12 Tips for Writers in Residence, The Etiquette of Cafe Squatting (Important for Authors)

I am, all too often, found in a cafe. I’m an oddly social writer, Gentle Reader.

Borderlands Cafe honey & agave

I enjoy the busy hum, not to mention the drink and food options. My dear friend Dan and I are regularly found sitting opposite each other, nested in a corner, gossiping about the industry or typing diligently. It helps me to have another writer around, gives me the competitive edge.

Gail: How many words have you done?
Dan: 600,000
Gail: Curses!

1882 Alexandria Egypt Grand Square Cafe

But I have discovered, to my distress that my fellow computer typing cafe cronies do not always follow the Etiquette of Squatting. I feel they are giving the rest of us a bad name. So I have decided, in the spirit of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, to set forth some tips for proper conduct.

1. Do not squat a super busy or small (or both) cafe
If tables are scarce, or you know a certain day/time when it’s particularly popular, go during off hours, skip that day, or find a different cafe
2. Purchase rights of presence
One cup of coffee is OK for an hour, you get another hour with a paid refill, anything after that and you should buy food or support the cafe in some substantial way, especially if you are using their power/wifi. Can’t afford this? Go to a library.
3. Pitch in
Bus your own table, bus other tables, contribute to the conversation, tell newcomers how great the food is, change the toilet paper rolls in the loo, etc…
4. Introduce yourself
Determine the owner/manager/leader and be nice, if this is to be your workplace as well as theirs, act like it.
5. Help market
Show an interest in making the business strong, write yelp reviews, like the Facebook page, talk the place up to others, make it known to your local friends that they can join you for lunch (thus they bring their money in too).
6. Regulars are part of the future, so be good furniture
Try to be positive and upbeat, keep your area clean and free of piles of computer cases and accessories, shower properly, dress appropriately.
7. Tolerate intrusions
Be willing to chat with other regulars (at least for a short space of time), not only is it polite but you could get characterization for future books and/or new readers.
8. Monitor your conversational sphere
If your conversation gets racy, or political, or loud, keep an eye out for children or others who might be offended and table it for later, pun intended.
9. Establish a regular pattern of attendance
Then the staff can depend on you and your purchasing power, making you particularly welcome if you come during slow days and off hours.
10. Mute your critters
Laptop speakers in particular, but also other devices (at least pick an unobtrusive ring tone), and take those calls OUTSIDE.
11. Think about scent
This is a place that serves food, so please do not apply strong cologne or perfume, and if you must bring your animal with you please sit outside, you may not smell it, but others do (not to mention allergies).
12. Tip generously
This should go without saying.

I guess, in general, I’m suggesting you practice empathy with the cafe staff, owners, and customers around you. If you follow all these tips diligently and still get the stink eye from staff, respect their unspoken request and move on. There are cafes out there that cater to regulars. Look for places boasting free wi-fi and comfy chairs, boards games, and stocked bookshelves in out-of-the-way locations. They want your business, give it to them.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1888 Graduates, Ladies' Annex
1888 Graduates, Ladies’ Annex

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
via Apartment Therapy (I have a thing about vanishing edge pools)

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Origami Wine Tote
Origami Wine Tote

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
How to Write Characters That Don’t Sound Like You

Book News:

Fan art of Formerly Merriway

Quote of the Day:
“There are a few rules which men should commit to memory, in corresponding with busy people.
1. Don’t write at all.
2. When you can’t help it, be sharp, short, and legible.
3. When you write on your own business, pay for the answer.
4. When you want money, don’t begin with piety or flattery. Beg first, be pious afterward.
5. Don’t beg of any one with whom you are not personally acquainted. Die, but don’t beg.
We can add to the above that long letters sent with a MS rather act against it. And, moreover, don’t forget to send a stamp for a reply.”
~ Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine September 1872


Posted by Gail Carriger


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