Why I write in coffee shops – Morton S. Gray

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By Morton S. Gray

I write most of my first novel drafts long-hand using notebook and pen whilst enjoying my favourite skinny flat white coffee in some of my favourite cafés in Worcestershire, UK. I started to ponder the reasons why I do this and came up with quite a few!♥

The practical reasons include the fact that my youngest son catches an early train to school, so I find myself passing the doors of my preferred coffee chain at seven-thirty on weekday mornings. I don’t always go in, but I know that if I go home I’ll end up doing household chores, walking the dog, sorting the washing, unloading the dishwasher and so on, instead of writing.

Like most mums, my needs, wants and desires seem to get pushed to the bottom of the pile. If I go to a coffee shop with my notebook and pen, I am giving myself some time to fulfil my writing needs. Hmmm – I wonder if this is why my family seem to think drinking coffee makes me more human?

I really love a cup of good coffee. Also, as I sit at my favourite tables, I observe the people in the queue waiting to be served and very often find inspirations for the traits, mannerisms, ways of speaking and appearance of my characters. For example, yesterday there was a guy studiously putting on his business tie, murmuring something to himself, as if rehearsing a speech and the day before a guy with dreadlocks and a somehow incongruous-looking smart suit, wearing a grungy man-bag. I see people like this and a story immediately begins to unfold in my mind. There are lots of notes at the back of my notebooks, so that I don’t forget these characters whilst I’m working on the current novel.

Add to this scene the piped music in the café. Lyrics often spark ideas for me and the coffee shop is more likely to play songs I wouldn’t choose for my own playlist. I am forever asking Siri on my phone to name a tune, so that I can listen to an inspirational line I’ve half caught in my head. Whole scenes and indeed stories have evolved in this way.

On occasions, I have heard snippets of conversation from other cafe users, that have again sparked ideas and stories. There was one occasion when a man was, very noisily, shouting into his mobile phone about the complications of his father’s will. Other drinkers might have been annoyed, but I was lapping it up and making notes in my notebook to use at some point.

When I overhear someone saying something like, ‘Rose disappeared, you know’, I can’t help but be intrigued and begin to fill in the backstory of an imaginary Rose. My version is probably far from the truth, but then does that matter as long as I have a story?

At least once a week I meet a friend, a poet, for breakfast in the coffee shop. We talk through ideas, chat and read our work to each other. A writer’s life is quite solitary at times, so it is good to maintain this interaction. We once giggled so much at a sex scene I’d written that a lady came over to us and said it was lovely to see people so joyful and happy. Little did she know what we were laughing about!

I shall definitely continue writing in coffee shops and if other writers haven’t tried it, I think you might be surprised at how productive and fun it is.

Morton S. Gray lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors. Her debut novel, The Girl on the Beach, was published as an ebook in January 2017, after she won The Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition. Morton’s second book for Choc Lit, The Truth Lies Buried, is published as an eBook on 1 May 2018.


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