Why write in a coffee shop?

Three years ago, I imposed a question on the popular social media site, Reddit. What is the appeal of a coffee shop?

For context, I posted this on the screenwriting sub-reddit where lots of aspiring and professional screenwriters come for a chat about writing resources, feedback on their work, advice and general questions about the industry. The question I threw in was in relation to why writers often decide to write in a coffee shop. At the time I had never given it a try and at best, the only public establishment I had written in was a library which isn’t really a fair comparison on account of the hush, hush enforcement.

It’s hard not to conjure up the thought of a conventional hipster, barefoot, wearing a pair of thick empty frameless glasses and a beanie on his head at the peak of summer, beard down to his bollocks, sitting on his MacBook, sipping a soy latte. Ah, who am I to judge? I love me a soy latte. But at least this guy’s trying his best to write that next big thing and for some reason chose to do it in this popular public establishment.

You can follow the link for the complete discussion and accreditation but here is a breakdown of what I discovered…


In this day and age, you have to travel pretty far and wide to avoid the internet and let’s be honest with ourselves, it might as well be the number 1 source of all global procrastination. Say for a minute you don’t have your phone on you but just a laptop. If that laptop’s only hope of reaching the glorious Elysium fields of the internet is via a decent wi-fi connection, then try and pick a café that doesn’t provide one. If you are prone to reaching for that monolithic device in your pocket or clicking on those social media shortcuts lingering around your search bar, avoid the Internet altogether. That one is pretty simple to understand, which kind of seeps into the next point.


If you have little to no will power when it comes to deviating from the task at hand, there’s an app for that! For Apple users there is an open source application which will allow you to tailor a suspension of internet functions. For a limited time of your choosing, you can have the app prevent you from using anything on your internet fuelled device that might harm your efficiency. If you are hard pressed to find a café a million miles from modern civilisation, maybe this is just the ticket.   


There is a truly fascinating study which in summary suggests that our brain is capable of processing distracting sounds, channelling the energy into creativity. Or at least that is my thin paraphrasing of the concept. When I was a wee lad, I often watched the old man manage to read a book in a room full of people talking with the television on full blast and seemingly ignore everything but the page. I suppose reading is a little different from writing in that respect but it is similar. I can’t make the assumption that this works on everyone but it is an interesting notion. YouTube offers an oddly varied range of background coffee shop ambient videos, that you can listen to on whatever platform supports it. So, you don’t even have to leave the safety of your own home to experience the pandemonium of chatter, clanging and steam wands whistling. Might be worth trialling it this way first before committing to braving the sunlight.


Distractions are everywhere but you may find that there are more distractions at home than at a coffee shop. No matter how similar distractions may be in form, whether it’s sight, sound, smell or touch or anything that tweaks the senses, there is always a more personal bond with home distractions that can appear absent in a public place. If a relative is present at home, you could easily engage in conversation with them but if an espresso enthusiast speaks at a café you don’t even need to acknowledge their existence. It’s not rude, you’re a stranger to them! Plus, there are some things you can get away with at home that might be frowned upon out in the open. Don’t think I need to mention what that might be. Think about it as preventative treatment.


Nobody is going to scrutinise you for being nosey or eavesdropping on conversations people are having around you. If what they are discussing is private, they shouldn’t have chosen to conduct their business in a place full of members of the public. People are a great source of inspiration and you might be amazed what observing them will spur on creatively. Got a touch of the ol’ writers block? Watch and listen.


This one is particularly relevant to aspiring screenwriters living in Los Angeles but I guess it could apply to anyone anywhere, given the right circumstances. If you’re watching people, people are likely watching you and if you’re there sitting on your laptop going ham on that keyboard, you’ll likely turn a few heads. I live in the outskirts of London so this is completely out of my personal experience but the theory is sound. Hollywood is filled with creatives in the Film and TV industry and although the obvious sight of you working on your project isn’t uncommon, there is great opportunity to network and perhaps one day you’ll connect with the right person who’ll offer you that big break.   


Lastly, if you like coffee and writing, a café is probably the place to be. There is nothing quite like a professionally crafted mug of artisan coffee brought over to your table with a smile. It sure beats instant made with water from a limescale-ridden kettle of eight years.   

Why do you write in a coffee shop? Leave a comment and let’s find out.



You’ve probably already guessed what gave me the inspiration for this short script. It’s been on my mind ever since I saw The Force Awakens and I often express this theory to anyone who shares a love for the universe George Lucas sparked off those many years ago. For the uninitiated, this little story is part of my Anecdotes of an Extra series where I completely make up the lives of screen extras both in character and actor form, from popular television and cinema. An industry standard format of the script written in Fade In can be found below, with correct spacing and margins and such. Or you can just scroll past that and read it here. Enjoy!


It’s a quiet Thursday and the night is young with only a few patrons present.

A young couple (early 30’s) sit close to each other at a high bar table. The man, TREVOR, a tall square shouldered gentleman, rests his arm on the shoulders of his girlfriend BETH, who is contented in his embrace.

They’ve come straight from work and remain mostly in their office attire. Both have a pint of local ale nestled between them, Trevor’s is almost empty and Beth isn’t far behind.

A what? -You mean from Star, Trek? -No.

(shakes head)
The other one. Spooky white plastic armour.

Yeah… No way you played a storm trooper.

I bloody did, the Force Awakens. I was a storm trooper, man! It must have been… two years before I asked you out I reckon. I’d just been made redundant right, from that long printing stint I did-

-You worked in print?

… Yeah. You knew that?

I thought you said you worked for a newspaper, assisting columnists weren’t it?

I did, they ain’t gonna print their work are they.

That’s not the same thing.

That’s not important – let me finish what I was saying.

Beth gives a cheeky grin before taking a sip of her ale.

So, I got a nice payout because of how many years I worked there. I was an apprentice straight out of school more or less so they owed me big. I made more than enough money to mooch about for a few months, and it happened just when my cousin Jim mentioned he was gonna have a go at film extra work. You know Jim, you met him at the wedding.


Well Jim ain’t got a theatrical bone in his body, so I’m thinking I can do one better because I learned guitar an-that.

I do go weak at the knees when you break out the Yamaha.

It’s in my genetics, I love to entertain babe. Stop taking the mick. Anyway, I join this agency he recommends, and who at the time were looking for tall blokes. Told them I was interested and available to work straight away, on anything they had to offer -proper get stuck in. When they eventually tell me more about the gig, I hear it’s a job on the new Star Wars, playing a military role. I’m beside myself at the prospect of being the most iconic goon in cinema history.

Beth takes a second to process this new fact about her boyfriend.

You were one of, like hundreds though right? And you never see their faces, they always keep their helmets on don’t they? Like a unified faceless terror.

That’s not the point. It was all about the experience of living a childhood dream… To begin with anyway.

You enjoyed yourself then?

I did. It was the maddest thing I’ve ever done. And I must have been half decent at it because I was picked to say a couple of lines.
Beth raises her eyebrows in bemusement, turning to face Trevor proper.

A load of us were asked if we were comfortable and capable enough to speak on camera. I put my hand up along with like eight other troopers, and one by one Mr. Abrams tells us in our best American accents -all storm troopers are yanks for some reason, don’t ask me why -to repeat the sentence…
(with an American accent)
‘I’ll tighten those restraints, scavenger scum’.
(back to British)
Wicked line, did not have a clue what it meant but still wicked. When he gets to me, I smash it don’t I? The director loves it and I get a chance to up my rate a bit, everyone’s happy… So it’s all very secretive, I’m not told a lot until the day of this scene I’m in, quite on the hush hush -I don’t even know who, if any, is gonna be in the scene with me. They bring me to the sound stage, this is the first time I’ve seen this awesome set that looks like a space interrogation room -hearts racing, shitting myself but never been more excited. The AD blocks the scene out with me, showing me where to stand and that.


Like one of the assistants to the big boss director. Shares some of the work. Real nice person, makes me feel right at home while we rehearse the sequence before the top talent are ready for us.

Trevor leans closer to Beth.

Now from behind the camera I can hear a crew member say double O seven is in the building. There are celebs all over the place at Pinewood and if it really is the gentlemen in question, he probably wondered over from the Bond sound stage they got over there -which actually burnt done once I might add. But I digress. There’s me trying not to get distracted but now I’m thinking of Daniel bloody Craig as well as the epic sci-fi I so happen to be a small part of. At this moment I’m just waiting around and trying to stop my brain from melting. Then, from behind one of these mental backdrops or whatever, I hear more talking. It’s the big boss himself having a conversation with…
(opens his hands)
Daniel Craig. There’s loads of people chatting among themselves but I can still hear what they’re talking about. I could even see them both just about, through a gap in the partition wall like a real creeper. It’s the usual stuff I’d reckon film-stars spurt about to each other, but just when I’m thinking this could be some big break for me, J.J. shouts ‘Hey Dan, I’ve got an amazing idea’-

-Then you got replaced.

They fucking replaced me.

Trevor smiles and shakes his head, a self-deprecating charm.

…How’d you guess?

Saw it on a top ten twenty celeb cameos vid.

Bloody-hell. Feel like an arse now, thought you might have liked that one.

I did. A near claim to fame.

…Who was only I kidding really? Probably would have dubbed over my voice anyway. Least I took home a few quid more. For-ma troubles.
Trevor looks down at his pint glass that he hasn’t touched during the whole anecdote. The golden liquid is near spent and the thin layer of foam sitting on top, somewhat depicts the Mickey Mouse symbol.
Beth notices her boyfriends light somber mood, a sympathetic grin on her. She steps up off the stool behind him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

I still love ya.

She plants an audible cartoon kiss on Trevor’s cheek, picks up the glasses, then heads over to the bar.


What did you think? Drop a comment and if you’re interested in short films or screenwriting or whatever, share your work!

Writing a Best Man Speech

Back in November 2016 I took on the most esteemed role of best man for a dear friend of mine I had known since school. I reluctantly accepted his offer that he sprung upon me one afternoon in the kitchen while drinking herbal tea. I wasn’t hesitant because I didn’t want to do it but more because I didn’t want to botch it up for him and his wife to be. This thought was constantly on my mind running up to the big day! There is a certain responsibility that comes with this position and speech writing aside, for someone with a bit of anxiety hovering over their head, there is an awful lot to consider. But this post isn’t about coping with all that, it’s about what I did to make a room of people listen to me for 5 minutes and make at least a couple of them laugh in the process, with something I wrote about two people in love. If you want to Know more about the obligations of a best man, just Google it, there are countless sites that will put your mind at ease.

I hadn’t practised my public speaking for a long time at that point and to be honest that was the biggest thing I was worried about. Writing the speech however, was a real delight. I’d given myself a week to write it and actually took a week off work to sit down and do it properly. It was also one week exactly before the wedding so I was highly motivated to say the least!


I remember thinking back to when I wrote my dissertation for the final year of my degree and how I cut it close back then too. It’s a good idea to give yourself ample time to put the words to paper but leaving it so close to the deadline did have its advantages. It gives you the opportunity to be as current as possible, especially where jokes are concerned. More people will be able to relate to what you are saying if part of what you are saying is in the limelight. If you can tailor your humour around subjects of public attention, this will help you command the room because the material is relatable. If you write it too early there is a chance you’ll have to rethink your approach when the content becomes unconnected.


On the subject of humour, you’ll want to leave the bride out of this one. Everyone who ever written and performed a traditional best man’s speech will probably advise that the bride is strictly off limits and under no circumstances will she be the butt of any jokes! The groom however, will never stand a chance. You’ll want him to fear you the moment you’re handed the microphone. Personal stories of a comical nature are best suited here and no doubt the stag do/bachelor party will summon some inspiration depending on when that happens. I had plenty of material to play around with but it’s really your decision to decide what you include here. A little self-deprecation goes a long way too.  


If you’ve got children present, which is most definitely the case, you’ll likely want to reel in the profanities a tad. You don’t want to scar them for life or have them badger mum and dad about strange things the man in the suit said about their uncle or whatever. Navigate the room, try to discover who will be attending. If you’re fortunate enough to meet the family and friends of both parties beforehand, either in life or at perhaps at the engagement party, then you’ll gage more the appropriateness of the speech. I made a joke about the reliability of a certain public transport service in the UK that almost everybody found funny, only later to learn three people including the Master of Ceremonies and the groom’s late father used to and presently work for the firm. Be that as it may, I interpreted it as a win.   


Be thankful, appreciate everyone there but also those who couldn’t be. This is particularly important for the bridesmaids traditionally but really anyone who makes the day special for the Mr and Mrs in question. Think of people close to them other than yourself and give them their dues. Offering respect to others is always nice, and who knows, you might get some back in return.


End on a high! This is the last thing they will remember! Not the champagne flute you raise for the final toast but the last sentence you spring from your gob. It can be funny, it can be heartfelt or maybe even a little sad, just make it relevant and make it strong.

This might all be terrible advice to give enlisted best men around the world but it worked for me… just about. Have a read of my speech and judge for yourself.       


Ladies and gentlemen…  Good afternoon. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Alex the Best Man.

Before I begin my speech, I just wanted to say a few words about the day that this wedding shares. I’m of course talking about Armistice Day, a day to commemorate peace and remember those who had given their lives for it. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remember James’ Dad, who as you know is no longer with us, but nonetheless witnessed the affection between James and Sarah when it was simply blossoming.

And so, I ask you kindly to join me in a moments silence, to remember a real character, who would love to have been here today.  


Thank you.

I’ve never been Best Man before and quite frankly I don’t mind telling you how terrified I’ve been about this speech. So please bear with me.

James has already mentioned the lovely bridesmaids and flower girls, but I thought I’d give you all a special mention too, so well-done Ladies. And Sarah, I’m not freighted to admit that I almost lost it seeing you walk the isle earlier… You look stunning!      

And to all you lads who helped me sort out the Stag Do, I couldn’t have done it alone so thanks for that too. We truly left our mark on London that evening… Or at least James did. All over the floor.

I mean a heavy dose of Wheat Beer, Bratwurst Sausage and sauerkraut was enough to blow your mind, let alone your stomach! 

I’ve had the great pleasure of tolerating James now for over 15 years, and I think like me, he’s quite a reserved chap, which has only made the mandatory character assassination all the more difficult. I must say though, that grey suit is a refreshing change of pace compared with the worn-out Metallica T-shirts he normally wares. And it’s nice to see you’ve combed your hair today too mate which makes a change.

I remember when James and Sarah first met back in our college days. Later going on their first “casual” date to the cinema. And like something out of a movie, they found themselves standing side by side, on a station platform in Stains, waiting for the last train home. The carriage pulls up and James stands, awkwardly looking back into the eyes of his crush. This is the longest departure of his life. The doors open up behind him and all of a sudden time stood still. He couldn’t wait any longer, he had to make it all official. He had to give her a kiss.

That’s right guys, there was a time when South Western Railway were good for something. 

The truth is, it’s difficult to find a fault in James. He’s considerate, he’s smart, he’s well organised, and for the most part, he’s got a good sense of humour. But he definitely doesn’t wear the trousers.

Which leads me to my next point…

Now, we as a nation have had a rich history of strong and inspirational women. And little did she know, Sarah became one of them, when she proposed to James. If you ask me, a practice that isn’t done often enough by women. So, I’d watch out boys!

You may have already heard how this chapter of their lives played out, but I leave you with my own take on the story… Here goes.

After several months of subliminal messaging and dropping hints of marriage, Sarah had grown tired of James and his obliviousness. Evidently, she couldn’t wait a single day longer. And so, followed the night of the big question.

Sarah had just got home from a vigorous jogging session. She’s energetic, she’s confident, she’s ready! Meanwhile James is preparing dinner in kitchen and all seems normal in the household.

Later that evening, the two lovers sit together watching the TV, but Sarah’s mind is focused only on the prize. The time to act is now she thought. And in a reckless attempt she reaches for the remote and turns off the TV. “James, I need to ask you something” she says. At this point James is completely dumbstruck, and all sorts of wild scenarios race though his head. 

Sarah takes a deep breath. And just like on their first date, time once again stood still. She asked him “Will you marry me?”.

To which James replied “If I say yes… will you put Game of Thrones back on?”  


Ladies and Gentlemen, I for one could not be happier that these two delightful people are finally married, so if you would stand with me and raise your glasses high!

To Mr and Mrs H!