Go out and get yourself a cup of coffee.

When you tune in to your writerly brain, any outing can be a writing retreat. | lucyflint.com

Here's your weekend assignment. Go out and get yourself a cup of coffee. (Or tea. Or hot chocolate. Or whatever.) And turn your cafe visit into an adventure--a kind of writing expedition.

There is a long, long tradition of writers working (or not working) in places where drinks are served. Even if you've had a crappy writing week--especially if you've had a crappy writing week--this is still a writing ritual you can participate in.

Plus: you get a coffee. It's a win, all the way around.

Play it up if you like: Try out a new place, where you won't run into anyone you know. Dress mysteriously. Bring a new pen, a blank composition book.

And then eavesdrop. Write down the dialogue you hear around you--without any descriptions, just as a series of quotes. 

Immerse yourself in the place, the feel of it. How would it translate into a paragraph in a novel, or a scattering of phrases in a short story? 

Jot down notes on a napkin. Write down descriptions of the faces you see, descriptions of the voices, the scream of the espresso machine, the particular jangle of the bells hanging over the door.

Try to capture it in just nouns and verbs, in concrete terms. Get it all: the screaming toddler in the stroller, the hypercool teenager immersed in his iPhone, the overparticular-about-the-quality-of-the-espresso customer. The newspaper headlines, the array of pastries, the funky baristas, the warmth of the coffee hitting your veins. 

Be the writer in the corner who notices everything. The spy in plain sight.

After all, this is your dream job, right? Have a dream job kind of outing.

Imagine deeper meanings behind every casual gesture you see. Decide what would happen if a few of these characters were forced to face a certain conflict, a totally unexpected challenge. Mess with the whole scene: shake the coffeehouse in your mind like it's a snow globe, and see what happens as all the elements resettle.

If nothing else, just write down a string of random nouns. Scratch your pen over some paper, and feel that bit of word-glee bubbling in your brain (or is that the caffeine?). 

Go be a person, go be a writer, go get some coffee.