Working in Coffee Shops

Blog No. 182

13882276_10153816945555983_2834781745208019332_nThere is a running gag on the internet and television about people with MacBooks in coffee shops. It’s funny. The idea is that people are more interested in being seen than in actually doing work. Which is sometimes the case. Coffee shops and cafes are often filled with people either getting a quick lunch, enjoying a slow coffee, or the other thing. I’ve been in many places where nearly every table is beset by a laptop wielding individual (one per table). It doesn’t matter if it’s a Starbucks or local establishment. The coffee shop is a place to be.

I am one of those people. Several times a week, I can be found at a coffee shop (usually Anchor) sipping on a mug, clacking away at my keyboard. I even have a macbook (treading on full hipster territory). I fit the stereotypical want-to-be artist with more interest in my dreams than anything practical. I spent way too much money on my computer, and I spend way too much money on coffee. It isn’t strictly practical, but it’s easy to justify. (I found it easy at least).

12507529_10153406928145983_2902907355211997313_nI’ve learned a lot about coffee since I started my habit. I can tell the difference between an African brew and a South American one. I can even give a description of taste and flavours that a real connoisseur can understand. I’m not so different from most people in that I need a cup of coffee in the morning to get going. I split away in that I genuinely enjoy the beverage. I take it black, and I am not scared of it cooling off on me. Because of my penchant for the drink, I am willing to spend more on a quality cup (while not shying away from cheap, quick alternative when necessary). So my love for coffee is part of why I like to go to cafes with my computer to write.

Imagine you are at home. You have desk set up in your room, along with everything else you own. Now sit at that desk and work. Some people have no problem doing this. Some excel at it. I can’t do it to save my life. Sure, I can putter around, typing a few hundred words before I get distracted. Then it’s all I can do to sit there and work. Out of nowhere, I have to clean, or I’m hungry, or thirsty. I have to go to the bathroom, or I think I hear a noise, so I check to see if someone knocked at the door. Literally anything rather than sit and work. I don’t have a dedicated office, so I could blame that, or I could go to a coffee shop and actually get something done. A coffee is cheap when it comes with several hundred words (or more). Plus, places like Anchor are filled with awesome people. I’ve met more artist and supporters there than I ever would sitting at my desk.

Sometimes it’s a convenience thing. I particularly like working with someone. That is, working at the same time as another writer. I’m not sure why it helps, other than maybe the competition or something. I do know that when I hit the end of a run and look up from my screen to see someone typing furiously away, I am more likely to get back to it myself. Often I’ll mean Christian at the closest Tim’s. There is a space at his house where we can work, but I think he goes through some of the same things I do (and likes to go out to work).

I’m sure if I had a dedicated place to go work, I’d do that. But I don’t, so a coffee shop works for now. While some people do it to be seen, I have a book to show for it (and one on the way, mostly written at Anchor). Also, I do make connections (see the previous parentheses). The musician who played the No Light Tomorrow launch is a dedicated Anchor patron. The whole deal was done at the counter over a cup of coffee.

People like to talk, and people like to dream. There are plenty of both, but not everyone follows through with it. I’m still early in my career, and I could (and likely will) stumble, but so far I’ve managed to get some real work done. Most of that work has been accomplished in a café with a cup of joe in one hand and the keyboard under the other. It works for me. I do see the people looking to be seen, but they don’t bother me. I get to laugh at them too, interested more in talking than doing. I hope they get to it one day. There is plenty of room.

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