When I first started writing, I thought only poseurs wrote in coffee shops. And while you may still find a lot of performative laptop users in your local branch of Starbucks or Costa, it turns out they’re also pretty good places in which to get stuff done.
This morning, instead of heading home after taking my daughter to school, I made for the nearest coffee shop instead. I haven’t done this since before the first lockdown, and it was even better than I remembered.
I deactivated the mobile data on my phone and didn’t bother connecting my laptop to the free Wi-Fi. Thus cut off from the distractions of home and social media, and buoyed by readily available quantities of tea, I managed to get done in a morning what would usually take me all day.
There’s something about the ambient background noise in a coffee shop that screens out distracting thoughts, promotes creativity, and improves concentration.
The other patrons can also be a source of inspiration. You can steal a description from one, a speech pattern from another. Snippets of conversation percolate down into your work. But most of all, especially in the morning, there’s a buzz of energy to the place that can lift you up with it.
Today, people were stopping in on their way back from dropping their kids at school, or pausing for a drink on their way to the gym. The sun was shining and everyone seemed in a good mood as they took a few minutes to meet and catch-up with friends before starting the week – such a contrast from the dreary Monday stereotype of office life.
Talking of office life, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain focus as a freelancer, but I’ve found the other patrons fulfil the same function my co-workers used to fulfil in the days before I went freelance. Their presence keeps me accountable, as I don’t want them to see me slacking off – or worse, mistake me for a posturing hipster.
So, now I have a new routine. I’m going to try to get out every morning and get my daily words written before I return home to tackle the housework, admin, and million other distractions that might otherwise derail me.
How about you? Will you join me, or do you find writing in public unproductive? Where do you need to be to avoid distractions and actually get work done?