Tips for finding the perfect cafe for writing
I’m one of those café writers. I can’t concentrate well at home, partially because I have so many roommates. Also because my bed is right next to my desk. Guess which one wins out?
So, since I don’t want to nap my writing time away, I am a coffee shop hopper. Here are some tips from my experiences.
1. Test it out. Specifically to see when it’s busiest and when it’s quiet. There have been studies that show a little background noise is helpful for you to get down to work, but I believe it depends on the person. Screaming babies don’t really help me concentrate. I’ve found it’s usually quieter in the morning with people stopping in and out just before their commute. If you can wake up, go there for an hour writing sprint before work.
2. Check for Wi-Fi if you need it. Sometimes it’s better if you don’t have it, so you won’t get distracted but I always get that itch to check how things are going in internet world or I can’t concentrate on anything. I prefer my Wi-Fi free and fast enough for online radio streaming like Pandora. Skipping on the radio is no fun, and that happens when the café is more crowded.
3. Outlets. I always do a sweep when I’m in a new place to see where the seats are that are closest to the outlets and if they’re taken. I have an old laptop that won’t get very far without. There’s nothing worse than buying your coffee and sandwich and realizing there’s nowhere to camp out.
Check your bag before you leave the house, you’ll need:
I. Computer with plug. Don’t forget your chargers. It really sucks to get somewhere only to realize you forgot something crucial.
II. Writing tools in case there are no outlets available. Even at a place you’re a regular this can sometimes happen.
III. Extra writing tools. A pen that won’t write or running out of paper when you’re really in the groove can really put a crimp in your productivity.
IV. Noise reducing headphones: I bought these accidentally, as I was just aiming for regular/cheap headphones, but they are invaluable when there are inevitably obnoxious people in your vicinity. Just turn your music on for a little while and you can probably outlast them.
V. Money. The café people are usually really nice, but most tend to get irritated if you don’t buy anything once in a while. At least get a coffee to earn your spot.
a) I tend to use the weekends as a full writing workday, meaning I’m at the local watering hole for six hour stretches. If I didn’t buy anything I would probably feel less than welcome at the smaller independently owned shops that I love. If you buy coffee or food, no one will bother you.
b) Stake out your spot before you order so you don’t get scooped, but choose wisely. If it’s crowded it’s probably not the best idea to take up a four person booth by your lonesome. Better to get a small table and not get glared at. Glaring always distracts me.
c) My final advice if you’re a café writer, make friends with your local coffee shop owners and crews. They’ll probably be seeing a lot of you.
Recommendations for Boston Area Writers:
Chains are great in a fix, but I like supporting independently owned coffee shops
- Fuel America Cafe – 152 Chestnut Hill Ave, Brighton
- Olea Cafe – 195 Washington Street, Brookline
- Cafe Nation – 380 Washington Street, Brighton
- Diesel Cafe – 357 Elm Street, Davis Square