Monday, June 10, 2013

Cafe Crawl and Writey Things

Phew, what a weekend!

So the sad day in Whoville fact is I did not make it to Vlogger Fair. I was literally crouched over EDI (mah sexy new tiny laptop of win) all weekend in various coffee shops.

How was it, you beautiful people? I confess, I wasn't really even on twitter during that time. Tell me everything!

I went off the grid for a very simple reason: I had a deadline.

Oh... Deadlines.

Unlike Douglas Adams, I don't have the luxury (yet) of listening to them whoosh past me.

So I started what I will affectionately refer to as "The Cafe Crawl" (get it, get it? Kinda like a pub crawl but... oh shut up, I'm tired.) because I find my best work-mode writer focus when I'm listening to the murmur of life and clink of coffee cups.

I began in one local coffee shop early in the morning, armed with my caffeine of choice and some breakfast nommage and worked until my stomach said, "Uh, hey, I exist" hours later.

Then I picked up, got lunch and plunked down in a different coffee shop until the last one closed and I needed to sleep.



The walk from coffee shop to coffee shop got my legs moving and gave a well needed break from staring at my laptop. Also, the change of scenery was a fun and interesting way to re-hone my focus/feed off a different energy.

THE ONE PROBLEM WITH THIS (well, I'm sure there are many, but the one I really ran into)... is occasionally you will get one person whose voice cannot and will not blend. They're too loud or too obscene or nasaly (The quality of sound that resonates from the nasal area tends to cut through general noise easier. This is why certain metropolises have a common accent that adopts this quality, eg. New York/Chicago etc). Whatever it is about this person's voice, they cut through that beautiful murmur and dig into your brain, breaking your concentration because you aren't sure how to filter it out properly.

I ran into two of these. One girl, bless her heart, who was determined to tell two strangers her life story on Saturday and a hippie reading group who... I honestly don't know what the were reading from on Sunday. The only thing to do is A, keep a pair of headphones handy, B, move somewhere else (either inside the coffee shop or to another) or C, Take a break to listen and write a story about that individual based on what information you receive. ...C is a great writing exercise. Just saying.

  • My favorite spin on this is to sit near the bar of a Starbucks (or any other fast-paced, people moving in and out coffee shop), and write down as much as I can from the conversation happening between the people waiting for their drinks. Then when they leave, I try to finish the scene.

Now, admittedly, this sort of 'writer lock down' is not something I recommend as daily practice but sometimes it's needed. By the end of my two-day non-stop blur, my eyes were a little achey, and I'm pretty sure I made some grand strides to developing carpal tunnel.

What would I do differently in the future? Well, I'd find a mad man with a box for one...

But more realistically I'd take a break to get up, stretch and stand in the sunlight once every hour and a half or something.

I did feel like a badass though. 70, 000+ words gone over with a fine-tooth comb in 48hrs? Bam.

Horchata Icecream (vegan) from BlueBird

Side note: Working in a cupcake and coffee cafe (I huddled into Cupcake Royale on Capitol Hill), while the smell is AMAZING, it's a wee distracting. It was like what I imagine writing in the Candy Kingdom from Adventure time would feel like.

The important thing to remember with these insane stints are to keep your needs in mind. If your eyes hurt, take a break. Seriously. If you need to stretch, take a break.

Also keep in mind that when your mind starts to go at night, caffeine will keep you awake but your mental clarity may not fully return. Sometimes it's better to call it a night and rise early to continue the good fight.

And of course, set up goals and reward yourself. Like I did with this sprinkle covered dose of horchata icecream from Bluebird Microcreamery and Brewery. Ermagerd, sprinkles.

A fun and (surprisingly) helpful tool that I will employ when I can't make it to a noisy cafe is use the wonders of It's an interesting experiment with how ambient noise affects that part of your brain.

You may need to work in absolute silence or to the less than dulcet tunes of Metallica to get your vibe going, I don't know. But here's one method.

Feel free to try it.


  1. I do find that going to a cafe helps me focus a lot. I know there are people wandering around and you would think that is distracting. But it somehow makes me concentrate.

    1. I think it's the kind of energy those places sort of exude? I don't know. Caffeine, college students, writers, old friends. Things just feel alive.