Writers need to get out of the house.

1940: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre take up residence, almost, in the Café de Flore in Paris. They work in the morning, see friends in the afternoon and write more in the evening. The café is warm and provides succour for body and mind during the Occupation.

2007: I sit in my local café and feel like a knob. The café itself is great: it’s situated in the road where the district I live in gets posher (Lower Highgate, or Lo-Hi as no doubt an estate agent will soon refer to it). But I still feel like a knob. Perhaps it’s because they sell organic rye bread and fresh anchovies to passing sophisticates. Maybe it’s because I often see food critic and Birds Eye peas fan Giles Coren having his eggs benedict, or Noel Fielding from the Mighty Boosh sipping a latte in his rock star sunglasses. It might be because I’m sitting here, paying real (what my grandmother would have called good) money for pots of tea when there’s PG tips at home. Six pounds spent in a couple of hours, five days a week, plus a newspaper and fizzy pop for the way home. Even more if you add a quick spot of lunch. That’s £70 a week, easy. Would sharing an office be cheaper? Or moving to Deptford where you can get a cuppa for 30p?

"How to get your creative juices flowing"
By Sian Pattenden
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2 thoughts on “Writers need to get out of the house.

  1. the cafe she’s talking about is Kalendar on Swains Lane – very nice I’ve been there often for breakfast when visiting a friend in London.

  2. De Beauvoir and Sartre likely didn’t get their coffee for free, assuming there was any to be had during the Occupation. You write where you are inspired to write, where you can get the work done, and where you find your subject matter. If it costs you money to do it, it’s a business investment (assuming you’re making a living at it). If not, then consider it an extravagant business expense. Either way, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just keep writing. Oh, and keep in mind that those cozy coffee haunts can be just as limiting to your creativity as your own home. How long before you see it as an extension of your living room?

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