It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write. ~ Ernest Hemingway
It can be incredibly discouraging to be a writer. Inspiration comes and goes, but when it goes- you’re left with a searching and restless mind. When the words come easily, there’s not a whole lot more that truly satisfies your soul than seeing your thoughts pour out onto the screen or paper in front of you. At times though, the words are way off on the horizon of your mind… you can see pieces of them, but actually grasping onto enough of them to create the perfectly formed sentence you know you’ve got inside of you can be almost so frustrating that you decide to pick a different profession.
I, personally, have always written my best work in coffee shops. Which doesn’t really make sense, because I’m notorious for telling people that I can’t study with them due to my required need of absolute silence (I actually just retain the most information when I can talk aloud to myself, and don’t want other people to witness me doing that…) As soon as I get to a semi-noisy coffee shop however, something in my brain clicks- it knows it’s time to pull through for me. Research papers, articles, blogs and creative writings… all have been done most successfully while binge drinking 6 vanilla lattes over the course of 8 hours in the same wooden chair at the same wooden table, every now and then zoning out and staring at strangers for an uncomfortably long time.
Coffee shops somehow always embody the best zone for deep concentration by inherently capturing the perfect blend of noise, every single time. Don’t agree with me? Maybe your coffee shop ambiance is broken. Here are the signs that you’ve found one that has gotten the concentration formula correct:
-There will always, however distantly, be the sounds of grinding coffee beans.
-One annoyed and/or disinterested coffee barista
-An overly cheerful one
-Chatter, on cell phones or in person
-Clanking of dishes
-Scraping of chairs/tables
-Coffee shop music humming quietly but oh-so-perfectly
It might not sound like much, but don’t underestimate its power to unleash the creative build up you’ve been feeling in your mind. There will also always be something or someone to watch. The best scenes unfold at coffee shops; you just have to be aware enough to catch them. Nancy Warren (USA Today bestselling author) said about coffee shops, “I was writing about the human condition and that day, as every day, I was surrounded by it in my local coffee shop.” It’s a proven thing people. Writers swear by it- and we’re a trustworthy group.
You might find though, that there will times in your life when you can’t spend your days idly sitting in a coffee shop writing or working. Some of us have offices; some of us have bosses that prefer to see our faces (myself included.) Getting paid to write is a wonderful thing; you might even go as far to say it’s a gift. Getting paid to write when you are confined to a quiet building of professionals whom you have no idea what they’re doing all day but can confidentially assume it isn’t writing about coffee shops, can be mentally exhausting. I constantly find myself running out of ideas, searching for inspiration and staring at white walls trying to remember if I’m actually clever with words or if I accidentally was once and mistakenly pursued it on a whim. It’s impossible for my mind to effectively communicate when I feel stifled.
Then, in typical miracle fashion, an unexpected Godsend happened. My boss e-mailed me a link to a TIME article entitled, “50 Best Websites of 2013: TIME’s annual salute to sites and services that keep you entertained and informed, save you time and money — and maybe even change your life.”
Upon reading the title I thought they were perhaps running the risk of sounding a little overdramatic at the “change your life” part, but I see now I was in the wrong and TIME; you were correct. Ever heard of Coffitivity? I hadn’t. Created in Richmond, Va. here’s what it does and how your writing career is about to revive itself. coffitivity.com
“Coffitivity masterfully re-creates the sensation of being in a cheery coffee shop. The concept is simple: this site endlessly loops the white noise of people indiscernibly chatting and cups clanking at 40% volume, while you set your own background music at 60% volume. The result is a perfect mix of environmental stimuli that keeps you focused and productive.”
–TIME, Doug Aamoth.
Coffitivity perfectly captures the concentration formula and then gives it to us wrapped up in a bow for our writing delight. There are six different “Café Library’s” to choose from: Morning Murmur, Lunchtime Lounge, University Undertones, Paris Paradise, Brazil Bistro and Texas Teahouse. Thus far, I’m partial to Morning Murmur and University Undertones. I play Morning Murmur at 35 (you can sent this on the website) and then I go to Spotify and find ‘Your Favorite Coffeehouse’ under moods. The result? My brain is completely tricked. It sounds exactly like I’m sitting in a coffeehouse, the music and coffee shop combo aren’t distracting at all and productivity and words are booming.
Aside from coffee shop white noise, Coffitivity also includes the research to prove that it isn’t just in your imagination that your creative juices are flowing more freely and you work better when surrounded by a moderate level of noise… it’s a proven theory. The link to the study they based their ideas from is provided here: www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665048
The most disappointing part of the entire thing is that TIME printed this in 2013… I could’ve been saved two years ago. Let us know if you use Coffitivity and whether or not it helps you focus!