Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Do you write at coffee shops?

There are a lot of professional writers who pooh-pooh the idea of writing at coffee shops.  Supposedly all writers who do so are actually posers, or at the very least, unproductive.

Disclaimer: I am at a coffee shop right now.

I've actually always found that writing at a coffee shop can help me to be productive when I'm feeling unfocused, or help me make progress when I'm feeling stuck. Well, according to a story on NPR, studying at a coffee shop can also help you to remember things better.

The article, about a book on how the brain works, gives several study tips that I find fascinating, as they probably apply to writers and other knowledge workers, too.  A lot of writers already know that taking short breaks periodically, whether it's to take a walk or check Facebook, is helpful, especially when you're feeling stuck.  I don't think that's the only tip here that would be helpful for writers, either.

For instance, I've heard before that breaking up study time over days or a week helps you to remember things better.  Isn't it likewise true that spreading the work on an article, especially a big one, over several days or a week helps you to see mistakes or have creative insights you might have missed if you were cramming to get the work done right before a deadline?

And if varying your study environment can help you to remember things better, I also wouldn't be surprised if it can help you to get a fresh look on your work when you're stuck, or help you to focus when being at home (or in the office) is proving to be distracting.  I know it doesn't work for everyone -- some people do better when they have the same familiar surroundings every day, but I actually find that changing it up periodically (not every time) helps me to be productive.

What about you?  Have you tried any of these tips with your writing habits, and what have you found works (or doesn't)?

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