COFFEEHOUSE TIME | The Art of Showing Up

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013 in Writing | 6 comments

I've written many a blog post in coffeehouse time

I’ve written many a blog post in coffeehouse time too.

A few weeks ago, Ramona DeFelice Long, fearless leader of the How Many Pages Did You Write Today? Facebook group asked us when we write best. In an ideal world, I’d awaken when I’m well-rested (wouldn’t that be fabulous?), and with coffee in hand, write through the morning when my brain’s fresh and my inner critic is still asleep.

Alas, my life isn’t ideal for writing at the moment. Too much day-job. I’m working on this–believe you me I am!–but for now I have to employ tricks to make time for fiction. One of my favorite tricks is the coffeehouse. Thinking about Ramona’s question, I realized that I have a special time called “coffeehouse time.” Actual clock time doesn’t matter. Settling myself at a coffeehouse automatically transitions my brain into writing mode.

There have been many coffeehouses over the years. Sometimes I sit outside.

There have been many coffeehouses over the years. Sometimes I sit outside.

It’s equivalent to falling asleep as soon as I settle into an airplane seat. After oodles of travel, I’ve trained my brain to knock off.

Sometimes the décor could use a little help.

Sometimes the décor could use a little help.

Same thing with coffeehouses, except I’ve trained my brain to fiction on. It’s basically the art of showing up. These days I’m doing my best to show up for my work-in-progress called GREY MAN. I feel sorry for it because between the day-job, my aged mom, life in general, and debut novel tasks, I’ve been neglecting it.

Here’s an example of coffeehouse time in action: It’s the end of the day, and all I want to do is chillax in front of the telly, maybe watch an episode of “Dexter.” After that, the novel I’m currently reading beckons. There’s nothing wrong with going to bed at eight to read for two hours, is there? Naaah…And that’s how it goes. Maybe I’m fundamentally unfocussed or distractible or lazy or undisciplined, but at times like that there’s no way I’m going to write if I stay at home. Once I force myself out the door, into the car and then into a coffeehouse, fancy that, I’m fine. I may need to stare out the window for a bit, but that’s OK. I’ve shown up.

Sometimes there's a shop dog. (This is Kodi.)

Sometimes there’s a shop dog. (This is Kodi.)

That’s coffeehouse time. It works for me. And we do whatever works to get our writing in, don’t we?

Sometimes I resort to red wine.

Sometimes I resort to red wine.

Any time’s a good time to write when I’m in a coffeehouse. No ideal world necessary!

6 Comments

  1. I first learned the magic of coffee shop time during NaNoWriMo, the combination of which turns writing into a social event. Now that I have peace, quiet and time at home during the mornings, I find that I can’t concentrate in coffee shops as well, so that’s when I work on blogs, outlining and such. It’s a great way to force myself to write outside of my usual box.

    • I envy you your quiet mornings at home. THAT’S the ideal. Sigh…NaNo is great for coffeehouse time…all those bustling fingers. Jeez, I’ve gotta think about whether I want to do NaNo this year!

      It’s so easy to get stuck inside our usual boxes, isn’t it?

  2. I love coffeehouse writing, and it broke my heart when our local B&N closed, because my writing in their cafe time disappeared. I have not yet found a replacement, but I do travel from library to library like a writing gypsy.

    I work at home, and while that is wonderful in some ways, it’s a challenge too. A while ago, I heard about a plein air painters group–a small group of painters who travel to different places to paint in open air. I thought this was a wonderful idea, so I’m in the early stages of putting together a plein air writers group, where we can meet at different outdoor parks, museums, etc., and write in nature. I wish you were close enough to join in, Lisa!

    • Thanks for visiting, Ramona! Oh man, I’d love to join your plein air writers group! 🙁 That’s a great idea. I’m lucky that Portland is the grand little city of indie everything — we’ve got coffeehouses out the kazoo. In a pinch, I do libraries too. 🙂

  3. This is so me, right down to the fact that I sometimes go to coffee shops that serve wine! I have a 2-year-old at home, so I need to get away to get anything done.

    • Hi. Susan! Thanks for visiting. Frankly, I’m in awe of moms with young kids who still manage to write regularly.

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