I’m a connoisseur of coffee shops.
I’ve issues myself a challenge to write at a new coffee shop every week until I’ve tried every single cafe in the valley. If I attempted this challenge 10 years ago, I would be done in a month. But, Coffee has become surprisingly popular in this Mormon stronghold. Now, I estimate that I’ll be sipping espresso through December. That, I hope, is the case. Because I issued this challenge for a reason.
I don’t write at home.
I wish I could sit down and type out all the ideas I had throughout the day, but I don’t. All day at work I come up with all sorts of material I want to record, but as soon as I get the chance, my motivation is gone. There’s so much to distract me at home: chores, my cat, hulu, books… I can’t seem to tune it all out, or resist the temptation to put it off for another day. No matter how much I want to put the plots to paper, the distractions always win- so I decided to remove myself from the situation.
Cafes are the perfect place to write.
Being around strangers is strangely motivating. Since I don’t know them, I’m not tempted to talk to them, and since I’m in a place with little else to do, I actually end up writing. There are large universities in the Valley, so there are literally thousands of college students around. Seeing them spread bent over their books and laptops is inspiring. I feel a strange sense of community, like the coffee houses of old. Cafes are social places, for dates and meetings, but it’s also a place where solitary people can come and be alone with others. Unlike a restaurant, you can spend hours at a coffee shop without disturbing anyone.
So far, the cafe writing project is going well.
I have been to 2 cafes so far, and both have been a success in terms of production.
The first was the Barns & Nobel cafe, just 2 miles up the road. On a Sunday afternoon, it’s still busy but decently quiet. There’s always at least one small open table to plop down with a chai tea and my laptop. While the coffee leaves much to be desired (hence ordering tea), but I will admit that the trip wasn’t a loss. In addition to a new book, I got quite a bit of writing done in that boxy book store. Overall, it reminded me of working in an office; boring, corporate, commercial, but not completely unpleasant.
The second Cafe was the polar opposite: a highly popular, bustling place called Peace on Earth. Since it’s opening on Center Street, I have not seen it anything less than full during operating hours. Even in the middle of a week day, I struggled to find a table. The atmosphere was young, vibrant, and energetic like the college students that burst through the door. It was loud. Unbelievably loud and crowded. People sat at every table inside, and most of the tables outdoors as well. There were people standing near the enclave by the restrooms, sitting on the small stage, and even just standing around. With the eclectic, boho decor and young, diverse (diverse for Utah anyway) clientele, it gave of San Francisco vibes. It was interesting, but overwhelming for an introvert. It did stoke some creativity, but the noise made it difficult to actually write. It’s a place where headphones are highly recommended if you want to get anything done.
I hope to find the perfect writing spot in the valley.
I want to find the Goldilocks of writing cafes: a place with good energy, great coffee, a comfortable seating, and customers who are looking for that same level of comradary. Maybe that is expecting too much, but I’ve only just begun my writing cafe tour. There are dozens of places left on my list, and I intend to try them all on for size.