Tip of the Day: When you attend your first ever book club meeting and you offer a recommendation of a great women’s fiction author, make sure to get the name right and not send everyone off looking for the main character of your last novel.
I think I’ve mentioned it on A2A before but if I haven’t, I’ll tell you now. I do all of my writing in cafés. Really. I have tried to write in other places and it just doesn’t work out for me. Home=No. There are three super adorable distractions there that keep me from being very productive in the writing sense. Although, I have managed to get some line editing done at home. Go figure. Library=Nah. I tried it once and it was just so uncomfortable. And it is like, a mob scene in there on the weekends with people lining up for the Internet access. Hotels/B&Bs=No. The reason? I don’t get to go anywhere! :-) Refer back to the three adorable distractions I mentioned above. I did go on one writing retreat for a weekend last year and managed to get a good chunk of writing done. So this one could also be a yes if I could figure out how to get away more. But back to writing at cafés. Sometimes I wonder why I can get so much work done there. Because I really do get a lot done with my trip or two to Starbucks a week. It’s like every minute of my three hours is jam-packed with productive writing. Never mind the constant noise from the music they always have pumping or the chatter of all the other customers. For some reason that stuff doesn’t bother me.
A couple of months ago my friend and fellow YA writer Amanda Morgan blogged about how writing at Starbucks was difficult for her. This gave me the idea for today’s post. Since I’m there so often, I figured I’d share my tips for writing in a café successfully.
1) Scope out the place first.
Does this sound weird? Maybe. But it gives you an excuse to stop in for a coffee anyway. Before you try to write in a café you need to know it a bit. So try a few different Starbucks/Caribous/Paneras or whatever. Get a coffee and sit down. Evaluate the room—Is there good seating? How big of a table will you need? Does the sun stream in right at your perfect writing spot? If so, look at the shade and figure out how to close it (yeah, I really do this kind of stuff. And note: Starbucks people do not care if you close their shade where you are sitting.) And MOST importantly, where are the outlets to plug in your laptop? You’ll want to know exactly where to go the first time you go there to write.
2) Go to the bathroom first.
Now I sound like your mother right? But you should go to the bathroom before you ever get there or as soon as you enter the café. Like, before you even order your drink. This will avoid situations like the one Mandy mentioned in her blog on what to do if you have to go the bathroom while you are writing. And if you do have to go to the bathroom then definitely bring your stuff with you. I don’t pack things up—I just pick up my laptop (still open), my wallet, and keys and carry everything with me. I leave something like my jacket or empty bag to hold my spot.
3) Pick a seat.
Having anyone read over your shoulder will drive you nuts. And it is creepy. So pick a seat at a table where preferably your laptop screen is facing you and a wall.
4) Bring your own water.
This is me trying to maximize on the most time possible here. You should still buy a coffee or whatever when you get there (and leave the empty cup on your table. A sorta hey—I paid to sit my butt here sign to the world.). But it won’t last the entire three hours and who can afford to keep buying coffees? I always bring my water bottle with me when I write.
5) Be nice to the baristas
I still haven’t run into a mean one and I’ve written in a number of cafés. But once you pick out your favorite café to write in you’ll be seeing the same baristas a lot so make friends. If they are anything like mine, they’ll even be supportive and promise to buy your books and give you yummy samples.
That’s it for my tips on what works for me. Did I miss anything? Any of you other café writers want to pipe in if I did? If you aren’t a café writer, where do you do your writing? And are you going to try out the cafés now? :-)
Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub