Quick! What do you think of when I say “writer”?
Maybe you think old men with wispy white hair and nice sport coats. Pencils. Typewriters. Coffee.
Coffee? Yeah, statistics show that a good percentage of you thought of hipsters in the local coffee shop (not Starbucks, God forbid), typing away at their word processors and generally looking pretty pretentious in their glasses and their scarves and their flannel. Trust me, I have lived in both Seattle and the writing capitol of the world: I have seen all of this and more.
The question is, why? Why do writers flock to coffee and coffee shops of all things?
In my own experience, the answer is simply the atmosphere. First of all, getting outside the house, anywhere, is a great way to cut back on distractions. A lot of places have wi-fi, yes, but if you can resist that temptation, you’re golden. It’s a lot harder to procrastinate when you’re stuck in a chair amongst strangers. Away from the house, you’re away from messy rooms and homework and friends that all vie for your attention and seem doubly interesting when you’re faced with massive writer’s block.
Now, I’ve only just started trying out coffee, but I understand the idea behind it. Having something to snack on or drink is pretty essential to long writing sessions. You don’t want to be interrupted by such a trivial thing as a craving. Coffee, hot chocolate, and tea are all beautiful in the sense that they require slow consumption and therefore last a long time. And, if you’re anything like me, little treats like that serve as incentives and rewards—finished a paragraph? Take a sip of coffee!
As for the origins of this phenomenon, I think we can look back about 300 years. 18th century coffee-houses were all the rage among the “intellectuals” of the time. People—and when I say people, of course I mean well-to-do males—would gather at these coffee houses to discuss things of scholarly importance. Coffee-houses would be packed with groups debating science, law, and literature. This was a fairly radical concept and led to such publications as the Tatler and the Spectator, which in turn were the seeds of modern periodicals. This idea of the coffee-house eventually developed into what we have today. And although we may not have exclusively high-thinkers and rich men in our modern coffee-houses, our beloved Starbucks still serves as a common ground for conversation and creation.
Just think about that the next time you order your Peppermint Mocha with extra espresso.
The best part about this is that I wrote all of it in a coffee shop. Cheers.
Find out more about Nanowrimo here.
To track my progress, check out my author page.
Current word count: 9,557 / 50,000