Unsolicited Endorsement: Writing in the coffeeshop


It’s fitting that I tucked my laptop under my arm and headed out the office door to write this piece. I’m now taking up space at the Green Bean, knocking back an iced coffee and letting the words pour forth.

It’s so easy to make fun of the coffeeshop writer, furiously pecking away at his computer while sucking back refillable mugs of java, hoping against hope that someone will ask him what he’s working on.

But I launched my North Carolina freelance career right here more than 15 years ago, powered by caffeine and optimism, and because it was cheaper than renting office space. I write in coffeeshops all the time, especially when I’m on the road and need to get some work in, or when I’m jammed up on a story and need a change of scenery, or when everybody around me is driving me nuts and I need to disappear for a few.

Like now.

And I’m not alone. As I sit here now there are no fewer than seven similarly frustrated scribes pecking away at their sentences while drinking refills and surreptitiously glancing around the room. Because writing in a coffeeshop is so much more than a cliché — though it is indeed that. It is also a time-honored tradition — Hemingway wrote in coffeeshops, as did F. Scott Fitzgerald. The efficacy of their work speaks for itself.

A tip, though: Bring some headphones. Because I just spent about 40 minutes talking to a friend about nothing that has anything to do with this piece, totally losing my groove on it. Which means I broke the cardinal rule of writing in the coffeeshop; writing and talking are not the same thing. In some ways, they’re complete opposites.