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Get Creative by Writing From a Café

More ways to inspire your writing by observing people

Last week, I put together a quick article on how to Use a Fountain Pen to Get Inspired, and I wanted to continue that thought with another tip: write in a café to inspire and get the creative juices moving again.

If you’ve been stuck writing in your office, get out.

Surrounded by the same environment everyday can put me in the dreaded routine rut. Shower, have breakfast, sit at the desk, and write. Routine may help some keep on task, but it slows down my creative soul. When I look up at the same four walls in my office with unchanging decor, I often run the same old stories through my mind.

Sitting in a café with wonderful characters coming in and out has given me a tremendous spark.

The main reason I like to write in a café (aside from an unending source of great espresso) is inspiration. I like to get a table facing in, allowing me to see the various people coming in and out, and catching a tidbit of passing conversation. Understand, I don’t listen in to be creepy, but in a busy coffee house, you can’t help but hear the surrounding conversations.

Hearing random chunks of chatter from the table across from me is a great source of material as is striking up a conversation with someone in line. To be honest, that’s what ignited today’s post. A couple of folks were talking about getting out of their office cubicle to sit in this coffee shop to get work done. I felt exactly the same way and knew I needed to write about it.

But talking and listening are not the only creative sparks I get from coffee shops and café’s. I also play a game of people watching. I like to observe the people around me and imagine what brought them here or what they do for a living. For example, looking around the café right now:

  • A group of four ladies in summer dresses are chatting over some pastries and iced lattes. Though I can’t hear their conversation, I imagine they are discussing a devious plan to knock off their husbands; each in a unique way based off the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents series.
  • In the leather chair by the window sits an older woman, perhaps in her mid-60’s, banging away on her keyboard. I imagine she’s putting on the final touches to her lifelong work on a novel.
  • I imagine the two gentlemen in line, dressed in expensive suits, are talking the details of the huge case they just landed — a case that will involve a hit on the older lawyer which the younger narrowly escapes. And there’s a reason he escapes!
  • A man with elbows on the table, sweat dripping from his brow, talks with his doctor about his last chance for a life-saving operation which is highly controversial; and illegal. The window to do this is closing, and he must board a flight to Argentina tonight. But what he discovers on this trip will change medicine forever.

Some of these ideas could work their way into short stories, though most will not. But these sparks would not have been seen if I had not come into the café. today. And every hour, a new crowd of stories walk their way into the shop.

There are interruptions in the coffee house which are usually welcome. Honestly, there are times where I need to be distraction-free, and that’s where the closed office comes in handy. But when I need that creative spark, nothing does it like the local café.

Now, I need to find out which Hitchcock-inspired episode will bump off the first husband.

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