The Nine Stages of Writing at a Coffee Shop

Today I’m going to get out of the apartment.

Photo credit: Maria Keays, CC BY 2.0.

When you’re a freelance writer — or any type of freelancer — you make yourself a lot of promises, mostly about getting out of the house and about wearing real, non-pajama clothing. But with no one to hold you accountable, these promises often go unfulfilled. Almost every day, I tell myself I’m going to go out and write at a coffee shop. I do it maybe 1/12th of the time. Here are the nine stages of writing at a coffee shop, as I see them.

9 am: Optimism

You know what? Today I’m going to get out of the apartment. I’ve been staying in and doing my work here for too many days, or more realistically, years. Today I’ll give myself a change of environment. Today is the day I go write at a coffee shop. Yeah! This is healthy. Good job, self. Wow, I’m finally taking charge of my own health. Only I can help me. That’s a great quote. This is already going great.

11:30am: Slightly Reduced Optimism

Okay, I meant to leave earlier but it’s fine. I guess now it’s almost lunchtime. No sense in spending $11 on a bad coffee shop sandwich, so I’ll just eat here. Then I’ll take the dog out. Then I’ll go. This day is still chock full of potential. Today, I become a real writer.

1pm: Post-Lunch Tiredness

Those frozen quiches are never as good as you think they’re going to be. When will we as a society learn this lesson? Man, I’m tired. Maybe I should just stay here. No, no, I should go. You can get coffee there, stupid, it’s a coffee shop. Okay, I’ll text my other friends who work from home and see if they want to go. We can be accountability buddies. We’re going to get so much done, once we’re less tired.

2pm: Denial

No one else was free but that’s okay. It won’t be boring to go by myself. It will be fine and I will get a lot of work done, and there probably won’t be any traffic getting there.

3pm: Pride

I made it! Finally, I have arrived at Grind Your Manors. You know what? I’m just going to say it: I’m not a piece of shit. At this time I’d like to express my gratitude to God, or the universe, or hey, whatever I believe in, for giving me the strength to get my life together. I’ll just get a black coffee. That seems really writerly, plus it’s only $1.99. Okay fine, I’ll get the $4.99 mocha. Writing is all about self-motivation, and you can’t have self-motivation without rewards.

3:15pm: Looking for Outlets

Is that an outlet over there on the left? No, it’s gum. I can’t sit over here on the right, that guy looks like he’s more successful than me. And I can’t sit there in the middle because that woman looks like she probably hates dogs. I can’t write with that kind of energy. I’ll just sit here under the air conditioner. It’s really cold but that will probably motivate me to write more.

4pm: Accomplishment

I can’t believe I’ve already written three sentences! This is going great. Time to reward myself with a much-needed Twitter break. I’ll set a timer for five minutes so I don’t stay on it too long. Actually, I don’t need to do that. I may not know much but I can watch a clock, for freak’s sake!

5pm: Quandary

That was a great five minutes on Twitter. Oh, my meter is up. Should I move my car or just leave? I really don’t want to pay another $4 for parking.

5:05pm: Decisiveness

I’ll just leave. I don’t want to overwork myself! After a certain point you just can’t write anymore, you know? Plus, with all the writing I got done today, I’ve earned a lot of cakes and I should go pick them up. I’ll be back bright and early tomorrow! Well, not tomorrow, I have to use my CVS ExtraBucks. And not the day after that, because that’s Friday, our day of rest. But definitely next week, or if not then, in the new year. Unless it’s too cold.

Allegra Ringo is a writer, dog lover and podcast guy. Follow her on Twitter at @allegraringo, and check out her Maximum Fun podcast Can I Pet Your Dog?

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.