Dear Synonyms for Starbucks,
When you go to a coffee shop to write, what items do you bring with you, and why? Are there variations depending on where you go?
Signed, Wondering in Washington
My purse is always way too heavy and you don’t really need to know about the bottles of sanitizer and reams of receipts floating around the bottom of it, so I’ll stick with things that actually pertain to writing in coffee shops. Aren’t you glad?
- Earphones. This is the single most important item. I like having people near me when I write, but I usually won’t write a word if I can hear them. I’m awful at filtering out sounds. Also, there are certain types of music that make me (maybe literally) insane.
- My iPod Touch. To plug the earphones into. If I’m going light I can also plug them into my iPad, of course, or in an emergency my phone–but I only have two albums loaded on that (Never Mind the Bollocks, Sex Pistols; Anything, Damned) so it gets old. I have a tiny iPod shuffle for when I’m working out but I don’t usually use it for writing–it doesn’t has my workout playlist, not my writing playist.
- Something to write with: either my AlphaSmart, iPad and keyboard combo, my laptop (if I have a writing buddy to watch it while I pee), or in an absolute pinch my iPod touch or my phone. If I’m freewriting, it’s just a notebook and pen, and if I’m editing something, the printed-out manuscript and a pen with colored ink.
- My phone, partly so I can check email and FB without quitting out of my writing software, partly so I can keep running commentaries of what’s going on at the Starbucks (either for this blog or to send as an email to my bff Alicia–she swears she enjoys reading them). But mostly to use as a timer; if I’m having trouble settling in to write, turning on a timer app and setting it for 30 minutes works incredibly well. Having the timer running and not writing makes me feel much more guilty than regular not-writing.
- A re-usable coffee cup. I only remember to bring it about half the time, and boy am I pleased with myself when I do. Actually, lately, it’s more like three-quarters of the time. Huzzah!
- Sugar-free Cough Drops. I am pretty much never without a cough drop in my mouth. It’s just who I am.
- A jacket, even if it’s warm, so I can drape it over the back of my chair when I get up for a refill or to visit the ladies’.
- A spiral notebook, even if I’m planning on typing. Partly because if I’m stuck I find that writing with a pen and paper usually unsticks me, partly because I like to make quick notes to myself when I’m writing, and partly because it’s the best thing to leave on your table if you’re worried about getting your stuff stolen.
- Money or a Starbucks card, for the purchasing of the coffee. Really, I’m surprised I have to mention that.
- A bag big enough to carry it all in. I don’t like having a purse and a separate bag for my iPad/computer/what-have-you, because who wants to carry two things? Especially if you’re going to be packing it all up every time you go to the bathroom. Since I often walk to Starbucks, it’s usually a backpack–I have a great one that converts to a messenger bag, and another one that is sort of ugly but I got it for eight dollars at Target and it is black “leather” so I feel like it is less super-casual. I also have a simply enormous black purse I got at Ross years ago, and then went and had the straps replaced so I could carry heavy things in it without them breaking. I always keep a cute little black purse in the trunk of my car, so if I’m going to dinner or something after writing I can put my phone and wallet into that and leave the big bag in my trunk.
- A clean handkerchief. Because I never go anywhere without a clean handkerchief, and don’t understand why anyone would.
Of course there’s all sorts of other things one might carry, like chapstick and nail clippers, but that sort of goes in the ‘things at the bottom of one’s purse’ category.