Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fabulosities--Writing in the coffee shop

I am definitely going to add Andrew McAleer's book to my home writing library (the copy I'm using now is from the actual county library.) It's a great dip-in-for-inspiration kinda book.

This week, I'm featuring a quote from YA Fantasy author, Cinda Williams Chima:
A fiction writer is never entirely alone. Her characters are constantly whispering in her ear. Writing is not a social endeavor. It requires solitude--a meeting between you and your characters on their turf. Some of us can find solitude in a crowded cafe or the local mall. And none at home.

I'm with Cinda on the constant whispering. (To my wife: That's why you sometimes think I'm not listening to you, honey.) It's not spooky psychotic or anything. It's just when you are creating, you are always thinking about what your characters might be doing or saying now. You sort of get lost in your own (and the characters') world.
(N.B. Kind people call this FLOW.)

And yes, it can happen amid the bustle of a coffee shop. Actually, there's something about the bustle and conversation of strangers that sends me into Flow fast. (Perhaps my new psychologist friend, Sarah Fine, can tell me if there's a reason for this--or if it's just my imagination.)

I can work at home. But the laundry tends to cry out, the weeds in the garden taunt me, and the kids wheedle until the babysitter (a.k.a. television) gets switched on. [See, I told you I was surrounded by voices.]

Where do you write? Does it have to be quieter than a pin-drop quiet, or can you burnish your brilliant sentences to the backdrop of a brass band (or any other racket?)


  1. I wake up around 6 am, fix breakfast and get to work until about ten, when hubby wakes and strolls in to announce himself and break my flow. I hang out on a stressless chair ( I swear by it) with a laptop in a garden room that gets plenty of light.

    I can write after ten somewhere else on the property. But seriously, four hours is all my body can take in a sitting position.

  2. I agree when I am in the mode of creating I don't think, hear, smell or see the things around me. It is important to get to these points to truly create.

  3. It depends whether I'm thinking hard or have got into the flow of writing. For example, I'm sort of watching Shrek at the moment and idling . . .

  4. I've never been able to be productive in a coffee shop. Not sure why, as I know a lot of people swear by them.

    I usually prefer a room overflowing with books. At least that way, the distractions are usually productive distractions...

  5. I try to write somewhere semi-quiet, but when the juices are really flowing it doesn't matter. I can tune out anything.

  6. I suspect it's an individual difference. When I'm in a coffee shop, I feel tense and unable to write. I write at home, in my room, listening to loud music, happy to be alone. I do need the auditory input, but it has to be of a certain type. Interesting idea, though. I shall ponder some more ...

  7. Thanks for all the comments, people.

    rosaria: I want to come and write with you. (Now coveting a stressless chair!) And your hubby wakes at 10! Man, does he teach sleeping lessons?

    Josh: you sound like me.

    jabblog: Writing to Shrek sounds cool!

    Hektor: those books do call out to me too!

    Charlie: yay for tuner-outers!

    Sarah: I suspected it was all about individual differences. Funnily enough, I can't write with loud music. It just makes me want to get up and dance. Now, soft classical strains are a different story...

  8. I find it very difficult to write at home. I always feel like I should be doing something else. And too many distractions!

    My favorite place to write is at my library. It's amazing how productive I am when I can sneak in a few writing hours between work and school pick up.

  9. I go to coffeeshops and restaurants to find language
    bits of conversation that I may turn into a story
    It is amazing how much people details..I like to write it in a journal
    But actually writing...home shut off
    door locked..

  10. I need to be away from as many distractions as possible when I am writing and for this reason I like to write in the buff.

    I do have a small blanket to stop my laptop roasting my chestnuts but an advantage is I have a natural place to hold some mini doughnuts for sustenance.

  11. Found you via Suzie's blog. Great post.

    I do best with quiet--meaning people aren't actively trying to engage me in conversation. I have my office in my basement. If I'm just editing, I can usually get away with bringing my laptop into the livingroom while hubby watches a movie.

  12. I tend to bag out the most words sitting at my desk at work (shhh) surrounded by chaos, but the best ideas and bits of prose come to me when I'm alone, and it's very quiet.


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