Sunday, February 22, 2015

5 Ways To Spot A Fellow Writer In A Cafe

I call one of my favorite cafes the "Starbucks Writers Colony" because I see several fellow writers every time I'm there. I haven't actually talked to any of them, and I've never seen what they type on their laptops or compose in their notebooks in longhand with their pens, but I have no doubt they are writers.

Most customers I see in any Starbucks aren't writing books or stories on their computers but instead are surfing the internet, writing quick emails, or watching videos. But some are in the midst of writing projects. I can identify a writer from no more than a few moments of observation. Writers at the keyboard behave differently than net surfers in a number of ways.

Here are 5 ways you can spot a writer in a cafe:
  1. Writers sit alone. I don't often see someone typing like a madman while another person sits opposite them trying to have a conversation, or simply ignoring the writer while reading a paper or fiddling with their phone.
  2. Sustained typing longer than needed to input a URL. An email message is only a one-time sustained effort for the duration of a minute or two. Unlike literary composition, it doesn't last.
  3. Sustained typing followed by some moments of reflection, then more sustained typing followed by more reflection, and this cycle is repeated many times.
  4. Intermittent with the typing is the brief checking of web pages--most likely dictionaries and thesauri--to find le mot juste. So, the mouse is clicked a few times, the screen is stared at, pecked on the keyboard are just a few letters adding up to one word, the mouse clicked again, then the writer stares at the screen to find the correct word to use from the selection offered. Then, once the staring is finished, another mouse click and more sustained typing.
  5. Writers betray a more thoughtful expression on their faces than those who merely play around on the internet. You can tell just by looking at their faces for a moment that they are deep within a thought process, thinking of words, composing the next scene, inhabiting a character to understand what he would say or do. Non-writers never form those kinds of expressions on their faces. 

Read the novel I wrote mostly in cafes: Murder at the Library Conference

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