It might be a cliché, but it’s true: Most of us can’t face the day without our morning cup of coffee. It’s especially true of writers, many of whom need a periodic jolt of caffeine to stay focused. Many writers go a step further and ensconce themselves in coffee shops while they work. Writers as different as Ernest Hemingway and Malcolm Gladwell have found the coffee shop environment stimulating and conducive to producing their best work. Visit almost any coffee shop, and you’ll see writers perched everywhere, typing away on their laptops. Why exactly are coffee shops so appealing to writers?
It’s a low-pressure environment.
As many writers can attest, 8 hours spent sitting in a cubicle doesn’t always result in the most productive workday. You might find yourself feeling oppressed by the thought of how many more hours you have to spend at your desk, which may in turn stifle your creative spark and leave you flailing for ideas. A coffee shop is a low-key setting, and also one that you’re likely to spend only 1 or 2 hours in—anything more is just a bonus. Once the feeling of obligation is gone, you’re free to relax and focus on your work.
It doesn’t seem like work.
There’s no way around it—writing is hard work. While there are some writers who can turn out polished first drafts without breaking a sweat, most of us have to labor long hours to come up with work we can be proud of. When you switch your surroundings from an office to a coffee shop, however, something clicks in your brain and you aren’t thinking in “work” mode any longer. Suddenly, you can relax, listen to music, and drink as much coffee as you want—without the feeling that you’re being supervised.
It’s just distracting enough.
Have you ever tried to work in total silence? If you have, chances are you found yourself getting restless and easily distracted. Working in a noisy environment such as a crowded bar or a boisterous household doesn’t usually make for a productive workday, either. In a coffee shop, you’re surrounded by just enough background noise—people talking quietly, the baristas working, customers coming and going—to provide you with a continual stream of low-level distractions. Paradoxically, this forces you to concentrate harder on the work you’re doing.
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