I’ve seen some writers blogging and tweeting about how writing in Starbucks or any coffee shop, or anywhere in public for that matter, is wrong. Family Guy kind of kicked off this look-down-on-Starbucks-Writers thing a few years ago, but that was all in good fun, and that’s fine, and it still cracks me up.

Problem is, some guys are taking it all a little bit too seriously.

Jon Acuff wrote, “You go to Starbucks to be seen.” And Joe Wilson tweeted, “I’m in Starbucks not writing. I’m not big on public displays of writing.” On and on.

And look—I’ve followed Jon for years and respect what he does. His new Acuff.me blog is really good. And as far as Joe goes, I only just found him on Twitter the other day, but he seems nice enough. Anyway, I’m not trying to attack them or anything stupid like that. I just had to address this idea that writers who write in public are there to show off.

Because that’s ridiculous.

I mean, Jon even called it sexy.

Sexy.

Writing.

I wonder what THAT guy’s like, the guy who thinks writing in Starbucks makes him look sexy.

I wonder what his writing’s like.

I’m thinking neither are particularly awesome.

Look, work wherever you want.

And, to quote Jon again, work wherever you can.

Sometimes that’s in your office. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s Starbucks.

I’ve worked in McDonald’s, bars, libraries, hotel rooms, Books-A-Million, Borders, Barnes & Noble. I’ve written in cafes in Montreal and bars in Los Angeles and in a pizza place in Chicago and on a rooftop bar in Toronto. I’ve written in Starbucks. I’ve written in this awesome little joint in downtown Greenville called the Tipsy Teapot. Love going there.

I’ve written on my desktop, my laptop, my iPad, my phone, in notebooks.

I’ve pulled over on the side of country roads and written there, just sitting in my car with the music breaking my speakers. Sometimes I just drive around and talk into my recorder and then go back and type it out.

This writing business is hard. It’s really, really hard if you’re trying to do it well.

Besides, working in public is good for you. Getting somewhere public forces your face away from the computer screen and sometimes that little break is just what you need. And sometimes, just getting out of the house for its own sake is good, because as great as my dogs are and all, sometimes a human needs to be around fellow humans.

Even better, writing in public is good for your readers. Writing in public gets you out of your own head and, let’s be completely honest, out of your own ass, too. Sometimes we creatives types get feeling a little too precious about our work. We can forget that ultimately the goal of creation is to give someone else an experience. And working in public can help us imagine how our work will be experienced by that stressed-out looking guy sitting by the window or that dog-tired barista ready to throw coffee on someone or that couple in the corner who’s about to break up.

It reminds us fresh that there’s really a world out there full of people who are full of dreams and emotions and soul, and that that is why art ever came into existence in the first place.

So work in Starbucks. Work in Times Square. Work in bed, in Starbucks, on your doghouse roof, on your best friend’s face.

Work wherever you can.

And if any of you find some way to actually make writing look sexy, please let me know.

4 Responses
  1. I completely agree, Brandon. I rarely write away from the house, but if going to a coffee shop works for a writer, then they should write at a coffee shop. The location doesn’t matter. All that matters is the work.

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  3. I’d be honest when I say that the writing-in-Starbucks thing has worked for me as well. I don’t know what really prompted me to go there the first time but I needed to move out of my house, out of the regular atmosphere and there wasn’t any friend in town. I was alone, so I just took my laptop, a pen and a paper and went to Starbucks. It did get noisy at times but the sounds didn’t distract me. I weirdly felt more at peace than I feel in an empty house. After that, I got used to going to Starbucks and writing.
    The city where I am staying at now doesn’t have a Starbucks and the other good coffee places aren’t too close to where I stay. I miss those moments of writing. I am sorry for blurting out too much but I found your blog because I really wanted to read or write something about Starbucks. And I loved your article! If they call writing in Starbucks sexy, then ah! I don’t mind being a part of it! (:

  4. “Writing in public gets you out of your own head and, let’s be completely honest, out of your own ass, too. Sometimes we creatives types get feeling a little too precious about our work.” I am a pampered, overpraised, possibly over-rated science major, but even that is true!

    And it cracked me up! Another reason why it is good to do homework and finish projects at Starbucks?

    The atmosphere is incredibly relaxed with the artworks, color schemes, and clean equipment/tables/chairs. My problem solving skills have always been the most effective at that sort of environment. While you can set that up that sort of environment at home, it’s just too comfortable at home to achieve the same sort of mental task at hand. Great post!