002. | Writers & Cafes

A few weeks ago one of my close friends (also a writer) and I sat down to have one of our last writing sessions at our favourite coffee shop. It wasn’t closing, not for permanent, but instead it was going under renovations for the entire month of November. The month where I run write-ins for my regional chapter of National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo).

We were sitting at our favourite table, which probably won’t be there when the renovations are done and it had me thinking. Him and I met at that coffee shop while we were both writing. We had our specific tables, which were different from the table we current sat at. He said he had seen me a few times and wanted to ask if I was also a writer and it wasn’t until him and his friend had come in to have coffee, not write, that my phone went off and everyone heard my Teen Wolf ringtone. Since the three of us were fans of the TV show, that was what made us start talking and we have been friends since.

Him and I met while writing at a coffee shop. We wouldn’t have met if either of us could focus at home and thus, get our writing done at home, so I asked him why he felt he could only write at the coffee shop and not at home. We had the usual answers to this: distractions at home aren’t there at the coffee shop. I had some valid points as well: cafe wifi is generally terrible so you’re not able to stream Netflix and normally, there aren’t outlets so you can’t just plug in and play video games when you need to conserve battery power for writing.

I even Googled this and found that other writers also had the same question: what is it about coffee shops that gets us writing? In an age where there are apps and websites to stimulate the ambience of coffee shops and yet, using them, we still cannot focus at home.

My best explanation is the story of how (and why) I began writing at coffee shops.

It is day thirteen of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and my word count is currently at 112, 937 words. Nanowrimo’s “goal” is 50k words, and I’ve surpassed that by 62.9k – which isn’t so surprising for me.

Over the last few years, my then-untreated ADHD symptoms became worse and started to wreak havoc on my memory, as well as severely limiting my ability to focus on any task for longer than a few minutes and perhaps worst (and most dangerous of all) – rendering me incapable of living any sort of life that wasn’t filled to the brim with severe brain fog (to the point where, if I didn’t have music playing over my headphones when I went out, I would be so unfocused that I would walk into traffic at cross walks rather than thinking to stop and check if the lights were red or green for me).