Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers
Happy holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Baby, it’s cold outside, but let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Chestnuts roasting on an open fire and all that.
We don’t need to go out! We can stay inside, snuggled and warm, and order a whole mess of stuff online!
If you’re wracking your brain trying to figure out what to buy for your writing loved one, don’t despair. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: us writers are easy. Some caffeine in a writing-related mug, a few books about the craft, and a couple inspirational tokens to remind us everything is going to be okay, and we’re good to go!
With that, here are a few of my favorite things. I hope they provide some great gift ideas for that special writer in your life.
Do Not Disturb Sign
If you know a writer with children, odds are they’ve had their work interrupted time and again because Little Sally needs that toy right now and also her brother called her a poop and that’s rude and make him stop and Mommy, why are you rubbing your forehead like that?
Kids are the best, amiright?
With this handy little sign, writers can let their loved ones know they’re working and therefore should not be disturbed. Odds are, everyone in the family will ignore it (as my son does), but if nothing else, the sign will add a nice decorative touch to your Favorite Writer’s workplace.
When writing a short story or novel, it’s nice to use tools specifically created with authors in mind. Scrivener is just that—a word processing software with the ability to rearrange scenes, organize research, and upload reference photos, along with a ton of other tools. It is, in a word, uh-mazing. I can’t imagine trying to tackle a lengthy short story, let alone an entire novel, without it. It’s the perfect gift to help your Favorite Writer complete their future bestseller.
When someone has been staring at a screen for hours, agonizing over each and every word choice, it can become hard to pull back and see the forest for the trees. Authors can easily lose sight of a story’s overall style and tone, which is why it’s so critical to have access to online editing software, such as ProWritingAid or Grammarly Premium. A subscription to one of these services would enable your Favorite Writer to fix grammatical errors, word repetition, and sentence structure with ease.
Tracking submission deadlines is a colossal time suck. There are thousands of literary journals, magazines, anthologies, contests, awards, online publications, and agents accepting proposals, queries, and manuscripts, and trying to juggle them all on a basic spreadsheet can be an enormous headache. That’s where Duotrope comes in. According to the site, there are more than 7,000 “fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art publishers and agents” currently listed. A subscription allows users to research the marketplace, search available listings, and track submissions—a super handy tool when you’ve sent one story to 20 different outlets. So, give a gift subscription to the site and save your Favorite Writer some time.
Personally, I can’t write without a steaming hot cup of tea within reach. (Actually, I can’t really do much of anything without a cup of tea within reach.) My absolute favorite mug to drink from is the First Lines of Literature coffee mug by The Unemployed Philosphers Guild. Across its surface are the “greatest opening lines” of some of the most acclaimed novels in history, including 1984, Beloved, and Catch-22. But the company has a number of other great options to choose from, including mugs featuring the titles of frequently Banned Books, quotes and writings of Edgar Allan Poe, and some of the most famous Last Lines of literature.
Along with the mug, consider including some Novel Teas, a box of English Breakfast teabags featuring literary quotes from the world over.
Books, Books, Books
There is nothing writers love more than to read books by other writers about writing. It makes us feel as though we’re accomplishing something, when really we’re procrastinating. (Or maybe that’s just me.)
That said, here are a few of my favorite books on the craft, in no specific order:
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
On Writing by Stephen King
Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative by Chuck Wendig
Flash! Writing the Very Short Story by John Dufresne
You are a Writer (so start ACTING like one) by Jeff Goins
The Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination by Jason Rekulak
For those looking to publish in print magazines, a few really great tools are:
Writer’s Digest Writer’s Market, an annual listing of thousands of publishing opportunities, from literary journals and contests, to trade and consumer magazines, to agents and book publishers. An online database version is also available.
Magazines are Great, Too!
Magazine subscriptions are a great gift, especially for those who want to ingest all they can about the craft and business of writing.
My favorite is Writer’s Digest, which each month brings incredibly useful tips, tools, and inspiration right to my door. I underline and highlight just about every article and save back-issues to refer to as needed.
Another great one is The Writer, which has been in existence for more than 130 years. To get an idea of the types of articles published in The Writer, you can read a few of Stephen King’s 1980s tips in my piece, “A Thank You to Stephen King’s Assistant.”
Just because writers often work from home doesn’t mean they don’t want to look good. I love, love, love Out of Print, which features iconic book artwork on t-shirts, socks, and other fun goodies. (For any loved ones reading this, I’ve had my eye on this shirt from The Handmaid’s Tale for a while….)
So, there you have it—my top gift ideas for the holidays. I hope the list helps you find the perfect gift for your Favorite Writer. If you have additional suggestions, please drop them in the comments.