Tips for Writing in Coffee Shops

As a writer who’s spent the last three years living and traveling on a sailboat – and is currently a nomad, roaming between family and friends from North Carolina to Georgia – I’ve written in enough coffee shops to know what any writer may need to get the job done. Below is a master list that may help you write the next great American novel. Or, at least, a few bomb-ass Instagram posts.

The Basics

Backpack: One that is more multifunctional than fashionable (I know, but hear me out.) I’ve tried the “cute” bag thing, and although a designer bag is gorgeous, they are hardly functional when working on the go. I recommend a backpack from an outdoor store. (I have this one from Patagonia, and I love it.) Black will match any outfit, and the bag is top-notch durable, and roomy without being obtrusive. Plus, it has pockets to act as desk drawers. This one includes a cushioned computer case so you can travel without worry!

Computer: Duh, I know. Make sure it’s fully charged in case you can’t find a seat by a plug. Because what’s worse than finally harnessing the muse and realizing you’re at 17%? Not much.

Phone: Also, duh. Tip: when starting a project, keep your phone on airplane mode so you won’t be disturbed. You’re getting your productivity on, the outside world can wait!

Power Cords: I place computer and phone cords in cloth zipper pouches and keep my hard-drive and USB drives in separate pouches for protection and easy accessibility.  On that note, pack a thumb or hard drive to save your work. (And use them, too!).

Notebook and pen: For lists, a quick journal, or doodle. Sometimes, it feels good just to glide your hand across the page while scribbling with a pen or pencil. (This Moleskine one is super convenient and can be tucked in a pocket or small purse as well.)

Things You Didn’t Know You Needed

Rocketbook. This is a game-changer that a friend introduced me to. You can write in this notebook with an erasable pen, upload your page to your computer, and then erase the entire book with a mug of water when you’re done. It’s freakin’ nuts. See here.

The Little Things. Or, as I like to call them, saviors of life: Hand sanitizer, a protein bar snack (this one’s my favorite), lip balm, headache meds, essential oils, or vitamins that will clear your mind and ease fatigue when you’ve been crushing it all day on the computer.

Reusable water bottle: I love this stainless steel one or a classic Nalgene bottle with stickers all over it.

Reusable travel mug: This not only helps the environment, but it also helps keep your drink hot or cold longer than a regular mug. (This Klean Kanteen one rules.)

Shawl or Long-sleeves: Because air-conditioning can be intense or a heater not intense enough! A denim jacket will take you far, or opt for something lightweight so it won’t take up too much space in your bag.

Grammarly. I used to snub this site, thinking it would re-write my stories more than edit. Yes, you’ve got to watch for certain corrections, but it turns out that Grammarly can help you look like a punctuation rockstar if you play it right. Highly recommend! Try it here.

Secret Weapons

When You’re Extra: Dude, a seat cushion. No joke. My boyfriend, Chris, gifted me this one from Sea and Summit, and I use it all the time. When you gotta write all day, be comfortable! Your butt, hips, and back will thank you. #Noshame

Take a Break: Proven to help with productivity, taking a 20-minute “nature break” is known to clear the mind and re-energize. Bonus, it gives your eyes a break from a computer screen, too!

Did I miss anything? What would you bring to your next coffee shop writing session?

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    • Great question! My mom would appreciate this since she is constantly reminding me never to leave my belongings in the open! To save my seat when I need to use the restroom and I’m all by myself, I usually drape the shawl or light sweater I packed over the seatback or bottom. My butt pillow, which is usually out, makes a great seat saver as you can imagine. Next, I’ll pack up my valuables and head to the Ladies room. If my computer is plugged in, I’ll leave the plug but take the computer. For the rest, I put my faith in humanity to not steal my shiz as nature calls. Sometimes, neighbors will ask me to watch their stuff for a sec and I’ll do the same. Nothing is 100%, but these are tricks I use. I hope this helps! Thank you for reading!! 🙂

  1. Great options. I also use the forest app which is a productivity app. Other thing I bring are mints, and postit notes. Ibuprofen too!

    • Um, TOTALLY bringing mints next time! What a great idea! I think peppermint helps to stimulate the mind. Lord knows that is needed when staring at a blank page! Also, gotta check out this forest app. Thank you for sharing, Katie! xo