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Bookish Pet Peeve #11: The Coffee Shop Writer

Confession: I’ve never written a single word in a coffee shop.

Confession number two: I don’t recall ever taking a laptop inside a coffee shop.

Confession number three: I hate coffee. Like, I loathe coffee. It smells like a combination of cigarettes and skunk.

That being the case, I’m a terrible candidate to be a novelist.

From my understanding, 88% of novels are written in coffee shops. Of that 88%, about two-thirds are written in independently owned coffee shops (Starbucks is sooo corporate and all).

I could never be a novelist. In fact, I should be ashamed to call myself a writer. My coffee literacy is incredibly lacking. When I’m at Starbucks with my wife, I order a hot chocolate while my she orders a chai latte vente 3 splenda latte macchiota with chives and a dash of Tabasco.

Seriously, I think I would have an easier time learning Mandarin than understanding how to properly order coffee.

Anyway, this pet peeve isn’t so much about coffee as it is this idea that “real” writers need to fit some kind of stereotype—that’s the one that involves writing a novel on a Macbook in Starbucks (and don’t forget the hipster hat!).

Now, I’m not hating on those of you that frequent coffee shops with your MacBook. If that’s how you tap into your inner muse, then who am I to judge?

All I’m saying is that effective writing takes many forms—and while the coffee shop routine might work for you, I’d rather plop down in my chair with my laptop in my “man room.” Many famous novelists prefer to have some kind of private study in a quiet corner of their house.

This faulty idea of the coffee shop writer goes hand-in-hand with the nonsense about writers needing to find a cabin in the woods overlooking a mountain stream in order to be inspired. Silliness.

Coffee or not, I hope you have a writing spot that works for you and, most importantly, you don’t feel to go where everyone else goes just because “that’s what writers do.”

And if I didn’t make the point, I’ll let Family Guy make it for me.

Previous Bookish Pet Peeves

#10: Book Trailers

#9: Snobby Authors

#8: Preachy Authors

#7: Buying Books I Don’t Read

#6: Speed Reading

#5: The Book Borrower

#4: The One Upper

#3: The Book Snob

#2: The Nosey Over-The-Shoulder Reader

#1: Bookstore Cellphone Blabbermouth

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40 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love writing at coffee shops! And reading. Preferably not at Starbucks. Ugh, I’m such a cliche. At least I don’t wear hats, they don’t fit right. I find too many ways to distract myself at home…also the espresso is better than my beans. If only I had a mountain cabin…

    Liked by 2 people

    September 25, 2015
    • If that’s how you get inspired to write, then more power to you! Not hating…just saying it’s not the only way.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 25, 2015
  2. Hi Robert this is a good laugh – you grumpy old git! I like to write my diary up in coffee shops…Love your blog – I’m off to reblog this one to follow on from my most recent post on supporting Indie Bookstores. Why don’t you drop by and leave a supportive comment on that?

    Liked by 1 person

    September 25, 2015
  3. Reblogged this on Writing from the Twelfth House and commented:
    I’ve been following Robert’s writers’ blog for a while and would heartily recommend it to those of us fatally addicted to attempting to communicate via the spoken word. This grumpy but funny post about not writing in coffee shops ( can you believe it? This man does not like coffee! ) gave me a good giggle. Do you recognise your writing habits here? Do tell!!

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  4. The only place where the coffee actually tastes like cigarettes and skunk (in my experience) is McDonald’s. That being sad, I HAVE attempted to write in a Starbucks during NaNoWriMo about four or five years ago with my little netbook. But, as you pointed out, people’s orders are extremely long-winded and, for me, distracting to listen to. Add the sound of coffee being steamed and churned and it’s a mess of sounds. Everyone’s writing space is different (as is their beverage of choice), but I personally don’t enjoy the coffee shop as my “space.”

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  5. There you go stereotyping me. I don’t write in coffee shops. And I do not have a MacBook. Who started that rumor that writers write on MacBooks. Take them out an shoot them. And, oh yeah, to make coffee: Put three scoops into the coffeemaker and fill it with water. Plug it in and turn it on. Five minutes and you’ve got your morning coffee. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    September 25, 2015
  6. Very funny! While I do drink coffee on occasion, I am less likely to do so now that I’ve seen your description of how it smells: “like a combination of cigarettes and skunk.”

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  7. soniapmurphy #

    I’ve never written in a public place simply because I would be too self-conscious. Also, I do think I’d be seen as such a cliche that nothing of worth would be written. I do like coffee, though, yet would definitely prefer cocoa with whipped cream!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 25, 2015
  8. You did a great job writing exactly how I feel, but you were much kinder about it! I never understood studying in the college library either. 🙂

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  9. Escribo siempre desde mi casa. No café, no sombreros, solo mi lámpara y mi laptop. Para leer prefiero el bus y la tienda de té cerca a mi casa en Lima, Perú o mi casa en Bucaramanga, Colombia.
    Me encantó tu post! me reí mucho con el comentario sobre el sombrero!

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  10. Ha, this was funny. Don’t most writers write at home? Or did you mean social media writers? The people I see writing in cafes are busy commenting on FB or they’re peering dubiously at screen-filling stats.

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  11. Wait – 88% are written in coffee shops? Maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong. 🙂
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin’

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  12. 88% of novels?? really???

    I’ve tried coffee shop writing back in the days when I had noisy roommates. It’s not for me. I need a space that’s my own–where I can refill my mug as many times as I want, go to the bathroom without worrying about someone stealing my seat, peek in the fridge for leftovers… I can’t do all that in a public space.

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  13. luanna #

    I hate coffee too!! Love the smell of the beans but add water to the stuff and yuck! (I’m a barista haha)

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  14. Barbara M. #

    Well, I’m not a writer and I love coffee, but if I was writing a book I would totally prefer to do it in my house.

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  15. Oh dear well at least I haven’t got a Macbook and I wouldn’t be seen dead in a hat. I wrote my first six in a room at home but then I began to feel like company so I moved into coffee shops in the morning and home in the afternoons. It’s a sanity thing. If I stay at home all day I tend to go a bit nuts! Fortunately I do like coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 25, 2015
  16. thatpoeticeffect #

    So true. I’ve been inspired to write in the most random of places. But never once have I gotten inspired to write something in a coffee shop. 1. I first started writing in a country where people preferred to make their own coffee in their homes (now you’ll find them across the country but growing up the closest you’d come to coffee shops were tea and coffee stands where you ordered, sat at a table next to the stand and drank it or carried it with you back home) so i really would find writing in a coffee shop a bit weird. 2. If I went to the coffee shop to write just because I heard that’s what most writers do, I’d leave the shop with nothing written, i mean, think of all that pressure. Still, I guess it has to do with preference, some writers may prefer the coffee shop, some the woods, in the end, it’s what works for you that matters.

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  17. Ugh! I hate coffee too, and feel the same way! Thanks for the great post!

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  18. I do like to write in coffee shops, but only a couple. Most of them are just too busy. And even then, I’m only good for about an hour before all the noise gets too much for me. It’s a great place for me to start something new – get an outline down, a paragraph or two – and then it’s much easier to finish it at home.
    I feel the same about the public library. A good place to start a new project. But all my serious writing takes place at home.

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  19. Hahahah! I probably look like a “basic white girl” but I’m right there with you on ordering a hot chocolate. Or I like to say “same” and hope the person in front ordered something good! 😛

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  20. My only confession : “I wish i could write in coffee shop sipping my favorite cappuccino”. would that make me stereotypical ?

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  21. Depends on the subject, sometimes writing in coffee shops can be a good reminder that there are people that your writing influences.

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  22. Dominic Dayta #

    I don’t even have a “writing spot” at all. Maybe like your illiteracy to coffee that disqualifies me as a writer as well. Energy just finds me in random places. I’ve written in public transportation, while on the toilet… I don’t know. Writing is writing is writing. People who say they just HAVE to be somewhere to write… It’s not a pet peeve but I’ve never understood it at all. Haha. Great post.

    Like

    September 26, 2015
  23. I often find myself in a coffee shop with my laptop for two reasons a) because I’ve been indoors for a few days straight and am starting to suffer from cabin fever or b) there are two many people loitering about my one bedroom home who don’t understand that just because I’m physically at home doesn’t mean that I’m ‘at home.’

    Given the choice I’d love to have a ‘man room’ (or in my case a woman room) with a big sign/bouncer/dragon on the the front but space is at a premium and distractions are many.

    Yet your point is a good one – where you write is never the issue. It’s what you write that matters. No one should feel that they are less of a writer because they do so at the kitchen table and not at Starbucks.

    Like

    September 26, 2015
  24. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

    Like

    September 26, 2015
  25. I love coffee but I hate writing in public places. The most favorable setting would be sipping hot coffee at a comfortable and warm place. Hahaha that was a good post.

    Like

    September 26, 2015
  26. Guilty! I love writing in my local coffeeshop. But then again, I do also often write at home and at the library (I actually just blogged about my writing spaces over at The Debutante Ball: http://www.thedebutanteball.com/have-pen-will-write-my-writing-spaces/). I go to the library when I find I’m in a slump and I need to escape the dishes and all the other little chores that can so easily pull you away from work. I go to the cafe when I’m in a slump but also need coffee (and food–my local cafe makes the most amazing vegetarian Reuben sandwiches). Basically I’ll go wherever I need to go to get the writing done!

    Like

    September 26, 2015
  27. Haha! this was a great giggle! I can’t even read in coffee shops, I just get too distracted! go the hot chocolates though, they are the best.

    Like

    September 27, 2015
  28. Ohhhh the cabin in the woods. Many years ago my late husband had an ex-girlfriend who was an amateur writer, and he used to rave on about how great she was, and how she was going to borrow his secluded second home near Scotland, in order to find her muse. Considering that we all lived in the South East of England, I thought that she might better use the 7 hours each way trip to actually do some writing.
    Writing for me is not so much about a place as: 1) carving out and being disciplined about time management. 2) reading and thinking 3) talking and thinking 4) living and reflecting.
    Having said that, I do go and write in a coffee shop as a very occasional treat, although it would just be too expensive if that was my modus operandi.

    Like

    September 27, 2015
  29. Isn’t the point of being a writer that you do not fit into certain categories?! That said, I do love coffee and I have spent time in coffee shops writing 😀

    Like

    September 27, 2015
  30. I love coffee and I love coffee shops, but I’m pretty sure the only thing I’ve ever written has been my name on the receipt. Coffee shops just aren’t a conducive place for me to write.

    Like

    September 27, 2015
  31. Alexandra #

    Hahaha! This is funny. I never write in coffee shops, only at home. And my husband is like you, not a coffee person. The only thing he will order from Starbucks is a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino. He won’t even entertain the idea of trying something else.

    Like

    September 27, 2015
  32. I totally see where you are coming from. I do most of my writing at home, however I’m one of those that wishes I had a coffee shop to work in. (The only one close to me without getting on a bus is a Starbucks and I find their coffee gross.) I get so distracted when I’m at home. I find that coffee shops help me concentrate and keep me off of my embarrassing Windows app games 🙂 What if someone sees me!

    I do see the irritation with this cliche though. I have a lot of friends who don’t fit this mold. And since I live in Portland, OR, this stereotype tends to be amplified. Great post! Also reblogging.

    Like

    September 28, 2015
  33. Reblogged this on Roberta's Literary Ramblings and commented:
    This is a great post on an annoying stereotype about writers.

    I do most of my writing at home, however I’m one of those that wishes I had a coffee shop to work in. (The only one close to me without getting on a bus is a Starbucks and I find their coffee gross.) I get so distracted when I’m at home. I find that coffee shops help me concentrate and keep me off of my embarrassing Windows app games 🙂 What if someone sees me!

    I do see the irritation with this cliche though. I have a lot of friends who don’t fit this mold. And since I live in Portland, OR, this stereotype tends to be amplified.

    Like

    September 28, 2015
  34. This writing in a coffee shop thing isn’t a pet peeve of mine, but personally, I need to have quiet while I’m writing. I’m so easily distracted, I need my woman cave. If I’m in the coffee shop, it’s either to browse the magazine rack or to sit and people-watch, which is fodder for stories.

    Like

    September 28, 2015
  35. aLe #

    Hi everyone, in Italy in coffee shops we drink coffee. That’s all (but, of course, I’m not a novelist!).

    Like

    October 1, 2015
  36. I would have to disagree with coffee smelling like smoke and skunk. I don’t write but I read all the time and I can’t stand reading in a coffee shop. But I do have my spot to read, and your post made me laugh because my sister feels the same way about coffee as you.

    Like

    November 3, 2015
  37. Nothing done just because everybody else does it has true value and meaning. You have to find what works for you.

    Like

    June 3, 2016
  38. The Perfect Author is my favourite book. Wont take much time to read.
    https://www.theperfectauthor.in/
    Really breath holding… Waiting for the next release !

    Like

    April 14, 2017
  39. Nice blog. good work.

    Like

    May 4, 2017

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