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Weird little productivity app

Posted March 22, 2014 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm not much impressed by those writers who 'work' in cafes. Or maybe I should say, I'm not much impressed by anyone pretending to be a writer - technical term: poet – who spends all of their days in cafes scribbling in notebooks.

You're doing it wrong!

Real writing means standing at your desk, pants down, screaming into dictation software. Headbutting and punching the screen may also be necessary.

But, according to science there is something about the soft background hum of a cafe or anywhere really with a muted buzz, that somehow focusses the mind and increases producitvity.

Don't question me. Science said so.

It might just be something to do with the lonesomeness of long distance writing. You do go a bit shack-wacky after a while. Luckily, there's an app for that.

Coffitivity.

This thing sits on your desktop or pad or phone and pushes out the sound of a reasonably busy, but not chaotic cafe, or bar, or whatevs. It even comes with different loops for differen times of the day; breakfast, lunch and so on.

It seems completely naff and an utter waste of time, so of course I had to try it. I was editing A Protocol for Monsters yesterday, taking changes made necessary by plot developments later in the series. This meant working with a keyboard, not Dragon (which has patched v4 to work properly again).

I streamed the 'Morning Murmur' of a coffee shop to my Bose bluetooth speaker and let some quiet Charlie Parker tunes play directly from the iMac.

Boom!

It was actually like working in a cafe, but without the four dollar flat whites.

Did it help?

I have no fucking idea. But it felt less lonesome than just throwing on music and hammering away at the manuscript. If you hit up the link above you can hear for yourself what it does.

14 Responses to ‘Weird little productivity app’

Rob mumbles...

Posted March 22, 2014

I wonder if there is an open plan office version, you know one that actually decreases productivity. That can only be cancelled out by putting on your headphones and cranking up Hatebreed and pretending to work, when really all your doing is reading the burger and Cracked and designing paintings.

On second thoughts. I don't need that app.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted March 22, 2014

Ha. Gold.

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted March 22, 2014

only $4 for a coffee?

tell you odn't live in WA!

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 22, 2014

I used to write in various Starbucks mainly because I could get free tea refills or cheap ones at least. As time marched on and more screaming bastards and cackling hens showed up my productivity went into the toilet.

So, I do get a lot more done at home. If I do work in a cafe it is normally because I am far from the house and I want to get something done. For that effort I strap on some earbuds and play some instrumental music.

That said, much more productivity in Der Bunker.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted March 22, 2014

Though I guess we all have our methods, I dunno how anyone writes in a coffee shop. Seems like there would be endless distraction. A sensory deprivation chamber sounds kinda awesome as long as I could bring a desk, a decent computer, and an aeron in.

I'm fussy as fuck about keyboards. When I travel, I actually take a keyboard with me - and a new fold out stand called "The Roost".

I also travel with Mifis - have about 6 now. Got one of the Virgin ones when I was in the US two weeks back - so now I have decent mobile broadband there and don't have to rely on getting my traffic intercepted by nefarious bastards when connected to hotel wifi.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted March 23, 2014

I do my best writing in the bathroom with the water running from the tap. I know it is a bit quirky, but it works.

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ShaneAlpha would have you know...

Posted March 23, 2014

My theory is that I work better when surrounded by Bunnies on my tropical island.

This is, so far, untested.

How's it work for you JB?

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted March 23, 2014

JB mentioned in a research brief that while the gold plated hovercraft is nice for many things, the vibrations from the fans make typing nearly impossible. As for dictating, the soundproofing from the turbines needs a little work.

Not that I'd know from first hand experience.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted March 23, 2014

I've been keeping an eye on the pro tips you release here, so the "pants down and screaming" thing is interesting. Next time I have a go at writing something at home, I'll have to remember to get my vocal chords warmed up and drop my dacks.

I have been one to fill notebooks in cafes in the past. I guess if I did it at all these days I'd be filling them more with diagrams and calculations than the not-at-all-creepy people-watching notes, short stories and poetry I might have done as a 20-something.

Actually I find I work best (at that sort of thing, not that I've tried for a really long time) between 3 and 5am. I guess cafes that are open at that time tend to be such cool places to hang out that they may as well be a writing venue anyway. Though of course my version of "cool" isn't for everyone.

Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 23, 2014

Oh contrare` Damien!

I relish waking up in these hours.

Much clearer than staying wake till 1.30am.

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pixel8ted swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2014

This looks interesting. I'll try it. I can't work in cafes not because of the noise, rather it's the visual distractions that get me. There's too much going on so this may be a good alternative.

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slydare swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2014

I've been a fan of raining.fm for my background noise, but I did come across another coffee shop soundtrack last year. I can't remember it's name, but this one is MUCH better!

The one I tried had a girl relating some kind of truly inane anecdote, just loud enough to grab my attention but with no audible conclusion. Drove me absolutely insane as it looped forever onwards. Despite myself I still wonder what the story was about...

Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted March 24, 2014

I find waitresses buttcracks very productive.

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Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted March 24, 2014

+++But, according to science there is something about the soft background hum of a cafe or anywhere really with a muted buzz, that somehow focusses the mind and increases producitvity.+++

I can believe that. A very large proportion of my writing has been done in cafes, until my particular favourite got wise to me and stopped up the power point by the corner table. Bastards. And I was careful to order things regularly so I wasn't taking up a table unprofitably, too.

There's a particular sweet spot for background noise. If there are only a couple of people around me talking, I have a lot of trouble because I want to tune in on them instead of what I'm doing. (When I'm in the library this drives me INSANE.) But if there's a bit of ambient buzz, that seems to soothe the bit of my brain that's hunting around for input and would otherwise be badgering me to go over to YouTube or Twitter or Kingdom Rush or similar. With it nicely occupied I can power ahead.

I'm clearly wired very differently to the folks who put on music to write by, though. I can't work with music on at all.

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