Writing is a solitary pursuit. Well, it is if you don’t count the voices in our heads.
Even though I now have my home office back in which to write, the truth is, I’m sometimes better off working in my local coffee shop. There’s a couple of reasons for this: first, the fact that there’s no Internet access there (well, there is, but I refuse to pay for it!) and therefore I’m less to be distracted; and second, as I’m a bit of an introvert to begin with, it would be all too easy to become a complete hermit. Getting out amongst real, living people a few times a week does me good from a social perspective…and from a writer’s one, too.
Because honestly? Some days I do as much people-watching as I do writing. Parents with children, old friends, business colleagues…the coffee shop is a gathering place for a multitude of people whose conversations I overhear — accidentally, of course (ahem) — become fodder for future stories and scenes and whose mannerisms or dress-choices may well flesh out a new character.
Of course, I have to be very circumspect or else my accidental eavesdropping can make other patrons regard me with suspicion. More than one eyebrow has been raised in my direction when my mind drifts away from the need for covertness and I forget that staring is rude. And I’m fairly certain that more than one fellow customer has labelled the lady in the corner as being downright creepy. Oops.
So the next time you see someone sitting in the corner of a coffee shop who seems to be paying an inordinate amount of attention to the goings-on around her/him, remember there’s a possibility s/he isn’t necessarily a social misfit (or a stalker!) but rather a writer looking for a little inspiration. But you may still want to lower your voice.
(Adapted from a post that first appeared on Dark Central Station)