Writing in Public


I'm told, writing in coffee shops is a good thing. Photo  from Blake Thompson dhat Net.
I’m told, writing in coffee shops is a good thing. Photo from Blake Thompson dhat Net.

Question: How do you feel about writing in public?

I just realized I hate writing in public. I’ve suspected this before, but my discomfort with public writing was really hammered home today. I’ve been working at my campus library for several hours today. For the first few hours, I was in an otherwise empty corner with my back to the wall. I got up to go to class and when I came back I found myself hoping that the same computer station was open. Because there were two other students sitting around it in my mind it wasn’t really open and I moved on. Ironically, I find myself now sitting at a station with two others around me, typing away on this post.

I am decidedly uncomfortable about this. However, I feel it’s important to work through discomfort, and that’s why I’m forcing myself to write this post.

Why do I have hang ups about writing in public? I don’t know for sure but I have theories. First of all, as I’m mentioned in a previous post, I’m a very private person. The storyteller in me makes it easy to hide that fact. I liberally share stories about myself and my life (and in some situations may even be considered ‘chatty’), but I don’t share a lot of personal details. I know this is problematic so I made a promise that I’ll be reasonably open about my thoughts and feelings so long as people ask.

But if no one’s asking I’d rather keep it to myself. Staying private in public extends beyond writing. I prefer wearing headphones when I listen to music, even if I’m alone, just in case someone might hear what I’m listening to. According to the Liebowitz Social Anxiety scale, it’s not likely that I have a social anxiety disorder, and based on my own knowledge of mental health diagnoses these hangups don’t come close to impeding my life the way they would for someone who actually suffers from SAD. I just have some weird quirks. Somewhat counter-intuitively, if you were to throw an unfamiliar lesson plan for elementary or middle schoolers at me thirty minutes before I was expected to teach the lesson to a class of 30, while being record over CCTV, I can and have done that without a second thought. I feel like a lot of people would be freaked out in that situation.

I’m pretty sure when it comes to writing, I’m not worried about others seeing what I’m writing. I’m about to post this and put it out in the very public interwebs, so why should I care if other people are around me while I writing it?

I dunno. I just do. I’m going to have to write in public more often. It’ll be good for me. I’ve actually already started to feel more comfortable in the time it took me to write this.


3 thoughts on “Writing in Public

  1. I feel similar to you when it comes to writing in public. My sister and I, whenever our schedules coincide and give us the chance to, go to our local Barnes and Noble to write. We try to find a little corner or table and stay out of the way of the other customers (usually because we can get silly and loud, but I digress), but neither of us appreciates people looking over our shoulders to see what we’re writing. However, the busy atmosphere of a public setting, especially one that has books and coffee, tends to get us inspired, and it’s a nice change of setting once in a while. You never know what kind of characters or situations you’ll see when out in public with a notebook and a laptop. Happy writing!

    1. Hmmm. I think I could get behind writing at Barnes and Noble or another bookstore. Maybe my love of bookstores would cancel out my dislike of writing in public.

  2. I often find myself a cozy spot at Starbucks and write . . . I do not meet the criteria for social anxiety either, but I tend to shy away from most things social, I’m fine as long as no one is in my bubble.

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