Coffee & Cock Rings: Café Writing Tips for Sex Bloggers

Cafés are my number-one favorite workspace. I brainstorm blog post ideas while walking from place to place, take photos at home, edit and fine-tune wherever I can, but the bulk of my actual writing takes place in the windows of coffee shops, over caffé americanos and blueberry muffins.

It’s not that I can’t work at home – it’s that I don’t. There are too many distractions, too many avenues for procrastination. I find it difficult to muster up motivation to write when I’m surrounded by entertaining electronic devices, talkative family members, and my inviting bed. Cafés offer me a zen-like retreat from this world of interruptions and temptations. When I go to a coffee shop to write, I know I have to actually write, because that is the express purpose of the outing. So I do.

I’m not alone in this habit. Writers and coffeehouses have been culturally linked since the days of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and even earlier. Most of my writer friends, especially those who freelance from home, turn to cafés as a workspace at least some of the time, citing the distraction-free zone and ample caffeine access as the attractions that keep them coming back.

A study out of the University of Chicago put forth one possible explanation for cafés’ effect on productivity: the noise. Apparently there is a just-right level of ambient noise which encourages creativity without impeding focus. Inspired by this phenomenon, some smart folks started Coffitivity, a web app that helps you re-create that bustling café environment in your own home. It’s lovely – but, as I’ve said, my preference for coffee-shop writing has less to do with the noise and more with the environment itself.

As you can imagine, public places aren’t ideal for writing dildo reviews and sex stories. You never know when someone might peer over your shoulder and be scandalized by what they see. (I once wrote an entire article about Cumbersmut while some 12-year-old boys argued about girls at the next table over. Yikes.) I certainly don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, so I work as discreetly as I can. Here are some tips for other sex bloggers in the same boat…

Choose your seat wisely. I usually sit at the window because a) the view is nice and b) there’s enough distance between the row of window seats and the other seating areas that probably no one will have a good view of what I’m working on. You can also sit with your back to the window or wall, if your café has some chairs oriented that way. No one’ll have a clear angle on your computer screen unless they’re specifically trying to look at it.

Do the super-X-rated work at home. Maybe you watch that porn DVD in your bedroom, take detailed notes, and then cart your laptop to a café to write the actual review. Maybe you write your dildo review at the coffee shop but leave the photo editing for later, so the other patrons won’t get an eyeful of silicone cock.

Turn your screen brightness down. I do this if I need to momentarily have something explicit on my screen – like if I’ve forgotten how many ridges there are on the vibrator I’m reviewing and I need to glance at a reference image to count ’em. It’s very hard to see the contents of a dim laptop screen unless you’re face-to-face with it, so it’s less risky this way.

Have a list of everything you need to get done, and stick to it. When I’m away from the ongoing to-do list I keep on my desk, I often lose focus and drift off-task. I’m way more productive at cafés if I have a few specific things I need to get done – write post X, email person Y, research article Z, etc. I make a list for the day in my phone’s Notes app or just write on a post-it note that I stick to my laptop. Failing to plan is planning to fail!

Have a fake answer prepared in case of nosy questions. True, if a barista or café lurker asks you what you’re working on, you could just tell them, “A sex blog.” There’s no shame in that. But I find that this answer always invites further questions that I don’t want to answer. If I’m there to work, I want to work, not explain to some inquisitive stranger why a woman would want to write about sex on the internet. So if anyone asks me what I’m working on, I usually just say, “A school assignment.” If they probe further, I’ll tell them it’s something complex-sounding, like a paper on existentialism or 19th-century literature. That usually shuts the convo down pretty quick, so I can get back to writing about vibrators and ass-fucking.

Keep a “vanilla window” open. You know, like you used to do when you were 14 and your parents could walk in on you watching porn at any moment. Keep a tab open to Google or a news website or whatever, so that if your aunt, your boss, or a six-year-old child happens to stroll into the café, you can just switch to that tab until you’re safe again.

Bring headphones. I do this even when the work I’m doing will probably not involve audio, because you never know. Sometimes you’ll be researching a post and the information you need is only available in video format. Sometimes your porn review notes are messy and you need to refresh your memory about what exactly that porn star yelled during her orgasm. Sometimes someone tweets you a link to a song they think you need to hear, and you decide you do indeed need to hear it.

Be really nice to the café employees. They let you hang out for hours working on your blog, and they also keep you caffeinated, those sweethearts. Treat them well!

Do you ever blog from cafés? What are your best tips?

  • Great post & ideas! I recently made a bad seating choice while working and couldn’t
    concentrate b/c I felt like people were looking–I usually try to sit with my back/computer facing a wall if possible. And I too do a “vanilla” tab.

  • Come Heather

    Good advice! I had a creeper hoverin’ around me after he caught a glimpse of the fact that I was researching dildos. He didn’t grasp the notion that the adult content of a café patron’s website does not indicate the desire of that patron to have sex with strangers in said café.

  • Artemisia FemmeCock

    I love these ideas, especially because I often need living and working space separation to feel motivated. Cafes never work out for me though because I’m far more distracted in public, mostly because I’m a creepy people watcher, so private spaces are better when I want to get things done.

  • Great post! I was thinking that headphones can also be used to deter people away, because who wants to talk to someone that is not listening? Even if you are listening, they don’t know that. Plus, I like music when I write. It keeps my flow going.

  • That’s great advice! If you’re interested 3M makes privacy screens so that you can really only see what’s on the computer from right in front of it, otherwise it looks more like a black screen. They use them in banks and such. Not sure what size macbook is in your photo, but I found this on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/3M-Privacy-MacBook-13-Inch-PFMP13/dp/B005NFG2O0

  • I love the tip about having a “cover story.” I’m never prepared and always end up telling people the truth, which launches me into a whole barrage of more questions and interest. Very good solution.