Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Guest Post: Writing in a Coffee shop

This guest post comes to you via Nick Baron!

Coffee Shop Writing: The Tools You’ll Need

Writing at a cafe is an opportunity to get some work done outside of the home. If you want to go beyond a standard cup of joe, you will need a few bucks. Add a pastry, and you will spend at least a fiver. Most cappuccino cravers consider this a small price to pay for a caffeinated boost and a sweet treat. For my job at Grammarly, I interact with a lot of writers. They have given me the inside scoop on how to write at cafes and what tools they need. Here are just a few of the steps I have learned from the pros.

1. Ask before you order.
You can’t assume that every cafe has wireless internet, or that internet access is free. If you are visiting a new location, take the time to ask. If they do not have it, you can always go somewhere else. Otherwise, you will have to suffer without the Internet or go to another location after you drink your beverage.

Note: The Internet password is usually printed on your receipt or posted on the wall.

2. Invest in portable tools.
  • Portable writing devices
Most coffee shop writers use laptop computers. Tablets, even with a keyboard, are a little cramped. Charge your laptop fully at home. Even if you bring your power cord, there may be fierce competition for an outlet.

  • Headphones
Some writers like the dull hum of background noise or piped music. If you prefer, bring a pair of headphones and listen to the music of your choice. Online radio stations, like Pandora, learn your preferences and play lots of songs that you like.

  • Proofreading, thesaurus, and dictionary
Rather than weighing down your bag with style guides and books, research using downloadable or online versions of these texts. Online proofreading programs make it easy to edit on the go. Google Docs provides access to your documents on multiple computers. An app called Pocket allows you to save pages that you want to read offline.

3. Be comfy.
  • Dress in layers. You can always shed a layer if it is gets hot. Consider keeping a sweater in your car. In summer, the chilly air conditioning combined with your icy mango strawberry smoothie may be too much to handle.

4. Take advantage of the perks.
  • Does your local cafe offer a frequent customer card? You may be able to earn a discount or a free item from time to time. Some locations provide a regular discount for seniors. Around Christmastime, you may see promotions that offer a free bonus gift card of $5-10 when you buy one of a larger denomination like $25. You are not a Scrooge if you use them both for yourself! View the extra card as a discount.

  • Leave your homies at home.
You may think that it’s cool to invite a friend to meet you. You assume that you will both work on your individual projects, with just the occasional smile over the top of the monitor. Unless you have the willpower of a Zen master, however, you and your buddy may spend more time talking than working. If you are under a deadline, it is probably best to focus on your writing without the distraction of a friendly face. Meet with your buddy as a celebration for completing your project.

Cafes provide a great environment for writing. You can people-watch during your breaks from writing and avoid distractions that might crop up at home. You can sip on your tea and relax. If you will write there often, keep a “cafe” bag packed with your sweater, extra charger, and discount cards. I would ask to come along, but I already know what you should say!



Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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