It’s a tricky situation: the clock is ticking down to Christmas (or the sixth night of Hanukkah, or Fesitvus, or whatever your holiday-based gift-giving deadline happens to be) and no matter how much brainstorming you do, you’re just not sure what to get for that writer in your life. You could spring for some new books, because I’ve yet to meet a writer who wasn’t a reader first. Let’s face it, though, your house is already overrun with books that haven’t yet been read,and you’re tired of having to move that stack with the copies of Little Women, Ender’s Game, and Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows just to get to a new roll of toilet paper.
New clothes always make a nice gift, right? Except your writer already has a frayed bathrobe, doesn’t routinely wear anything more than the offending robe (and, believe me, after years of daily wear, it’s pretty doggone offending) and maybe a dirty, 10 year-old, paper-thin concert tee-shirt.
You’ve tried to get them fancy coffee before, too, but the last you went that route, he or she snarled like a feral cat and said something about soul-cursed heathens.
It doesn’t help that whenever you ask for gift ideas, your writer mumbles something about space lobsters, time wolves, “asynchronous chronostats”, or some other string of words that mostly don’t seem to be based on any common language you speak. That assumes, of course, you can even get a response at all, as opposed to an empty stare, a panicked look from haunted eyes, or, worse, getting ignored completely.
Well, I’m here to help! With the 2014 Puddintopia Gift Buying Guide For Writers, we offer five foolproof ideas guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of any writer.
- Wardrobe Accessories – Every writer needs something to wear that most people wouldn’t think had any practical use. Does your writer complain that the sound of sunshine creeping across the bedroom floor is too distracting, let alone the houseful of other noise-producing humans? Sounds like they need some noise-cancelling earphones. Or, instead, are they type of person who’s always cold, and forever trying to warm perpetually frozen digits or ice-cube like toes? Fingerless gloves go a long way toward keeping hands toasty warm without hampering fingers that need to fly over a keyboard. And insulated fuzzy slippers (preferably bunnies, if you can find them, of course) will make them forget all about their near-hypothermic tootsies. So rather than ask for a gift idea, ask your writer what little, physical inconveniences can make writing a challenge for them.
- Consumable Vices – Everyone tortured creative type I’ve ever met has a special little crutch they depend on to help them get through a project. I use a handful of M&M’s as daily motivational tool. Some writers I’ve met swear by a glass of wine to lubricate the ol’ word-maker. Hunter S. Thompson used, well, lets not talk about what Hunter S. Thompson used. It’d probably be easier to list what he didn’t use. At any rate, find out what helps to fuel the fires of creativity in your writer and set a little of that under the tree for them.
- Scrivener, or other writing-support software – Personally, I swear by Scrivener, and can’t fathom drafting a novel with out it these day. Writers, though, can be special like snowflakes (and just as fragile) when it comes to blasting new material from the word cannon, so get a license of whatever they úse to help them along the way.
- Tablet or other mobile drafting/editing device – We live in the wondrous future, where personal computers come in the form of flat panels just like the ones (well, smaller) that Captain Kirk once used to sign orders while in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise. And although the early few generations of tablets were mostly good for reading books or watching cat videos on YouTube, the newest ones are capable of the full monte of drafting and editing tools your writer uses to turn a fuzzy, bourbon soaked idea into a manuscript. These things are infinitely more convenient to whip out and use productively during, say, a son or daughter’s two-hour basketball practice than that cumbersome, battery-eating old laptop of 2010. And with price tags ranging from Wow! to Well… to Whoa., there’s a budget, feature set, and tech configuration out there for anyone with a mind on getting today’s word count down during those unfortunate times when the writer in your life has to actually put on pants and leave the house.
- Understanding – Yes, living with your writer can be patience-trying at best and downright maddening at it’s most difficult. They’re often moody and distant, can be more absorbed in the make-believe world in their head than talking about the one you both live, and usually remember more details about their book characters than their own cousins. Writing can be a painful, frustrating endeavor for everyone involved, and there’s certainly no guarantee of ever having more to show for it than whatever words finally end up on paper. So this holiday season, why not give your writer a sympathetic look, a warm hug, or a whisper of support the next time he or she is banging their head against the breakfast table between their bowl of Lucky Charms and their plate of buttered toast?
- Lemons – What do you mean, why lemons? Lemons are adorable, round, and full of goodness. They’re fantastic stress relief squeeze balls, they can be made into a delicious beverage or delightful desserts, can keep your apples and avocado from turning that disgusting brown, and with all that vitamin C? Heeeelllllooo…no scurvy here, thank you. Oranges are okay, too, I guess. But lemons, man, you can’t go wrong with lemons.
And that’s it. If you can’t find something for the dedicated, partially tortured writer in your life from the list above, well, I did say “lemons” didn’t I?
Good luck, gift givers. And may whatever Krampus-filled holiday you observe be filled with smiles and joy and a mere minimum of grouchy word-slinging.