The Pleasure Of Writing In A Café

There’s something about cafés that helps us to write. Sometimes it’s the opportunity to sit, dream and wonder. Sometimes it’s the chance to people watch, to pay attention, to be truly mindful of what’s going on – and then write what we see. Perhaps it’s something to do with the timeout signal we get in a café – away from our routines, deadlines, things we’ve got to do.

And I don’t know about you but there’s something about the environment of a café – the sounds of the coffee machine, smell of the cakes, light streaming in through lettered windows, the hubbub of conversation – that makes me want to write.

Natalie Goldberg describes this::

Writing in a café can work to improve concentration. Instead of reducing stimulation, the café atmosphere keeps that sensory part of you busy and happy, so that the deeper, quieter part of you that creates and concentrates is free to do so.

Its one of the reasons weve set aside café time in the Absorbing Writing programme – to relax, to take time out, to people watch, to be mindful, to find the creative space to write.

Notes From The Elephant House Café

Edinburghs full of literary cafés and pubs, places where famous authors have sat and penned their works. (Ill have to check with Emma whether theres any in Alghero we could check out) I popped into one on Saturday, partly because I was thinking about just this – the relationship between cafés and writing – partly because I wanted to record a message to share with you all here, oh and partly because I wanted to do some writing :-)

The voice thread below has some pictures from the Elephant House Café, one of the cafés where J.K.Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and a thread of my voice. Just press the arrow to start it playing,and itll then scroll automatically through the three pages.

Although I believe we can use our written words to create a powerful connection – and thats one of the things well be working on in the conversation – it can only take us so far. We depend on other things – photos, the sound of someones voice, to create a fuller impression until, that is, we get the chance to meet in person.

I love watching the shouting out of orders and the quickness of the barmen as they respond. I love listening to the gurgling of the coffee machines which give rhythm to my writing. And I love how sitting in the bar at different times changes what I write.

If Im in there at breakfast time, the tempo is fast-paced. In the afternoon, its more laidback as everyone steps down a gear and recovers from the post-lunch blowout. And in the evening, with a glass of red wine to hand, my writing takes on a more indulgent stance.

What does writing in a bar or cafè do for you?