Monday, February 23, 2015

Essential Items For Writing In A Cafe

A café writer doesn't need much in the way of equipment.


  • A laptop or smartphone
  • a program to input your words
  • a keyboard 

In the photo above, notice the napkins under my cup. I lean my iPhone against the cup while I type and the napkins keep it from sliding off.

If you’re totally offline, as William Faulkner said, all a writer needs is some paper and a pencil. Anything more than the essentials is gravy and we’re tramping in the territory of luxuries.

Offline Essentials:

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil

Non-Essential But Perhaps Desirable:

  • a soft cushion on your chair.
  • an upholstered footstool.
  • arm rests for your weary typing hands.
  • a soft pillow for those times when you've written so much you can’t help but fall asleep for just a few moments and then pick up where you left off.
  • a sweater in case you are near the door on a cold day, or if you are in a drafty section of the café and need to avoid getting a chill.
  • Your lucky hat, which you need to write as well as you can, otherwise, without it, you worry your prose stinks like a can of literary garbage.
  • Food and drink, but I’m assuming your café is equipped to adequately handle your needs.
  • A restroom to keep yourself fresh—but that’s essential for some writers, depending on your bladder and your personal circumstances at the moment you enter the café and how much time you have budgeted for café writing.
  • A car or public transportation to take you home or to the next café, if you are doing a relay requiring attendance at several cafes. 

For some writers, these items are luxuries; for others, necessities. Each person is different. There is no “one size fits all.” Only you know the table of contents of your master list of essentials.

And I’m sure some writers have their own secret, wild list of luxuries they want to have with them wherever they write, if possible.

The photo above I snapped at the original Starbucks cafe in Seattle.

Wild Luxuries That May Cause Comment:

  • A parrot on your shoulder? But pets aren't allowed in most cafes, thankfully—that’s a good topic for next time. 
  • Sunglasses to protect your tender eyes? But who wears these indoors except spies and celebrities?
  • Binoculars to spot a pretty girl across the street? But won't the others see what you're doing and brand you a stalking pervert?
  • A small framed portrait of a loved one, who you dearly miss, and can’t be with you in the café for whatever reason. 
  • Portable cubicle walls to set up around your table to avoid any distractions.
  • Your own special lamp that emits your own special light that helps you write your own special best.
  • An hourglass. When the sand runs out, you must stop and leave.

These are nothing more than my speculations. I don’t really know any writer who brings these things into a cafe, although it wouldn't surprise me in the least if one day I opened the “Writer’s Times” newspaper and saw an article about such curious folk.

Buy my short story collection I mostly wrote in cafes: Queen of the Chess Cult and Other Stories

Buy my novel, written mostly in cafes: Murder at the Library Conference:

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