Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coffee shops and creativity

Dana Corbit here. What is it about writers and coffee shops? Comedians poke fun at them in their monologues. Coffee-shop owners count on them to keep their books in the black. These laptop-toting artistic types share table space with college students, traveling salespeople and crowds of chatting moms as they sip double espressos and type furiously on their versions of the great American novel. I know a lot about these people because I happen to be one of them.

Several days a week I can be found in my favorite coffee shop, the Biggby Coffee franchise in Novi, Michigan, tapping away on my work-in-progress, making revisions or doing line edits. My double-tall skim vanilla bean latte is always within reach. In fact, I've hung around so often that the owner, Mike Waltersdorf, stocks my books now alongside his insulated coffee cups and greeting cards. I even plan a "Girls' Night Out Book Signing" at the shop each fall to hang out and share books with my friends. Are you asking if I'm there this very minute? Er...no comment.

What makes coffee shops such great places to breed creativity for so many people? For some it might be the smell of coffee, but I doubt that's what it is for me. I never even drank coffee until the last few years - until I discovered lattes. Some might get inspiration from the TV entertainment, but Mike is attached to ESPN, so I don't even pay attention to that.

Now the white noise, that's my thing. It's great having music playing and a bunch of people around me talking, especially when no one is talking to me. I love that noise. I know there are people out there who have to have total silence to work. I just can't relate to them. As a kid, I wrote all of my research papers in front of the TV. (Shhh, don't tell my daughters that.) And quiet libraries...I have about as much luck staying awake in those as I did in my college personal finance class.

The coffee shop has other pluses for me. Telemarketers can't call and try to sell me vinyl siding. The dryer buzzer can't go off to tell me that the light load is finished. My pit of a house can't announce that its annual cleaning is long overdue. All that and the place has coffee, too. They're lucky I don't just move in.

Well, I had better get back to work. The noise level is good, the music's just right, and the latte is kicking in. Ahhh! Let the creativity begin.


Stephanie Newton said...

I love working at my local coffee shop, too! I have my own corner and I get more done there than anywhere!

Hope you get lots done today!

Patty Smith Hall said...

Hey Dana! I use to hang out at the Panera in Kentwood, MI until I moved south to Georgia. Now I get my sweet tea with lemon at the QT and write every day at a nearby library.

Still, I miss my Panera at times. . .


Winter said...

I have this great little place I love to go to called Jeremiah Joe's, kind of a great place to write Christian novels, eh? Hope to utilize it when I'm published for book signings and stuff.

And having my li'l Alphasmart really piques interest. I've had great book discussions with patrons when they ask about the Alpha. Now I doubt that would have happened if I'd had a laptop.

Camy Tang said...

I love taking my Alphasmart to coffeeshops! Somehow the noise and the food and the four lines on my Alphasmart helps me write so much more than at home!

juliepollitt said...

I have a favorite coffee shop, too! I love the owner. He always makes sure I have enough coffee.