Writing in Cafes

cafes, buses, palm trees, bright blue sky, cars on Bronte Road, Bronte

I am sitting in a café across the road from the beach in Bronte, Sydney.  This stretch of road has a whole row of cafes side by side facing the sea.  This is my favourite kind of writing place:  one where I can sit comfortably for a long period of time and where the owners of the café know me and welcome me.  This café is owned by a Brazilian man and his wife and has comfortable upholstered bench chairs with a direct view of the Pacific Ocean.  For my two-hour writing session my choice could be a traditional Brazilian dish such as Coxinha, Feijoda or Moqueca.  Or a cocktail like Caipirinha or  Caipiroska.  I must order something and it must be more that a Soy Cap, because I plan to be here for a long time.  I want the owners of the café to know I appreciate the time and the space they are allowing me.

However, today I’ll be very boring and order poached eggs on gluten-free bread 🙂

Why go to all this trouble to find a place to write?  Why not just stay home and work?  Because it’s good to get out and have a change of scene.  I find I need to be happy and relaxed when I’m creating on the page and sitting in a café with a pleasant vibe works for me.  Other writers need silence in order to concentrate, but I need to feel I am out and about in a beautiful place having a good time before the creative juices flow.

Strangely, working in a café can help to increase concentration.  The busy café atmosphere keeps the sensory part of you occupied and content, so that the hidden, quieter part of you that composes and focuses is allowed to do its work.  It is something like being cunning when trying to get a spoonful of food into a resistant toddler’s mouth .  You pretend to be an aeroplane with all the sound effects and movements before landing the food-laden plane inside the child’s mouth.  Mission accomplished.


What about you?  Do you need to be at your desk in total silence to write, or do you like to experience the swell of humanity around you—to be surrounded by other human beings?  Or at home listening to a particular kind of music?

48 thoughts on “Writing in Cafes

  1. I used to frequent coffee shops to read and study but since starting to blog, I haven’t had the chance yet. Coffee shops in my city can be crowded and I meet friends whenever I go. I would love to find a quiet place like yours and get the inspiration to write about being in a new place and life as it happens. I think the view of the ocean would just find me staring at it, speechless.

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      1. I’m not sure, maybe the equivalent would be a cheese risoles… but another favorite is pao de queijo! 🙂 I can still enjoy it until I become vegan (which I’ve been contemplating..) ♡

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  2. Each to his/her own I reckon. It is a matter of building up the self-disipline to write as regularly as possible. My ideal is somewhere quiet and isolated. Once I get going then a herd of elephants can’t disturb me!

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    1. i’ve left you a message on your last blog post regarding Mindfulness. such a wonderful resource those books by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. i encourage you to give the cafe writing a try. best to choose a place where you are unlikely to see anyone you know. that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It comes and goes for me, sometimes I can write in a cafe, sometimes I can’t. I will admit that I get the most work done on the couch, in silence. Bed is a big no no, hard to resist laying down and snoozing through a sweet nap. hehe


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  4. But people can see you. I would be so self conscious, I’d never get a word written. There are some great little spots in my town and I love the thought of trying it, but i know I would last five minutes.

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    1. i know what you mean about being seen. i used to hide in my bedroom to write. but you could give writing in a cafe a try, especially since you love the thought of trying it. just stay for a short time on the first visit. 🙂

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  5. I love writing in cafes! It’s more about my mindset going into writing than anything else, and I’ve noticed a shift over the years. Now silence makes me unable to focus. I need business around me–plus possible inspiration!!

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    1. yes, Lindsey. i couldn’t agree with you more. it’s been the same for me. a shift over the years, from writing in silence to needing life happening around me in a cafe. i look up from my notebook and out the window to the sky, or a tree, or the appearance of a person, or eavesdrop on a conversation, or whatever, and it gives me an idea.


    1. i agree with you totally, Lindsey. i very rarely write at my desk now, i do my creating in a notebook in a cafe and return to my desk to type up my notes and print out and to do research. like you say, in a cafe you let inspiration flow as life moves on around you.

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  6. All you lucky people. Hemingway, so I’m led to believe, wrote standing up in a cafe. I need peace, quiet, solitude. I cannot write in public. I cannot even read in public: in a cafe, on a bus or a train, on a plane, not even in a library. There is too much going on; too much I have to stop and observe, interrupting my flow. But some of those things come back to me in my solitude, when I’m writing; and I don’t even remember where they came from.

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    1. i think it was at home in his writing room that Hemingway wrote standing up. peace, quiet and solitude. totally understandable. thanks for your comment. best of luck on your writing journey, wherever it may take you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Libby!

    I really enjoy working in cafes! Something about being around clinking coffee cups and people coming and going is somehow.. relaxing? It’s like being in the middle of a beehive – noisy but motivating!

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