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  • Helen Phifer

Coffee Shop Writing




I decided I need to make a conscious effort to blog more about my writing life, the ideas, inspiration and the places I write. Some days it’s at my very untidy desk in the living room, the tiny antique bureau squeezed into the corner by the television. When I can get to it, I’m sure my scraps of paper, notebooks, receipts and everything else multiplies overnight. Other times I write in the garden, I’m lucky enough to have a writing shed although at the moment it’s full of boxes so there isn’t much room. I write in my car, on the sofa, I sometimes take myself away for the day or overnight if I’m lucky enough to escape.


Today’s where I write is brought to you from a coffee shop. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, drinking coffee is like a life saving ritual for me. I love reading newspapers and generally putting the world to rights with either the fabulous staff, my friend’s Sam and Tina and sometimes my husband Steve. I have lots of writer friends who swear by getting their word count in whilst sipping a cappuccino and indulging in a slice of cake. Who doesn’t like cake? It always sounds so romantic to me, sitting there writing being oblivious to the world.


I’m on a really tight deadline for my next book in the Beth Adams series, it’s even tighter than the button on my work trousers and trust me that’s tight. So I decided in the forty minute break I got inbetween giving talks about Anti-Social Behaviour to lots of Year Six children I’d give coffee shop writing a go. As soon as it was lunch time I grabbed my laptop and crossed the road to the Drive Through Costa opposite the Fire Station where I was working from. It was perfect, less than a minute away. I walked in and it was so busy, there wasn’t even a table and my idea of utilising what little time I had was almost a non starter. Fortunately whilst I was in the queue a table came free and I told the staff I was grabbing it. Let me just say that the staff in this particular Costa are amazing and go above and beyond. Mattie one of the baristas told me to grab my seat and he’d bring my usual medium latte over, a small gesture which meant the world to me. I was determined to get some writing done.




I got my laptop and notebook out ready to start work. As promised Mattie delivered my drink to the table. Now I don’t know about you, but one of my greatest skills is people watching. I think it’s where a lot of my character inspiration comes from. It’s also great to do in a very busy coffee shop. I tried to focus on the Word document in front of me, I really did. I did manage to type almost a thousand words, but it was hard because snippets of conversations kept floating my way and distracting me.


I enjoyed my brief, stint with a lovely latte. But I don’t think I’d ever be able to write a book sitting in coffee shops like the fabulous JK Rowling. Although if it had been quieter it might have been easier to concentrate. To my fellow writers who have produced stories in this environment, I salute you and if you can give any tips on how to make this work for future reference I'm all ears.

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