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Benefits and downsides of writing in public

Teri Black, Staff Writer

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When portraying artists, writers especially, a common image is that of the coffee-addicted cafe hermit. These people lurk in the corners of the shop, sipping their liquid caffeine and typing away on slim, silver laptops. They are the ones in movies who watch each patron enter, jotting notes about posture and facial hair, all the things which make people–characters–unique. But is this stereotype fact or fiction?

Cafes are normally busy places, filled with the tinkling of the doorbell, the clattering of mugs, and the indie music which blends effortlessly into the aroma of roasted coffee beans. Sometimes unique in small towns, cafes or coffee shops are plentiful in larger cities, and they offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Most are calming, filled with eclectic decor and more flavors of coffee than one could possibly drink. With all these features, cafes seem like the perfect place to write or draw, not to mention how coffee shops have created a culture of their own, a respectable place where young artists can go and feel comfortable and socialize with their peers. This is precisely why I do not like to write in them.

Speaking for myself only, coffee shops are too busy, too loud, too distracting. There is no way I can concentrate when the little bell on the door chimes every ten minutes or when orders are being called out into the crowd. I cannot testify for other people, but when writing, I must be in a “mode,” so-to-speak. A coffee shop is most certainly not the place for that.

Privacy is also a huge concern for me, and I am sure others feel the same way. The usually cluttered layout of a cafe always harbors the possibility of someone looking over my shoulder, reading what is being written. Perhaps I am paranoid, but that is a huge concern.

But to be honest, I’m sure other people can cope with these downsides better than I can. Others may be able to slip into the writing mode easier, or perhaps they wear headphones to drown out the noise. Maybe they are just accustomed to it, and the clatter is nothing new. I cannot handle the sounds and stuffy atmosphere, although it would not surprise me if I am a minority. After all, that image of a person with a latte and a laptop is almost universal, but I doubt I will ever be one of  them.

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Benefits and downsides of writing in public