How to Write in a Café or Coffee Shop — Áine Greaney

5 Tips for Writing in a Café or a Coffee Shop

  • Music and masks: Unless you write well amid noise, if the music is too loud or piped right onto the outdoor patio, it will drive you to distraction, not creativity. Here’s a tip: Never, ever leave home without a set of noise-blocking ear plugs. I keep mine in my wallet. Or headphones. If you need music or white noise while you write, it should be your chosen genre and volume. Oh, and as for those protective face masks? I won’t write on that here, except to suggest that you read the trending health-news on our latest COVID risks.
  • Layout and Tables: At my local coffee haunt, they have two large tables named “The Coffice (get it?).” They also have excellent COVID infection-control protocols in place. At one of those ‘coffice’ tables, there’s enough room to spread out your journal, drafts, pens and laptop. I love it there. Also, check if your potential café tables are crushed too closely together (for infection control and writing reasons). Finally, choose a table situated as far away from the counter queue as possible.
  • Good WiFi Connection: This will depend on your current writing project. If you’re drafting or editing, you may want to be cut off from all digital distractions, including the internet. But sometimes, even when you’re in the writing ‘flow,’ you may need to quickly check some fact or a random detail. Bottom line: It’s better to have WiFi than to wish you had.
  • General Café Ambiance and ‘Fit:’ One writer’s haven is another writer’s hell. It could be as literary or mythical as Simone de Beauvoir’s famous Café de Flore. Or, I once had a writing student who exclusively wrote in her neighborhood fast-food chain restaurant (hint: this chain has yellow arches). So if you’re starting out, prepare to do a little Goldilocks-styledcafé hopping until you find one that feels just right for you and your writing.
  • Find Ways to Save Money: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for authors and writers is approximately $67,000 per year. Now wait. Before you wonder why your last memoir or poetry chapbook or novel didn’t yield that much income, the Bureau conflates non-creative (copywriting, bloggers, marketers et al) and creative writers (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, play and other writers).



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Aine Greaney

Aine Greaney

Irish author, workshop leader in Boston area. Fifth book, “Green and Other Essays” just released. More at