motivate me. The trigger can be initiated by people, places, or things at any moment. Coffeeshop or autoshop; I can write anywhere.

  • I can write in any coffee shop that lets me nurse two or three (if I’m feeling particularly adventurous) cups of coffee for an interminable period. Headphones are an asset, as are wi-fi and air conditioning, but what sets it apart from writing in the comfort of home is how a lot less distracted I am.

  • Hello, fellow Freshly Pressed gal! :)
    I LOVE writing at my local coffee shop … even though I don’t drink coffee!
    As a single, working-from-home mom, I love the human contact … even if it’s only peripheral.
    I also love that my particular cafe no longer has WiFi … the people and noise I can deal with, but the allure of online sirens like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Email … THOSE will get me every time.
    Speaking of which … I have to finish my next article!

    Nice to “meet” you. Would love to connect on Facebook or Twitter if you’re there. I’m @suddenlyjamie :)
    See you ’round!

    • Hi Jamie!

      Oh the evil siren song of social media – it gets me every time :)

      I tweet as @BiblioGeek – I believe we’re following each other now. Very nice to meet you, and big congrats on being Freshly Pressed yesterday!

  • Yes! Coffee shops work for me. Sometimes the noise and movement of people coming and going makes me tune out and become intently focused on what I’m writing. I have did last few day ego.

  • I always love the idea of writing in a coffee shop, but I often just end up annoyed by the constant grinding of the espresso machine, uncomfortable chairs or the lack of enough electrical outlets.

  • “Usually by the time I finish my first cup I’m ready to head home to my computer to get some real writing done. ”

    That is me too. I used to do homework in coffee shops all the time, but now I get pretty distracted. I still like to visit the local coffee house once a week with my laptop though. It is nice to change the (peripheral) scenery on those long writing weekends.

  • I enjoy writing in certain coffee shops. One day a week I write in the coffee shop that is part of the used bookstore where I live. They are typewriter-friendly, meaning that the owners don’t mind the noise and the patrons either don’t care or they come up and talk to me. I also write by hand with a pen sometimes, too, but that happens anywhere – on the bus, at lunch during a work day, at home; I try to not be dependent on a specific location.

  • Hi, if you’re really into your story, it doesn’t matter where you write. But for the sake of time saving, write at home, set a schedule, goals, and when they’re accomplished head out to the coffee shop and dream about your story so you can write tomorrow. Janet

  • Great question! Yes. For me it is easy to write somewhere like that. Sitting back, relaxing, watching people going about their day gives me ideas. Similar to sitting in a park or on a beach. Something to think about?

  • My favourite place to write is in nature: in a park, a garden, in mountains or by a lake. The quietness and the openness connect me to my creative side.

  • Yes, I can write in coffee shops, but it has been a while, and I am fairly new to the whole writing thing. (: I also like to write outside in the peace and quiet. I think it just depends on what style I feel like writing that day, but both coffee shops and being outdoors have inspired me. Thanks for posing a great question!!

  • Great post! I’m like you – it’s too bustling to concentrate and I’d be self conscious. I’m always on the look out for a hang out but yet to find the right one. The search continues for us both – good luck!

  • Pingback: Art For Art’s Sake… Blogging For God’s Sake… « mark williams international
  • I love to write! I haven’t tried to coffee shop yet but I’m def looking forward to it. I’ve gotten some writing done at the library as most people would but the most writing I’ve gotten done would have to be in my own home. Sometimes it’s comfortable to pull out my laptop while I’m in bed and start writing but I tend to dose off from being so relaxed and what not. It’s acutally more productive when I’m sitting at my dining room table and there’s no in the house except for me and my dog. :)

  • When I’m trying to scribble ideas and don’t have any clear sense of where I want to go with what I’m writing, I prefer working in a coffee shop to working at home on my computer. Why? Because when I go to the coffee shop to write, I bring with me only a moleskine journal, a pencil, and whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. Some people find coffee shops distracting; I find that they help me focus. Unless I know exactly what I’m trying to write, home distracts me. When I’m at home, whatever I’m doing, I know that I can get up, walk to the kitchen, and grab some blackberries to snack on. If I’m working on my computer, the internet beckons to me and I feel a need to check my e-mail. Too often I succumb to the urge to step away from my computer, stroll out to the patio, and sit on a lawn chair and breathe in the fresh spring air. When I go to the coffee shop, usually in a bookstore, I leave all of these distractions behind. True, new ones confront me, but for some reason I find them to be more manageable.

    Good post!

  • I’ve tried studying in my local starbucks lol not an easy task. I, too, get distracted. But keep it going, maybe there is a secret to be revealed in terms of a bustling atmosphere being your muse.

    Good luck on your writing endeavors!

  • Writing in Coffee shops always guarantees I spend too much money on something to legitimise my sitting there. But I do find it a good place to start a story or get inspiration for characters – the people watching is the thing!

  • I love the atmosphere of the little coffee shop. I can sip and think. It started as a place to develop ideas and character traits for my little fantasy family. Then it became more than a note taking stop before hitting the computer. My laptop enjoys the aroma and conversation that hovers over the wireless wonder that helps me to create. Create entertainment for others, and a safe refuge for me.

    I like you sight

  • The only way I think it can be done is if it’s one of those smaller types. The darker settings and less hustle and bustle. You have to find the less popular one- don’t try Starbucks. Find a nice little comfy chair in a nice little comfy corner and it can work magic. Buy yourself a coffee or what you like so you are not constantly thinking about the heavenly scent over on the next table. And find the time where there are less people- stay away from morning hours.

  • This topic is such an interesting one, and I’m really glad you’ve addressed it. It seems like most people feel that this whole notion is a relatively recent phenomenon- like it just popped into our collective consciousness with the establishment of the first Starbucks, but from most of my studying, it seems like much of this idea of associating intellectualism with coffee houses dates back as far as the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment in England. You should check out some articles that were written by Joseph Addison in his Restoration newspaper entitled “The Spectator.” In some of his articles, he encourages people to begin their day by reading newspapers over breakfast and urges people to meet in coffee shops and salons to discuss social issues of the time. Apparently this was a relatively new concept in some ways. It seems this whole idea has developed largely into a cliche, but who’s to say for sure?

  • Coffeeshops are just way to busy to write in + the chairs and tables are small and sticky. I rather sitt in my kitchen. I have a hard time writing using pen and paper, I prefer my laptop.

  • If I had an ipad, I could research, write, and listen to my soothing music through my earbuds and be in my own world at a coffee shop. I think the big, comfy chairs and food available whenever you need it would be a nice change of scenery from my desk at home.

  • Interesting post – it takes a few times, but you’ll get the hang of it. It helps to take some earphones and play music on your laptop if working on one. You’ll soon drown out all the other noise. It can be quite inspirational to work in a cafe :-)

  • It is possible, but if the Internet easily distracts you, social media updates and the occasional fly buzzing by; writing in a coffee shop setting can be difficult. BUT it can also be a wonderful source of writing material. You need only listen to the conversations around you and people watch to give inspiration to your book. It could be as small as capturing how someone stands while impatiently waiting for their coffee or the way two people in love are more apt to look longingly at one another than drink their beverages. It can also help with character names if folks around you mention them. Three things for having a successful writing session at a coffee shop: 1) a comfy place to sit 2) extra pens/pencils if writing in a notebook or electrical strip if using a computer (outlets are usually limited so an electrical strip lets several people plug in 3) and of course, coffee!

  • Although I do not call me as writer but writing in crowded place with lots of distration gives me a better platform to write. It may sound strange but it is true.

  • Funny, a friend of mine shared the link to this post with me; a couple of days ago she was making fun of me and how I have my way of writing in coffee shops… LoL!!!

    I gotta admit, some days I just can’t write, work, study, read for crap because every little sound distracts me, whether it’s crowded or not, while on other days I can literally tune out all distractions except the inspirational ones, and I just lash out pages and pages of writing. It really is all about your mindset.

    A little trick that I use sometimes is that I listen to a constant Pink Noise sample on my laptop or iPod while writing, so that I can passively tune out all audible distractions. Granted this is what made my friend think of me as funny, but I am originally an engineer and this tactic is nothing but a practical application of Physics. :-)

    • Hello Johnny!

      This might date me or make me sound technically behind the times, but what is Pink Noise? I’ve heard of White Noise, but never pink (although it sounds lovely!).

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

      • Hey Carrie, don’t worry about not hearing about pink noise, it’s white noise’s less popular cousin. :-P They’re both pretty similar to each other, it’s just that pink noise is more “balanced” in its power distribution; white noise tends to be “noisier” given that it is more intense at higher audible frequencies. The practice is called sound masking, I’ve seen it being used in a few offices in the US and other worldwide.

        If you want to read more about it, you can find a lot more info on Wikipedia (and it’s accurate :-P), check these links out:

        Pink Noise
        White Noise
        Sound Masking

        I hope this helps you in finding/making the perfect location for a creatively inspirational and not too distracting environment. :-)

  • I get distracted in coffee shops, too! I prefer to write in quiet, interesting places, like a museum or the attic-like top floor of an academic building on campus. Such places have calming, almost magical atmosphere. But I find the coffee shop useful for getting inspiration, so I usually just take notes and then expand on them when I get to my writing spots. :)

  • i like writing in quiet place, or ill take some music if i feel boring. thanks share it.

  • I actually do some of my best writing while having my morning coffee at crowded coffee houses. Starbucks, Costa, Caribou, you know the list. I often do most of my writing in these places. Since I’m a coffee lover, I’m quite used to sitting down and having the coffee, and I’m also used to the noisiness, the people around me, and people curious about what I’m doing. I don’t take a pad and paper to write, rather, I usually take my laptop around and type whatever I’m in the mood to write. Writing for me comes from inspiration, and sometimes, inspiration also comes while sitting in a coffee shop. Even if I get writer’s block and stop writing while I’m in a coffee house, I can always look around. It’s fun. You never know what kinds of people you’re going to spot.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts about writing in a coffee shop. Maybe try going when it’s not as busy, that way you won’t be distracted. At Global Peace factory in Frisco, TX we try and offer a variety of different seating options so that people can choose to be away from the hustle and bustle or right in the middle of it if they want.

  • Hi Carrie! Just checked out your blog. My thoughts on writing in coffee shops is that it only works for me if I am on a “writing date” – meaning I’m meeting up with a fellow writer, and we hang out together at the coffee shop, and write. I find that the combination of: a constant flow of caffeine, the inspiration that comes from seeing someone else write, and the away from home and all the things I should be doing (cleaning, cooking, catching up on episodes of Modern Family…) aspect all culminate in the ideal writing scenario for me.

    The biggest factor for me is having someone else there, who is also writing (or even studying, or doing some other quiet work). It helps me to focus. I also MUST have my laptop with me. The idea of writing in a notebook and then transferring it to my computer sends shudders up and down my spine. And also gives me phantom hand cramps… But that’s just me. I know plenty of people that LOVE writing in a notebook.


    • Hi Hayleigh! Thanks so much for stopping by! I have never considered a writing ‘date’ with another writer. I do meet writer-friends at coffee shops, but it’s always to talk shop. Great idea!

      I do all of my more “serious” writing on the computer, but I sometimes jot down ideas and scenes in notebooks, so I think that makes me somewhere in between a hand writer and a hard-core typer. Perhaps a laptop in a coffee shop would be key for me, now that you mention it.

      Nice to meet you outside of FB!

  • ทัวร์สิงคโปร์,ทัวร์ยุโรป,ทัวร์ฮาร์บิน,ทัวร์พม่า says:

    I couldn’t write in public, I need to isolate myself and have complete quiet to get “in the zone.” Even having my husband in the room bothers me. During summer break, I have to write early in the morning or after my daughter goes to bed.

  • Sometimes home is so distracting for me. Then a coffee shop is perfect.
    Once I make the decision to go I’m pretty good. The first few times I went I did feel a little weird not being there socially. But that changed quickly as I saw other people reading, on their laptops, so why can’t I be comfortable with my laptop or my notebook??? I CAN!!! YEAH.
    I love Second Cup at Sunridge Mall and up at West Hills …. and Good Earth in Creekside. Starbucks doesn’t work and I’ve tried several but they are not for me. I think one thing that works is sticking to the same place…. it won’t take long until there is not much new to look at and be distracted by.
    I guess what matters it that we write… wherever it works for us.
    Thanks Carrie.

    • Hi Rona! You found me! :)

      Thanks so much for commenting. I have been trying out a few coffee shops lately. Recently I’ve found that Phil & Sebastian is a great place for reading our stories for class. I’ll have to try some of your tips this weekend though. Talk soon!

  • Pingback: Coffee Shops

Comments are closed.