How to write a book at a coffee shop

Sometimes, in order to achieve great things, you have to get out of your own way. When it comes to writing a book, that could mean leaving your home for the afternoon and going somewhere with no distractions (and preferably no Wi-Fi) so you can simply concentrate on writing. 

I recently started going to cafés again to write. I used to do this sporadically when I needed a change of scenery, but lately I've found it to be a great device for getting some real, concrete writing done. When you go to a coffee shop, there's no phone ringing, no social media notifications blipping, and no cat chasing the mouse cursor around the screen. It's just you and a latte, and perhaps a gluten-free cookie, with all kinds of time to kill.


Here are my top 5 tips for finding the best coffee shop to write in:

1. Location: There are lots of great urban coffee shops around but not all of them have free parking, which is a must-have. You can't leave your laptop and belongings on the table to feed the meter every hour. Instead, do a Google Maps search for coffee shops near your house and find one that's within walking distance or at least one that offers free parking on the street or nearby.

2. Noise level: You actually want a fair amount of clatter in the coffee shop in order to create a layer of ubiquitous white noise. Too little noise and you'll hang on every word said between the couple at the table next to you; too much noise and you'll feel claustrophobic.

3. Enjoy the coffee/tea: Every coffee shop has a unique blend of coffee and tea, so pick one that you actually like to drink. Tim Hortons (new Dark Roast just added), Starbucks (strong coffee, fancy drinks), Second Cup (great teas), David's Tea (ultimate tea leaf experience), Bridgehead (yum, yum, organic), local diner (cheap) get the picture.    

4. Comfortable seating and table space: If you plan to spend an hour or more at a coffee shop, you need to have a comfortable work set-up. Look for a place that offers a chair with a backrest and a table that's big enough for your laptop, mouse, papers, coffee and snack. 

5. IT preparedness: Before leaving home, make sure to charge your laptop so you can write for a couple of hours before the battery dies. You may want to bring a portable mouse if you have one. Also, set your phone to silent and whatever you do, do not connect to the free public Wi-Fi. Pretend it's a zombie apocalypse and it doesn't exist. 

Happy writing, everyone!

Stacey D. Atkinson is a freelance editor and author of Stuck, a novel she published via her independent company Mirror Image Publishing. 

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