Screenwriting at Starbucks can be great. Free wi-fi, a nice jazzy environment with woody overtones, baristas unionizing, etc. And there really are a ton of screenwriters who love working in Starbucks (or Peet’s or Coffee Bean or similar). On their laptops.
But frankly, I have no idea how they can do it. Me, I need peace, quiet, and the absence of that “suck” sound from the espresso maker, reminding me how bad of a screenwriter I am.
But I’m here to report, based on my 12-month super-scientific study (not really), that the coffee shop is indeed not the natural or preferred habitat of the screenwriter, and is in fact perhaps the most dangerous place you can be, as a screenwriter who’s trying to focus. I shall attempt to disguise this as very scientific and scholarly, but don’t be fooled. It’s really just one man’s ridiculous opinion because I couldn’t think of anything else to write a blog post about.
Here are a few reasons why I don’t write in coffee shops, corporate or otherwise:
Screenwriting at Starbucks is too noisy
the aforementioned sucking sound of the espresso maker…
…screaming consumer larvae (AKA baby humans)
…and that terrible singer-songwriter caterwauling some Starbucks shifts love to paint the walls with (although, to their credit, they’ve stopped selling CDs)…
Yikes! How is one supposed to focus on one’s characters and dialogue, when one is surrounded by all of these caffeinated people and their extremely complex drink orders?
Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and perhaps a coffee drinker, emphasizes the need to work in blocks of uninterrupted time. The takeaway: You may pride yourself in being a multi-tasker, being able to write, shave your face and legs, check email, and juggle your kids all at the same time, but where the real work gets done is when we humans are focused on one thing, and one thing only for a large block of time.
Screenwriting at Starbucks can mean spotty wi-fi security
Why does any screenwriter need to be online in order to write their screenplay? Lots of reasons! I look up how to spell things all the time, and do various tidbits of research on this or that as I write.
But being online in a public place means you’ll probably be using the house wi-fi. And here’s how easy it is for some chump to hijack your private information:
The chump sits in his car outside of Starbucks, monitoring all wi-fi transmissions with his laptop, using special “sniffing” software, which examines the little packets of data floating through the air, checking for telltale chunks of data or poorly-encrypted text like email passwords, or website passwords, or even credit card numbers and other personal information.
Then, he just copies all those packets to his laptop, and from them, can re-assemble/decipher them at will to get whatever info you may have transmitted while checking that email when you should’ve been screenwriting.
Yes, there’s more to it, and yes, this is probably not something you need to worry about too much, but it does happen! Read this post at Lifehacker for some tips how to protect your computer while on the wi-fi. Your identity will thank you. Yourself.
Screenwriting at Starbucks could be costly!
I can’t believe how many trusting citizens get up from their computers, top off their coffee at the counter way across the room, or hit the bathroom, leaving their goodies sitting at a Starbucks table.
Wallets, cell phones, keys. Some have left screaming babies and have never returned. (I’m starting a tribe of warrior orphans. Inquire within.)
I suppose they’re thinking “Hey, that barista making $X/hour will surely deter any would-be criminal/thiefy-type/purloiner, right?”
Welp, for my money, I don’t place bets like that. Humanity is ugly. Have you seen the video of the guy who got stabbed on the street, and laid there dying while a bunch of pedestrians passed by and didn’t bother to help? It’s now a major motion picture.
Hot coffee is hot!
A real danger! (With a bit of exaggeration) Yes, if someone spills it on you, you’ll probably live. But what if it was spilled on that aforementioned $1,200 laptop you just bought on what was left of your credit card?
Times are tough, but they’ve always been tough for the majority of screenwriters. If you lose your laptop, chances are, you probably can’t afford to replace it right away.
And, if it’s damaged to the point where you can’t get data off of it, and you have no backups… (and please tell me you have backups.) …then there goes your script. Heck, there goes your life, for most of us.
In close, please don’t let my poorly-phrased, not-funny, sky-is-falling take on coffee shop screenwriting bust your chops. After all, what’s good for some caffeinated screenwriting geese isn’t necessarily good for the caffeinated screenwriting gander. If you love the coffee shop, and you love to write there, and it helps you get into your script, keep the coffee coming!
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about someone pouring scalding hot coffee on you, stealing your laptop, and then destroying your identity. Happy writing!