Saturday, October 30, 2010

Location, Location, Location

Finding the perfect writing atmosphere can be tricky. I am a coffeehouse writer. I like the background noise, the mellow music, all of the accessible caffeine. But finding the perfect coffee locale is made more difficult when your search takes place in the suburbs.

In my glory days of city living, I had an endless selection of quiet, but not too quiet, hip, but not too crowded options. If I were in downtown Chicago right now, I know exactly where you would find me (assuming that someone else was watching the kids and I had already done the grocery shopping). And if my first choice was too busy, I can think of five or six suitable back-ups that would provide everything I look for in a writing location.

Alas, I am no longer living in the city. While I do adore the area in which I live, my choice of coffeehouses has been significantly reduced. I live near a couple of large coffee retailers, but the closest independent coffeehouse is a good 20 minute drive. Is it worth the trip? Yes!

I am not one of those people who refuses Starbucks or Caribou because they are too established, but most of their locations just don't have the right vibe for me. In fact, one of my first choices downtown would be Argo Tea, which has become quite a prolific chain since I lived in the city.

The little independent coffeehouse I frequent has a feel that I like. The chairs are super comfortable. The music is good enough that I am not too annoyed that I have forgotten my headphones (I always do). The barista knows that I like my drinks scalding hot. Most importantly, I seem to get a lot done when I am there. I get bursts of inspiration and venture off on little writing tangents that take my stories to places I hadn't anticipated.

Do I make the trip whenever I write? No. I have to save it for special occasions or desperate measures. If inspiration is evading me, it is a great place to go, but sometimes I have to settle for a nearby Starbucks or *gasp* stay at home and write.

Being a parent means that I can't always get away. I have had to adapt my writing and thought process to allow for a different ambience that includes screaming children and my regular desk chair. At least I still have access to caffeine.


  1. Laura, that's weird. I demand absolute silence before I can write. I do however find pubs useful for plotting, daydreaming, or jotting down ideas. And Beer has the advantage of not going cold - unlike coffee which you're forced to drink hot and then buy another. All together too expensive for me :)

  2. Ah, I have found a coffee place that will reheat my coffee for me!

    I have had to settle into writing at home now that I have started NaNoWriMo. Otherwise, my family would think I had abandoned them. I have created a nice playlist to drown out the kids. The kind of music that you hear without really listening to.

    Absolute silence always reminds me of study hall in high school, which automatically makes me want to do anything other than the task at hand!