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At Japan's anti-procrastination cafe, writers can enjoy tea—and incessant check-ins

The Manuscript Writing Cafe in Tokyo, Japan, has 10 seats reserved for writers, editors, manga artists and anybody else struggling to meet their deadlines.

At Japan's anti-procrastination cafe, writers can enjoy tea—and incessant check-ins
Image Source: patriciamou_ / Twitter

If you are a writer, you have probably struggled with meeting deadlines at some time or other. Whether it's writer's block or otherwise, looming deadlines can be difficult to manage, especially if you're a chronic procrastinator. A cafe in Tokyo, Japan, has figured out the perfect solution. Writers go to the Manuscript Writing Cafe with a simple understanding: they cannot leave the cafe until they have completed all the work they set out to do. They have access to the things every writer needs to succeed (like coffee, obviously) and the cafe's staff will check in with customers to make sure they are on track, CNN reports.


The Manuscript Writing Cafe originally began as a livestreaming space. The brick-and-mortar store was badly hit by the pandemic, but things have started to pick up as word of mouth spreads about its new format. There are 10 seats reserved specifically for writers, editors, manga artists and anybody else grappling with the written word and deadlines, and customers can help themselves to unlimited coffee and tea. They also have access to high-speed wireless internet and docking ports. When customers enter, they write down their names on a board along with their writing goals for the day and the approximate time that they hope to meet them.


Customers can also request "progress checks" as they work. These check-ins are available on a scale, ranging from "mild" to "hard." If a customer asks for "mild" check-ins, staff will only ask them if they have met their writing goals as they pay. If they ask for "normal" check-ins, the cafe staff will check in on them every hour. Those who request "hard" check-ins will feel silent pressure from staff frequently standing behind them. If this sounds like exactly what you need to stay on top of your writing workload, you can thank Takuya Kawai, 52, the founder of the Manuscript Writing Cafe.


Kawai, a writer, said, "The cafe went viral on social media and people are saying the rules are scary or that it feels like being watched from behind. But actually, instead of monitoring, I am here to support them ... As a result, what they thought would take a day actually was completed in three hours, or tasks that usually take three hours were done in one."


The cafe charges 130 yen (about $1.01) for the first 30 minutes and then 300 yen ($2.34) every successive hour for use of the space. Almost everyone who steps in has eventually gotten their work done—although a few folks have had to stay past the official closing time. Emiko Sasaki, 37, is a blog writer. She said she was grateful for the opportunity to be free of pesky social media notifications and phone calls. She affirmed, "It is good to be able to concentrate on writing." She was able to complete three blog articles in just three hours. "I do not know what kind of work might be born [here]," Kawai concluded. "But I am proud to be able to offer my support so that things written here can be published to the whole world."


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