With less than ten days left until Christmas, tis the season for my personal holiday tradition: total gift-giving panic. The only Christmas presents I’ve amassed so far are a pair of cooking utensils for a relative I haven’t spoken to three years. What I did buy is an art print of Barad-dûr, for myself, because I’m a garbage human being.
But you don’t have to suffer my shame! And if you’re reading this now, I can only assume that you’re on the prowl for a great last-minute gift for a writer in your life. Or maybe you are the writer in your life, and you’re shopping for yourself. No judgement, man. With the Eye of Sauron glaring down at me in reproach, I’m right there with you.
So, you need a gift for a sentence-wrangler, stat. I know what you’re thinking. A new notebook is the perfect gift for any writer, right? All those blank pages just waiting to be filled—it’s practically like giving them the ability to write more! Notebooks are the go-to gift for any wordsmith. You’re buying five of them.
Oh, dear sweet gracious Christmas elf. Please don’t.
If I had a nickel for every beautifully-bound blank page in my house, I could quit my day job and spend the rest of my life filling them. And the worst part is? I love it. I’m 100% a notebook hoarder. I adore all the different covers, the nice leather and creamy paper, their vast sense of potential. But let’s be real; most of the time the beautiful artistic notebooks that my friends and relatives give me end up stacking up on the side of my desk while I type everything into my computer—and then inevitably go out and buy myself a new notebook that better fits my needs.
So as much as I, and the writers in your life, might like a notebook, maybe the time has come to give a different and more helpful writing-related gift this year. Please. Help me kick my addiction to stockpiling blank paper.
Subscription to Duotrope
Buying a subscription to a website might seem like an underwhelming gift, but for writers of short fiction or poetry Duotrope is a lifesaver. Members get access to all sorts of juicy, detailed information about various magazines and publishers, from response times to acceptance statistics. It helps you keep track of all your submissions, and know where you can send them next. So really, you’re buying them relief from all the headaches that submitting to magazines can entail.
If your writer prefers novels to short fiction, Scrivener is a great tool. For those planning on self-publishing, or who simply could use a hand with formatting, Scrivener comes with tools to help get your manuscript ready for publication, and to compartmentalize chapters and sections for easy finding and rearranging. No more endless scrolling through a word document to reach the section you need, or awkward cutting and pasting to move a section around. Hallelujah.
They say you should write what you know, so it’s behooves any writer to know as much as possible. A good nonfiction book can be a great source of inspiration in any genre. If you know they like fantasy, try getting them a book on an interesting historical period (great for worldbuilding!). If they tend to write romance, an illustrated book of cities could give them the setting of their next fictional triste. Picking a nonfiction book in a relevant topic is so much more thoughtful than simply grabbing the first “How To Write” book off the shelf at Barnes & Noble.
Tea or Coffee
Skip the mug and go straight for the good stuff that goes inside. All the writers I know are hot-drink junkies; there’s nothing better to have beside their writing station than a piping hot cup of leaf or bean water, to sip pensively as they mull over an entry on thesaurus.com.
Let’s be honest—having relatives over for the holidays is great, until it’s not. Sometimes in the hubbub of family traditions, finding a private sanctum to get some much-needed writing done is hard to come by. A nice pair of headphones is a pricier gift, but one that will give your writer a chance to work wherever they are.
Or you could chase noisy relatives out of the house with a broom, but I hear that doesn’t go over well when it’s time to sit down to Christmas dinner.
Who spends more time slumped in an uncomfortable chair than your local hard-working writer? Not only will you be saving them back pain by getting a nice ergonomic cushion for the sake of their tired buttocks, but you might also be saving their health. Sitting down all day is bad for you, yo! I should know, I haven’t hoisted myself out of this hard wooden chair in 6 hours! I can’t feel my legs!
What’s the use of getting them all this writing-related stuff if they aren’t going to actually do it? Steal a treasured item, pet, or child from your favorite writer’s house and promise to give it back only when they’ve sent you proof that they met their writing quota for the day. Christmas day is no excuse to slack off!
I’m kidding, of course. (Save that crime-spree for New Year’s. You know they’re making a resolution to write more.)
A Nice Pen
Because you know someone’s going to get them a notebook anyways.
What do you think, writers? Do you like getting the Traditional Notebook Gift™ for Christmas?