Gifts for Writers

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Writers and Writing

I just ran across a column called “12 Holiday Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use”. The premise is that writers often receive ‘writerly’ gifts like leather-bound journals, Cross pens, classic novels, and books about writing – things they will never use. The article gives 12 alternatives – few of which would be welcome by most of the writers I know. The 12 gifts listed are:

  1. A cheesy new bestseller (You’re likely to either buy a book the writer already owns, one he doesn’t want to own, or one he’s embarrassed to own.)
  2. Good lipstick (Not a good choice for most men and a lot of women. Even if the writer wears lipstick, good luck finding a suitable color).
  3. Foreign language learning software (Not the worst gift idea, but might not be especially useful to the writer and is likely to end up sitting, unopened, because the writer can’t make time to make use of it.)
  4. A bathrobe (He or she likely already owns at least one. It’s not like he needs a closet full of the things.)
  5. A manicure (Because, the author of the article wrote, “I’ve noticed that a lot of other writers have suspiciously short nails, too. Manicures help.” Writers have short nails because long nails make it hard as *^#* to type.)
  6. “Freedom” internet-blocking software (This is supposed to keep writers from procrastinating by surfing the web. Personally, it would hobble me as I often refer to the internet for research purposes while writing).
  7. Booze, coffee, and tea (Yes, please.)
  8. Yoga classes (Writers tend to get caught up in their work and forget things, like eating and going to bed. Most won’t remember when the classes are.)
  9. A pet (Are you kidding me?)
  10. Homemade freezable foods (Yummy.)
  11. A hand-written letter (A nice gesture, but only if you’re broke or you include cash in the envelope.)
  12. “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde (Supposedly as a counter to all the books pushing writers to be efficient and productive – as if efficient and productive are bad things.)

Seriously? Let’s try this again. Revised list of 12 gifts that writers will actually (probably) use:

  1. Gift cards to book shops (Writers read, but they generally prefer to choose their own fare.)
  2. Gift cards to their favorite coffee shop or writer hangout. (Duh.)
  3. A homemade gift certificate for a day of errands (A day of not having to ferry kids, buy groceries, wash dishes and laundry, or cook dinner gives a writer a lot of peace in which to work.)
  4. A spare laptop battery. (More writing time at that favorite hangout!)
  5. Gift cards/certificates for the local cinema or a favorite restaurant (Having those certificates lying around will motivate the writer to get out from behind the keyboard and out of the house.)
  6. Booze (Still a good idea, if the writer drinks it. If they aren’t into alcohol, you could go for a supply of whatever they do drink – Vitamin Water, Red Bull, sodas, etc. Or you could go for ‘different’ and order/purchase something like the limited edition holiday soda 12-pack or Dungeons and Dragons 12-pack from Jones Soda.)
  7. Homemade foods (Not the worst idea, either. Freezable or shelf-stable, or even a small amount of ‘eat it right now’ goodies. It’s always good to have snacks and drinks handy while writing.)
  8. Digital voice recorder (For those that like to dictate notes while they drive or somesuch.)
  9. Gift certificate for a massage or other spa services (Good for guys and girls alike and can work out the kinks that come from sitting hunched over a laptop or notebook.)
  10. E-Reader or tablet (If the writer doesn’t have one of these, he probably they should. They make it not only possible but easy to carry an entire library anywhere you go.)
  11. Accessories (No, not belts and earrings. Any accoutrements that the writer might need or need upgraded such as a case or clip-light for his ereader, noise-cancelling headphones to block out the sound of the kids/neighbors/cats fighting, printer paper and ink cartridges, a thumb drive for backing up work, etc.)
  12. Writer’s retreat (This doesn’t have to be a fancy week-long getaway to a bunglow in the Bahamas, though it could be. Just a weekend stay at a local motel or hotel can be enough to allow those creative juices to percolate.)
    • Honorable mention – Kitsch (Mugs, t-shirts, and other items with writing related quotes; famous author/literature inspired action figures; etc.).


  • Honorable mention 2 – Literati (Players must write a story in 90 seconds using five words. The challenge? You may not know the meaning of the words provided, but to score points you need to bluff your way through. First player to reach 300 points wins.)or Writes of Passage (From what I saw on the website, a group of players picks three cards – genre, setting, and character – with all players contributing to the writing of the story.)

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