Focus Help at Cafe

Crumpled paper and a chewed pencil
Crumpled paper and a chewed pencil (source)

For many people, the challenge of trying to complete a piece of writing is left behind in high school or university. For those who take on writing as a profession, the struggle remains real. A new cafe in Tokyo aims to help those people.

The Manuscript Writing Cafe has the normal features that anyone looking to work in a cafe has come to expect, like high-speed Wi-Fi and power outlets. It also provides unlimited self-service coffee and tea. Where the cafe really differs is through social pressure and expectations to help writers focus on their work.

When customers enter the cafe, they are expected to put down their writing goals on paper along with the time they will finish. They can also choose to have their progress checked on in various ways. Choosing mild means the cafe staff will ask about their progress when they leave. Choosing normal means the staff will check on them every hour. The strongest option, hard, has a staff member periodically loom behind the customer as they work.

The cafe makes money by charging 130 yen (about $US1) for the first half hour and 300 yen per hour after that. So far, the customers, among them writers, editors, and manga artists, have successfully used the extra motivation to complete their work.


For source links, see the article on

Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Focus (v) - to give attention to something, to concentrate
  • Leave behind (phr. v) - to not bring something with you, to purposefully forget
  • Take on (phr. v) - to accept a job or a challenge
  • Profession (n) - a job that requires training or skill
  • Struggle (n, v) - the effort you put into doing a difficult task
  • Manuscript (n) - a piece of writing before it is published
  • Power outlet (n) - a device in a wall where you can put a plug and receive electricity
  • Periodically (adv) - regularly
  • Loom (v) - to appear above someone in a slightly frightening and passive way
  • Motivation (n) - the reason someone does something


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Have you been to Japan? What did you see there? If not, are you interested in going? To see what?
  2. Can you focus on a task easily? For how long?
  3. What do you think about the Manuscript Writing Cafe? Would you like to go there?
  4. Do you drink coffee, tea, or something else to help you concentrate?
  5. When people go to work for eight hours or more, how much of that time do they spend focused on their work? What else do they do?
  6. In some jobs, workers are heavily monitored, but in others, workers only meet their bosses occasionally. Which situation produces better work?
  7. What kinds of writing do you do in your daily life? Do you type or use a pen?
  8. If you were a professional writer, what kind of writing would you do?
  9. When you have to do something, do you procrastinate? That is, are you slow to start? Do you do other things to avoid starting?
  10. Can we be creative on a schedule? Don’t we need time to dream?