Hear the hiss of steam coming from the nozzle of the espresso machine? The murmuring sounds of people in conversations about their upcoming vacations, their late night escapades, and their fears about their careers fill in the gaps between the tinny sounds of the cash drawer opening and closing and the occasional electronic noises emitting from nearby phones, laptops, and tablets. Welcome to the coffee shop – filled with so many different noises writing a novel, planning a project, or doing any sort of creative work must be incredibly difficult. Yet, look around and you’ll see people tap-tap-tapping away at keyboards writing the next great bit of fan fiction.
Normally, low level noise prevents productivity, yet a study (not a recent study) performed by Ravi Mehta discovered that when people have chosen to be in an environment like a coffee shop, the small amount of noise actually spurs creativity. The idea really is simple. Contemplating something in the quiet of a library or silent room is great for focus but not necessarily good for creativity. The mind craves input. It craves stimulation in order to make connections, leaps of logic beneficial to the creative process.
The next time you are writing and need to overcome a block, pack up your materials, head off to the nearest coffee shop, and be one of those pretentious pricks writing about some soulless cretin seeking meaning in a hedonistic life all the while learning a greater lesson about friends, family, and the value of a good hamburger. Those pretentious pricks are onto something.