By Joe Torosian
I don’t know how to say this in a way that doesn’t make me sound like a jerk…but I’ll try.
Don’t go to Starbucks.
Go to Starbucks for your coffee, go to Starbucks for your Pumpkin Spice Latte, go to Starbucks to meet with friends and discuss business, or go to Starbucks and catch up with friends.
But don’t go to Starbucks to work on your novel. Please. It’s stupid. As stupid as guys who buy sportscoats with elbow patches because they think it makes them look like a writer.
Go to Starbucks to do your homework, prepare a sermon, study for a test…but don’t go to Starbucks to work on your novel, short story, or anything creative. Please.
I’ll cut you some slack. If you’re in between meetings and places to be, you can go to Starbucks and do some editing on your novel. Clean up the grammar, correct some misspelled words, and fact check some points you made.
But do not go to Starbucks, Coffee Bean, or Peet’s Coffee to work on the first draft of your novel.
When on deadline for the newspaper or website, I wrote anywhere and everywhere. I wrote at Denny’s, in the front seat of my truck, in my living room, with my daughter sitting in my lap, in the chaos of the old newsroom at Mid Valley Sports with staffers arguing, cutting cheese, and letting go of loud, long belches.
I figured I could do the same with my fiction writing…anywhere, any place, any time, but I was wrong. I needed to be alone. I didn’t need music for inspiration but perhaps some loud instrumental music to block out any other noises. I didn’t need a cup of coffee, a writing prompt, or words of encouragement from my wife. I needed to be alone.
Even if you don’t talk to anybody while at the coffee house, you’re still not alone. The conversations going on around you interfere with the conversations the characters in your head are trying to have.
One second–in your thoughts–Twitchel is working on the right words to let Sheila know he loves her…Then the guy next to you at Starbucks goes on a rant about “f-bombing Trump.” … And Twitchel is distracted and doesn’t tell Sheila his true feelings because he wants to argue with the guy you’re sitting next to.
This is no good.
If you’re going to write, if you’re going to create, be alone. If you don’t have an office, then build an office. If you need to use the kitchen table, then write after everyone else has gone to bed. If you can’t stay up late, then get up before everybody else in the morning.
Find a closet, clean out a corner, get yourself a shed from Home Depot and put it in your backyard with a fan.
If writing is important to you, you’ll find a way, you’ll make a way, you’ll create a way to get the job done.
Along with pastoring (which included writing sermons, devotionals, and lessons) I was a paid sportswriter for 21 years. It was fun, but it was work. And since it was work, there was no choice in terms of getting it done. It had to get done because one else was going to do it for me.
Inside of me, ever since high school, was a desire to write fiction. I’d work, stop, start again, and then get overwhelmed by work and get distracted. I was always waiting/longing for that perfect time to come. That perfect time when I would find the perfect, blissful, writing environment.
Then I realized that I had to make that perfect time. It wasn’t going to find me, I had to create it.
Whether I make another buck from writing fiction again or not, it is what I have to do. When I’m not doing it regularly (that can be all day, two hours a day, 15-minutes a day, or a single paragraph) I’m not comfortable, I’m out of balance, just like we all feel when we haven’t finished our work.
But even if my day gets interrupted, I make the time to be alone and get the job done.
And going to Starbucks, praying for inspiration, is not the way to go about it. Writing is a job, and to advance in it, you have to treat it like a job, and be good with being alone.
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all available through Amazon.com.