Friday, November 29, 2013

Gifts for the Writer in Your LIfe

by J. Lea López

We hope our American Write Anglers all had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. But that means we are now officially entrenched in the Christmas shopping season. Or if you're a bit behind on Hanukkah gifts, you can probably find/create some of these things in the next six days. Of course these gift ideas work for birthdays and just-because occasions as well. Who doesn't like a gift now and then? We've put our heads together and come up with some great gift ideas for the writer in your life.

By Ildar Sagdejev via Wikimedia Commons
Tools of the trade 

Writers write. That's what we do. So any of the things we regularly use to do so are always welcome gifts. R.C. recommends things like pens, notebooks, and Post-It notes for excellent stocking stuffers. Personally, I write everything (yes, even novels) longhand first, and then transcribe it, so I always love pens and notebooks. Just make sure they're practical. There comes a point when a beautiful pen or ornate notebook become so pretty I don't want to use them. A big five-subject notebook and a two-pack of gel pens are perfect for me. Keep an eye on what your writer uses and buy those things. If they constantly have notes and outlines all over the place, maybe a giant cork board for their writing nook would be perfect. Or heck, even creating a writing nook for them if they don't have one already is a great idea!

If you're looking for bigger ticket gift ideas in this category, perhaps your writer could use a new laptop or desktop computer, a netbook or tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard for noveling on the go, an e-reader, or a new ergonomic desk chair.

Jemi suggests software or subscription items. Have they been eyeballing writing software like Scrivener? Or if they're gearing up to submit to agents, a premium subscription to Query Tracker is a thoughtful gift. Don't forget sites like Writer's Digest or literary journals and magazines that publish short stories and poetry that you think your writer would enjoy.

I often struggle with thinking of more than the same five basic names over and over again, so something like a big book of baby names would be helpful. If you're a woman giving this gift to your boyfriend or husband who writes, just be careful with your delivery, or they might think they're getting a different holiday surprise! And if you know a writer is working on a particular topic, look for books or reference guides that may be helpful for them, like books about: historical fashion, castles of Ireland, Brazilian cuisine, medieval architecture, and so on.

Homemade coupon books

This was by far the most popular suggestion among the crew this year! I kind of hope I get one from somebody this year. (wink wink, dear husband!) Sophie says:

"If you have a writer in your life he/she is ALWAYS short of writing time. Always. Remember those little coupon books you used to make as a gift for your parents back in elementary school? Make one for your writer. Give him/her a coupon for "One hour of interruption- and child-free writing time" or a coupon saying you will "take the kids to a long movie" or take over some chore/task that would ordinarily fall on said writer's list."

And Mindy adds this caveat:

"At the bottom of the coupon put a disclaimer: FREE TIME ACQUIRED IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS COUPON MUST BE USED FOR WRITING. COUPON IS INVALID IF ACQUIRED FREE TIME IS USED FOR NAPPING, SURFING THE INTERNET OR CLEANING THE HOUSE."

Jean adds that you can also give coupons for ways that YOU can assist your writer with their writing and business needs if you have the resources/skills, such as ones that say you:

"Will research cover designers and find price. Will go to bank and get information on starting a business account. Or will set you up with a meeting with so-and-so from work so you can chat about legalities of copyright, etc. Or create, fix, build a website. Basically those little things writers feel they should do but put off for ages."

Books! Duh!

By Coyau via Wikimedia Commons
As Sophie says, "Writers are readers too--so a gift card to your local Indie, to B&N or to Amazon will probably be a big hit." And probably the simplest of all: "Buy the writer's book. Seriously. Buy more than one copy to give to others and ask your writer friend/spouse/colleague to sign them. Believe me you will put a huge smile on the writer's face. And let's face it books make great gifts and great stocking stuffers."

In addition to books they might like to read, I say you shouldn't rule out gorgeous coffee table books full of pictures. Waterfalls, planets and stars, portraits, collections of classical art, adorable animals, babies, lightning strikes... sometimes there's nothing like big, vivid imagery to jumpstart a writer's imagination.

And finally, if you're thinking "my writer has too many books already!" maybe what they'd really love is a set of fun bookends or a beautiful bookcase to show off all their treasures.

What are some other gift ideas for writers?

7 comments:

Luciferadi said...

Great ideas!! :) Excellent point about the big notebook and pens. Despite the fancy shmancy notebooks I've acquired, what I *use* is a cheap Hello Kitty notebook and markers. My lapdesk is also invaluable, and might be a good idea for a not-too-expensive-but-more-than-a-secret-santa gift. Also, what about an iTunes gift card for writers who like a soundtrack?

Jean Oram said...

I have a baby book name by Bruce Lansky with 100,001 names in it. It is AMAZING. It also shows which names were popular in which decades which is handy for naming older characters. :)

J. Lea Lopez said...

Luciferadi, that's a great idea! Gift cards for iTunes or premium memberships to things like Spotify, XM or Pandora. Love it.

Jean, I really need to get myself a baby names book, too. I love the thought of one that has historical references like that and that include stuff like origins and meanings.

cleemckenziebooks said...

I loved the suggestion about Scrivener. I may have to explain what that is to my family. They think I chisel my books in stone. :-)

J. Lea Lopez said...

Haha! When other writers hear that I write all my first drafts longhand they kind of look at me like I said I was chiseling in stone!

I thought of another today, as I cringed at the price tags in OfficeMax: printer ink! Find out their printer make/model and buy them some fresh ink cartridges.

Matt Sinclair said...

Oh, great idea, Jen! You had me at OfficeMax (or Staples, or...)

J. Lea Lopez said...

Yeah, I get a little bit giddy in office supply stores. I love ALL THE THINGS! Even the things I don't now nor will I ever need!