Why I Started Writing in Public

Why I Started Writing in Public

by Cody Wagner

My typical weekday morning goes like this:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Hit SNOOZE.
  3. Wake up.
  4. Hit SNOOZE.
  5. Wake up.
  6. Shower, brush my teeth, etc…
  7. Sit at my desk and do “real” work.

OK, while I admit I might hit SNOOZE a few more times than listed, this is pretty much what I do every morning.

Then, when my “real” work is finished, I begin writing.

It’s about that time the itch hits. For some reason, I get fidgety and have no desire to be in my place anymore. I used to think that maybe I just wasn’t in a writing mood. But then I tried something. Instead of taking a break, I packed up my laptop and wandered to somewhere random, maybe a park or coffee shop or heavy metal concert. OK maybe not the concert, but you get the idea.


After grabbing a coffee (and about 9 scones), I sat down to write. At first, I thought there would be way too many distractions. I mean, how can you focus on your novel when a woman is ordering her iced coffee with no ice?

Amazingly, though, I found I actually really liked it. Here’s why:

Writing in public appeases Extrovert Cody (TM)

I’m one of those rarish extroverted writers. Consequently, I get my energy from being around people. If I’m by myself day in and day out, I start getting stir crazy and can actually feel my mood wane. Being around folks helps me to recharge. Even if I stick my headphones in and don’t actually talk to anyone, the hum of chatter/laughter/gossip around me picks me up. That’s really important as one of my initial worries about writing was the seclusion. I imagined authors holing up for months on end. That thought actually horrifies me. Working in public makes me feel more connected.

Some people have asked if it’s way too distracting. Perhaps surprisingly, writing in public actually helps me. Well, not when the twins in a stroller are having a screaming duel. Other than that, though, I can usually get sucked into my writing and the noise around me is almost like music.

Writing in public generates ideas

The other day, I was sitting at Starbucks watching a little kid acting like a total brat. His dad got super frustrated and tried to ignore him. That made the kid act up even more. At one point, the kid actually held a mug over his head like he was going to break it. Finally, the dad turned to him and said, “Wanna go outside and play in traffic?”

Now, I don’t think the dad meant it and was just having a frustrated moment, but I about fell out of my seat. After picking my jaw off the floor, I opened Word and typed that little scenario. Now it’s the beginning of a new short story.

Being out and about gives you the change to observe people, and I think that’s how so many good stories happen. It also keeps our observation skills sharp.

Writing in public can lead to opportunities

A friend of mine created a bumper sticker that reads “Need a writer? Let’s talk!” He plastered it to the back of his laptop and sits in places where it’s very visible. That’s such a tiny thing, but he’s actually landed work because of it! Just last week, a guy was grabbing coffee, saw the sticker, and they had a quick chat. Afterwards, they exchanged information that might lead to a writing project.

Talk about a super mega cheap way to market yourself!

Often, just being around people can lead to opportunities. After all, every company in existence needs writing done at one point or another. If not, at least you should have some stories to tell the grandkids in thirty years. Or tomorrow.

cody-wagnerCody Wagner loves to sing, mime (not really), and write. His award-winning debut novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, recently “came out.” See what he did there? Check out his writing and see more of his wackiness at Wagner-Writer.com, or find him on Twitter (@cfjwagner), Goodreads, and Amazon.

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1 Response to Why I Started Writing in Public

  1. Beth Kozan says:

    Hmmm. I’ll have to try that some time, Cody!


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