Sep 092015
 

I whined to writer friend Dana Corbit that even with a home office that has a door I can shut, it is still difficult for someone who has AD/HD like me to avoid interruptions and distractions that slow the writing process, sometimes to a screeching halt. Dana, who also has a home office, told me that she doesn’t use it when she writes.

I tried to hide my astonishment. She has a completely equipped home office, every writer’s dream, and she doesn’t use it? What manner of madness is this? Should I summon the paramedics?

Dana assured me that she wasn’t crazy, just practical. There are too many distractions and too many items on the dreaded To Do List to discourage a writer from writing when she’s at home. She’s spot on about that. There are floors to mop, meals to plan, dishes and laundry to wash, plants to water, a recipe collection to alphabetize, and so on.

09-09-15 #5

She reminded me that writing is still a job even though we’re self-employed, and she assured me that it feels more like a regular nine to five job if you leave the house to go to work. An off-site office was too big an expense, so she began to patronize a coffee shop with her laptop in tow. For the price of a designer cup of coffee or two, she had a “satellite office” in which to write undisturbed on a daily basis. The manager and staff at the Biggby Coffee shop she haunts befriended her, and she has occasional book signings and writing-related events there. Dana commented that Biggby’s is where she wrote most of her published novels.

09-09-15 #2

Hmmm… If coffee shop writing worked for Dana, and for Harry Potter’s mother J.K. Rowling, it might work for me.

This morning, Schnoodle Dog had a grooming appointment in a nearby small town. I knew I’d have to wait around and kill an hour until he was beautified and ready to be chauffeured home. I decided coffee-shop writing was worth an experiment, so I snagged my iPad on the way out the door. I asked the groomer at the Pink Shears Pet Spa if there was a cafe or coffee shop nearby where I could hang out while I waited for His Highness. As luck would have it, there was one directly across the street from the pet spa. How is that for karma?

[I know what youre thinking. The designation pet spa makes the grooming salon sound grandiose and expensive but it’s not. Even salon makes it sound grandiose, but again, it’s not. What is grandiose is the excellent job the groomers do at this little storefront hole in the wall and for a very reasonable price.]

I ensconced myself at a table for two closest to the back corner of the little cafe where I hoped to become invisible. Since I already had my morning tea before I left home, I ordered hot chocolate instead. Granted, it was a flimsy excuse but it was the first excuse that came to mind–and yes, I got it with the whipped cream on top. Judge me if you believe you must. It is my considered opinion that if one intends to be bad, be bad to the bone. Keeping that in mind, I asked the server about the cafe’s baked goods.

She recited the list and recommended the grilled cinnamon roll. My taste buds leaped to attention, urging me to follow her recommendation. It took massive self-control to refrain from drooling when the waitress placed the warm, gooey treat before me. You’d better believe it was as yummy as it looked and smelled. Considering the likely humungous calorie count, I’ll have to be sensible and not eat anything else for the rest of the day. Right. Not one single bite. Seriously?

09-09-15 #4

So I got down to writing. Actually I got down to alternating between writing and daintily shoveling forkfuls of grilled cinnamon roll in my mouth, washed down with an occasional gulp of sinfully rich hot chocolate. I was amazed at how much I was able to write there in the cafe and how easy it was to tune out the other patrons. They were mere background noise, strangers who didn’t require my attention and didn’t get it.

I checked my watch a few moments ago, and it was then that I realized the other patrons were gone, every one of them. I never noticed that they left or when. It is now 11:25 a.m. and I have the cafe all to myself except for the staff.

The lunch crowd will probably show up soon, but I’ll be gone by then. I’m nearly at the end of this post, and it’s almost time to collect the magnificently coiffed [I hope] Schnoodle Dog. I’ll be out of here as soon as I pay my cafe bill, which amounts to a staggering $3.71 for a cup of hot chocolate, two huge slices of grilled cinnamon roll, and one hour of uninterrupted writing.

I plan to contact Dana and thank her for her brilliant suggestion. Today’s experiment worked so well, I believe I’ll try it again at the tiny coffee shop in the even smaller small town closer to my home. I’m so looking forward to it. I happen to know from previous non-writing visits that the tiny coffee shop has cinnamon chip scones that are to die for. Tea and cinnamon chip scones, and an ideal place to write uninterrupted. Surely Eden exists.

  • Margo Hoornstra

    First of all, I love the line – a recipe collection to be alphabetize – hilarious, as usual. I’m drooling here too. Not for the pastry and such, for the uninterrupted and unhindered writing time you managed to snag. Nice work!

    • I still can’t believe how fast that hour went by, Margo.

      Oh, by the way, I did alphabetize my recipe collection recently. It needed organizing. It was kind of a mess. Well, that’s what I told myself.

  • Melissa Keir

    Great post. I’ve not tried the coffee shop because I worry about the noise of the patrons. I would want to see what was going on in their lives. Since you recommend it, I’ll have to give it a try! Thanks for sharing your insights!

    • You’re welcome, Melissa. If you’re concentrating on your story, it’s not that hard to block others out.

  • Lucy Kubash

    I’ve thought of going to my local Panera, because I love their food, but then I figure going there for an occasional breakfast/lunch is bad enough. If I sat there too often and munched on their pastries I’d be in serious trouble! While Mr. T is still working, I pretty much have the house to myself most days, but once he retires, I may have to find a place to hide out.

    • Even on the days when Macho Guy is out of the house playing golf or whatever, there are too many distractions for me. Chief among them is feeling guilt for not getting the household chores done. If it wasn’t for not wanting to leave our aging Schnoole Dog alone, I’d be at the coffee shop every day.

  • Paul Dellinger

    So true about the home distractions, even from folks in your life who mean well but Don’t Understand. I knew a writer in Blacksburg, Va., who wrote at least one novel, maybe two, in a coffee shop so it can work. Some even offer Internet access if you have to fact-check. This post may be on to something.

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