pic from microsoft word clip art

One of my goals for this spring break was to take my laptop to a coffee shop and write.  Just about every time I enter into a coffee shop, I see people with laptops.  Clearly, there is a portion of the population who find them productive places to work, and I wanted to see if it worked for me, if pushing myself out of my quiet writing comfort zone worked or if I found it horribly distracting.

When I told my husband my plan, he responded by telling me about his good friend who works in coffee shops just so he can check out all the good looking moms who go in during the work day to meet with their friends though my devoted hubby swears he’s never carted his laptop into Starbucks to work.  Hmmmm.

My concerns with writing in a public place were that I’d see people that I know since I live and teach in a small town.  I worried that I’d spend my entire allotted writing time catching up with someone.  I was also concerned that it might be too noisy or that I’d spend my entire time watching everyone else since I am an avid people watcher.  My last concern was that I’d feel self-conscious and silly trying to write in public and that would squash my creativity.

I hoped that the change in venue would jumpstart the writing goals I had set for this week off of work, so Saturday afternoon, I packed up my clipboard filled with paper, my favorite writing pen, my favorite writing book for when I’m stuck, and my laptop.  I wanted all bases covered.  I chose a smaller shop for my experiment, and I went all the way to town, forgoing the small shop in my community, in which I was sure to see friends or students.

When I first walked in, I knew the first person I saw, the cashier.  Uh oh. She greeted me by name and began to chat, so I decided to sit on a couch out of sight of the front counter though knowing her did come in handy when she called out, “Amy, these your keys on the counter?” They were.

I ensconced myself in the rear corner of the shop on a comfy couch, and I didn’t feel self-conscious at all.  I began by writing by hand which I often do, but quickly switched to my laptop.  The words flowed. A few people came in and out of the shop, but it was relatively quiet other than the employees chatting.  I ended up writing over 1800 words and liking what I wrote. For me, this is a successful writing session.

I’m not sure that writing in a public place is something I would want to do every day or even every month, but to jumpstart my writing, it worked.

Apparently, my muses like the occasional latte too.  They definitely came to visit.

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  1. thebitchybride on April 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Yay, I’m glad you had a productive session. I’ve just found your blog and am excited to follow you on your novel-writing journey.

    The problem I find with writing in coffee shops is I’m completely inconsistent. Sometimes I go and get loads done, but if I turn up and decide something’s not quite right – bad coffee, wrong music, too hot, too cold, no wifi, wifi’s too distracting – I shut down and don’t do anything. At least if I’m at home I can move to a different room or take a break to shake myself out of any kind of excuse not to write.

    • Amy Isaman on April 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      I’m glad you found me too! I was happy and a little surprised to be as productive as I was as well. I’ll have to try it again in a different spot to check on the consistency thing, but isn’t it like that for every writing session? Sometimes, as you say, I get loads done, but sometimes, I’m completely distracted by every little thing: my kids, the dogs, what I’m having for dinner, the laundry etc. Perhaps its more of a mind set thing then a place thing. I hadn’t really thought about that, but its a good point. Thanks for visiting!

      • thebitchybride on April 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

        You’re so right. I’m perfectly capable of procrastinating when I’m at home too… um, like now!

        • Amy Isaman on April 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm

          I’m right there with you. It’s spring break – supposed to be getting all kinds of writing done . . . not happening . . . yet!

  2. Claire 'Word by Word' on April 4, 2012 at 7:04 am

    That sounds great, you know where to escape to when and if required and knowing the cashier is a good thing because at least they are not going to kick you out for not continuing to spend.

    I like to go to the local library as well and was all set for it on Monday when I had some free hours only to remember halfway there that they are not open on a Monday!

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