Chanukah is coming up. The Solstice is near. It’s time for some Yule cheer. Christmas songs are madly playing. While Kwanza and Boxing Day fill the role of holiday game closer.
You’re making your list and checking it twice, right?
I bet dollars to virtual donuts that you have at least one writer on your gift-giving list.
Here are some things that are probably on their wish list. If not, I bet you still won’t go wrong by getting any of these items.
Notebooks. No writer should be without notebooks. But these are my favorite (next to the ol’ composition books from my high-school days). Moleskine. Every shape, size, color. I keep one next to the bed, in my laptop case, in my purse, on my desks. Each one of my novels has an extra-large, ruled book to go with it. My old-school meta documents on character, plot mapping, summaries, changes, any note that I need as the writer to keep the story straight
Good pens. Each writer has a different favorite. I have several in my writing group that love real ink pens. You know the kind you have tips and ink and can do real calligraphy with? Me? I just like something that doesn’t make my hand hurt when I’m doing a marathon session of freewriting in my Moleskine journal. My favorite is Cross on the spendy side, like the Edge Collection model. Or on the cheap and fill my stocking variety, Pilot G2’s can’t be beat. A set in every color is great for editing. Want to really blow the socks off your writer spouse, lover or friend? Spring for this puppy: Cross’ Apogee Frosty Steel Rollerball Pen. Don’t forget the ink refills.
Books about writing. Most writers are going to own books like Stephen King’s ON WRITING, or Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY. If they don’t, I highly recommend you get them either of those, or BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott, or THE WRITING LIFE By Carolyn See, or ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING: RELEASING THE CRETIVE GENIUS WITHIN YOU by Ray Bradbury. Beyond that, they will need more “technical” advice. For that, here’s my top five picks:
- REVISION AND SELF-EDITING by James Scott Bell
- STORY: SUBSTANCE, STRUCTURE, STYLE AND THE PRINCIPLES OF SCREENWRITING by Robert Mckee
- OFF THE PAGE: WRITERS TALK ABOUT BEGINNINGS, ENDINGS, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Marie Arana
- BOOKLIFE: STRATEGIES AND SURVIVAL TIPS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY WRITER By Jeff VanderMeer
- THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by William Strunk, E. B. White and Roger Angell
Books not about writing. Outside of my monthly fiction reads, I always am exploring some non-fiction information. It feeds our stories, helps us create characters, scenarios, etc. So it’s important as reading fiction. Recently I’ve been reading lots of books on spirituality, sustainable agriculture, Autism (my son is ASD), and tattoos. You will have to know what interests your writer, but here’s my top five picks for non-fiction reads right now:
- WAR PAINT: TATTOO CULTURE & THE ARMED FORCES by Kyle Cassidy.
- Preparing for Life: The Complete Guide for Transitioning to Adulthood for Those with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome by Jed Baker.
- The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year by Spring Warren
- The Mystic Cookbook: The Secret Alchemy of Food by Denise & Meadow Linn.
- Shamanism and Spiritualityin Therapeutic Practice: An Introduction by Christa Mackinno
Fuel. Each writer has different things that fuel them. Mine tends to come in the way of caffeine, whiskey, exceptional food, and chocolate. You know every writer has a favorite coffee shop or pub. Why not give them a gift card to that place. Let them experience a new venue or restaurant – take them out. Let them people watch. One of the favorite things I love to do is go out to a bar or grill and sit and make up stories with my dining partner about the strangers that surround us. Everyone has their favorite chocolatier. Take a peek on the writer’s desk to see what wrappers are there, or even better, give them something they could not normally get themselves on their literary pauper salary. Try to match the chocolate to the type of writing they do: dark with dark, spicy with spicy, light and fluffy with light and fluffy. You get the drift
Time. A writer needs time to write. So, give them time. Walk their pet one day a week so they can eek out an extra hour of writing. Watch their kids when they are on deadline. Mow their lawn. Whatever you think will give them more time.
Inspiration. Many writers are inspired by beautiful things. Whether it’s a piece of art, handcrafted jewelry, hand-knitted fingerless gloves, a trip to the theatre or movies, specially sculpted book ends, or a trip to somewhere new and beautiful (an unexplored beach, hiking path, mountain top). Give them something beautiful – big or small. Then watch the words flow.
What do you think is the best gift to give a writer? I’m so interested in how creative people get with artists in their lives. Tell me. Don’t be shy. (Can you tell I’m also looking for more ideas?)