Great Christmas gifts for the writers in your life. #MondayBlogs #Authors
Like most anyone else, writers, creators, and other artistically minded folks have a wishlist of things they would love for Christmas. Things that would help them build their careers and brand. Things that would or might help improve their lives as writers and creators and ease along the artist process that is the creation of a novel and ultimately it’s publishing. Sometimes these can be somewhat simple wishes. Often though they are slightly more complicated because the life a writer and novelist are hectic and complicated when you mix in everything we are required to do for our careers. For some writers who are working on a tight or $0.00 budget, these are things we just dream of having or having access to but money and real-life bills get in the way. They are the things we sigh and say, “well, maybe someday.”
The other day I messaging with another author friend of mine. He told me that his wife had asked him what writing-related things he wanted for Christmas and that he had looked at her with a “Deer in the headlights” look. But it’s totally true and I would have the same look if asked directly and I’d fumble for anything remotely close and then stammer out something really dumb like, “a coffee mug”. It’s dumb because that’s the last thing a writer wants (because we usually already have a go-to one). It’s not because I couldn’t think of anything else but rarely does anyone ask about our secret author wishlists so we’re are not ready for that kind of real-world game show type of pressure. In all honesty, if you were to say, “Here is a brand new $1,000.00 flat screen TV,” (as much as I’d like one) my literal first thought would be, “Holy S%&T! I could have gotten so much marketing and advertising done with $1,000 bucks!” But that is how a modern, up and coming and nearly-millennial-author thinks. We’re practical. We have to be. We try and do as much as we can with the little we have to work with.
So here is a list that I (with some suggestions) came up with that might inspire and help your favorite writer in your life whether they are your husband, wife, son, daughter, sister, brother or friend etc. I’ll separate into themes so its easier.
A messenger bag – You never know where and when the urge to write or the sudden idea will come up. Most writers I know bring a laptop or tablet with them anywhere they go but some just use an old-fashioned pad of paper and pen. A nice messenger bag will help them carry around their toolkit as well as be prepared and organized. I got my old, now beat up and broken one from ebags.com a few years back for college and literally bring it everywhere…just in case. Ebags also offer gifts cards. Load it up with nice gel pens, highlighters, sticky notes etc for an awesome gift bag of a bag!
Notebooks – Some of us still use those old-fashioned things, I don’t too much but usually keep one on me for emergencies or quick ideas. Add nice gel pens to it for a complete package.
I still prefer these
Printer Ink – Let’s be honest, writers print out a lot of S%&T and we go through ink almost as fast as Trump goes through nonsensical Twitter tirades. From printing receipts and orders to drafts for editing by hand we need it. For a double whammy included a ream of printer paper.
Headphones – I mean kinda nice ones, not something from the dollar store or bottom of the barrel Walmart hooks but not Beats by Dre either. Music helps the writing muses and most writers (myself included) use it to drown out background noise while we are pouring our souls onto the paper or screen. Or we might be listening to a book on Audible (which is another great gift idea). Some writers have issues writing in places like coffee shops that get loud and this help a lot. **AUTHOR/WRITER SECRET** Sometimes we’re not listening to anything at all. Sometimes we just put them in so people won’t talk to us while we are writing OR so we can listen in on peoples conversations without being obvious.
Gift Cards for coffee, just or coffee – “What is this crap, Mike?” might be going through your mind right now; hear me out though. Most writers draw inspiration for our characters (especially their quirks) and ideas for our stories from real life, real situations, and real people. You can only get so much “real” life on facebook, twitter and from watching youtube. Sometimes you need that thing called HUMAN INTERACTION. This idea scares me and many writers but I know its necessary sometimes. Getting out alone for a few hours to sit with friends or even eavesdrop on total strangers helps us professionally and also helps us get out of our house pants in whatever form they might be. Think Starbucks, Bigby or something super local and mom and pop shop and support those local businesses while you’re at it.
Technology, of some level, plays a vital role in most any writers life. Here are some tech gifts that will help out any writers you know, love and support. These are often things many writers don’t have the extra money for.
MS Office 365 subscription – Nothing is more horrible for a writer in the age of subscription programs when our yearly subscription runs out. When it does you cant even open a file for a book you’re writing and work like normal. MS Word is literally dead in the water and with it writing, productivity and loss of time and hopes and dreams. I know this from current experience since mine ran out over a month ago. I’m actually writing this on the free Open Office Program which isn’t bad but it isn’t Word or the Microsoft Office environment that I need and am used to. Yearly subscriptions run $69 bucks (+ taxes) on Microsoft.com for the whole Office 365 product line for 1 computer. There also is a monthly option of $6.99. You can also buy it on Amazon.com
Grammarly – Grammerly.com is a subscription-based proofreading and editing program which I reviewed three years on my blog Journeys and Life. They have made some great improvements since then. It’s a really great product which can be used within MS Word and in web browsers on PCs and Macs. The base version (which I use) is free but doesn’t offer all the features that would make a writer scream in joy. They offer several plans but the yearly plan on the premium is the best value for the money and will set your favorite writer up for a year. With any luck, it will save them money and time on editing services. It’s also a great product for students of nearly every level. They run sales and specials often and recently dropped their prices for the yearly premium version.
Wireless Mouse – Straight up, using the lame fingerpad on a laptop is great for being on facebook but its a giant pain in the ass when you are trying to write and edit a book or a blog post. While a cheaper one works fine, something nice and a bit bigger is nice. Especially for those of us with big hands. If you’re not sure what to get Best Buy Gift cards will do.
Backup battery power – I didn’t realize how important this was until recently. A backup power supply is a pretty essential piece of tech. From our phones and tablets dying to our laptops fading away while on a writing binge because we forgot our power cords at home these handy battery packs can literally save our writing and our productivity. Look for a good one that can charge laptops and not just tablets and phones; something like THIS.
Scrivner – I actually hate this program but MANY authors swear by it. Scrivner is a writing program that gives authors many tools not just for writing but also for heavy organization, planning, and plotting. It’s specifically made for people writing long works like novels, novellas and research papers. It’s available for $40 bucks on Amazon.com for Windows ($45 for Mac) and while you are at it maybe get them the book Scriver For Dummies because they will need it.
Advertising/Marketing – ANY writer who is honest will tell you this is the biggest bain of our existence. It’s hard enough balancing a day job, family(if there is one) and writing while trying to find time to market and advertise ourselves and our books. There are MANY people who offer services like this, it’s their job to take some of the work off our shoulders so we can actually be writers and not schleppers. These people have an army of bloggers and reviewers at your disposal. Check out this list
Other odds and ends
Who do you know? Writing and publishing is a business (No, it’s not a hobby) and part of it is about knowing people and having connections. Do you personally know an agent, publisher, blogger or other more experienced authors who could or would be willing to help your favorite new writer along and get ahead in their career? Share that connection! You might just be your writing friends hero!
Gift Cards – Always a good idea, especially if you want to help your favorite writing friend but don’t know where or how to go about it. Any writer has a list of things they could spend some extra money on that they normally cant because they don’t have it. It could be anything from copies of their book to sell, writer swag like printables for book shows, signings, and giveaways or, yes, marketing and advertising. Other ideas are coffee gift cards, amazon.com gift cards….you get the idea.
Dog for a day – Do you have a dog? It’s science fact that being around dogs, petting dogs, and walking dogs is not only beneficial for your mental health but also your physical health. Writers spend a lot of time when we are not at our day jobs just sitting stressed out; sometimes for hours on end. Some writers love dogs but don’t have one so borrowing out Spot for an hour or two for some time at the park with your writer friend will not only help them with their health but also helps their burgeoning writing career. (Stephen King got many of his ideas for his novels by going for a walk and who better to walk with than a dog)
Time – I’ve asked several of my fellow author friends what they would ask for and TIME (as in the infinite kind and not the magazine kind) is the most requested thing they could ask for at Christmas. Like 90% of them said this. Many writers (myself included) are trying to create magic and build our careers while balancing things like a job/s, kids, and family life. Do you have some time on your hands and like kids? Offer to babysit for 2 or 3 hours so your favorite writer can actually go and write (somewhere that’s not home) without having to figure out how to do it in between cleaning, diapers, picking up toys, cooking, naptimes and everything else and not paying for daycare. You have no idea what kind of magic you will be doing.
Buy It! – You would be amazed at the kind of emotional traction an author gets from selling books. It not only helps them monetarily but mentally. Nothing makes us randy for writing more than when we realize people are actually buying our books (and like them) and not waiting for them to be free during some promotion. Buy a print copy, ask the author to sign it when you see them or when they are at a reading or local author event. You literally will be able to watch our eyes dilate and heart rates increase at how excited we become and how grateful we are. Books make great Christmas gifts so even if you’re not into the genre a writer you know writes in someone you know might be. By buying one book you could start a tidal wave of new support, interest, and readership with people your favorite authors hasn’t been able to reach. YOU WILL BE A HERO!
A Nice Dinner – For those writers who are cash-strapped or who might have young kids than eating out is a supreme luxury especially with our significant other. Nice is a general term but anything other than fast food, mac & cheese or PB&J sandwiches over the sink at 2 am is, in fact, nice.
Snacks (healthy ones) – I tend to pick eat in general and snack while I write and it’s not always healthy. Many authors probably do the same so maybe a nice gift basket of healthy snacks geared toward a specific author.
Books – Not just any book but books by our favorite authors which you can find by looking at our Goodreads or Facebook Page (you have to dig a little into the About me on FB). An even better idea is books that will help us become better authors and business people. Here is a pretty great list of books and some of these I used in college.
Patreon – What is Patreon? Basically, it’s a monthly subscription service so people can help support writers, artists, and other creators in a consistent monetary way so they can focus on doing what they love and putting out a great product. In return, you get access to the artist, unique content that no one else will and the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference in the life of someone with a dream, an idea, and drive. I don’t have this yet myself but I’m thinking about it. Check out THIS VIDEO and get a better idea of what am talking about. This isn’t a new idea and most of the writers, inventors, and painters you have heard of got support in their careers from patrons (think Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Picasso, and others). This is great for people who want to help certain authors but don’t necessarily read much, buy their books or like their particular genre of writing but support what they do. Many of the things mentioned on this list could, in fact, be purchased with patron funding.
**I’m sure I missed 1 or 2 or 50,000 things, so, if you’re an author or writer what other suggestions do you have for next years list?**