19 December 2015

Gifts for writers

Whether you're looking for a holiday gift, a birthday gift, or a just-because gift, at least one of the following suggestions is bound to please the beloved writer in your life.

Gift card to favorite bookstore/online book retailer 
The vast majority of writers are readers, and reading helps us become better writers. Support us in our craft by helping fund our book-buying addiction! ;*) Price varies depending on how much you love us. (Just kidding!)

Gift basket
I love gift baskets! It's like getting a whole bunch of gifts in one. I recommend putting one together yourself rather than buying a pre-made one, as it's more likely to be in tune with your writer's preferences. Some ideas for what might go in: coffee or tea (depending on their stimulant preference), a favorite type of pen, a notebook/journal, a sugary snack, a salty snack. Price varies depending on what you put into it.

Qwerkywriter Bluetooth typewriter keyboard
A Bluetooth keyboard that looks like an old-school typewriter keyboard and has a built-in tablet stand. This thing is just cool. It's also regularly priced at $399. (Yikes!) Did I mention that it's really freaking cool?

Scrivener is an amazing software program for writers, and it's available for both Mac and PC for only $45 USD. I have already written a blog post about the awesome sauce that is Scrivener, so I won't repeat all my gushings here. It does have a learning curve at first, so if you're not sure whether it's something your writer would want to learn to use, you can turn them onto the free 30-day trial, which includes a comprehensive tutorial and is 30 days of actual use, not 30 calendar days. Flippin' fantastic.

Duotrope subscription
This is a great one for writers who are looking to have their stories, poems, and/or essays published traditionally. I wrote a blog post about this one, too. Duotrope can help your writer find places to submit their individual pieces, chapbooks, and/or full-length manuscripts. It costs a mere $5 a month or $50 a year. Free trial available.

Writing retreat
Probably the most helpful and generous thing you could give a writer is the time and space to create. This doesn't need to be fancy; you don't have to send them to a cabin in the woods or a beach cottage (although they might enjoy that, too). A writing retreat can be done at home for cheap or free.

The needs of your beloved writer will vary, but as a starting point I recommend you gift them a minimum of 3 days and up to 10 days of "retreat" time. What they need most is a distraction-free environment with no responsibilities beyond eating, sleeping, and writing. No social engagements or doctor's appointments. They are excused from work and household chores for the duration of the writing retreat. The pets/kids are out during the day or maybe away on a mini-break of their own. There are no expectations about when the writer will get up or go to bed. No judgment about how the writer spends their time (naps and staring off into space are commonly acknowledged to be important to the writer's creative process, though it may look like wasted time to an outsider). And you also provide food for the writer, which could look like stocking the fridge and cupboards with pre-cooked meals and snacks, bringing them take-out, and/or preparing meals when you expect they'll be hungry (though you'll understand if they're in the zone and don't eat it right away).

Mental health day
Writing takes time, but more than that it takes energy. Living the creative life can be downright exhausting. We need time to recharge. This gift works particularly well if you live with your writer. Here's the point: they get to relax for an entire day: sleep in as long as they want, take as many naps as they want, eat when they want, maybe get a massage or go for a sensory deprivation float. Even without the spa treatment, just one day can make a huge difference in your writer's energy level and overall sense of well-being. (I'd especially encourage you to encourage them to unplug - no phone, no computer, no Internet.)

What other ideas do you have? Please share in the comments!

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