Best Gifts for Writers lists abound these days, and I’ve read a bunch of them now.
It may well be that some writers want a literary tee-shirt. I do know that some writers have a writing tee, but I don’t know whether they take inspiration from one with a famous quote. Same goes for a mug with a writerly message. It could also be that games to boost creativity or produce story ideas would be welcome. Hard for me to say, but I could see how they might be fun. However, completely baffling to me is the gift of a block of wood on which are written the words: Writer’s Block.
My point is that gifts are like everything else in the world: what makes a good one is a matter of taste.
Here’s my list:
Best Gifts #5: Bookstore Gift Card
The banal of the banal, I know, but writers love to read.
Last year $1 billion in gift cards went unspent. So I would give a fellow writer a bookstore gift card only if I knew she was devoted to her kindle or nook and then I would give her an e-card, so she would use it automatically when she went online to buy a book.
Here’s a link to Nook’s gift card program.
If your writer friend is like me and reads plenty of books for .99 cents, then even a $10 e-card gives her good bang for your buck. It’s an impersonal gift, but so what?
Best Gifts #4: Registration Fees to a Writers’ Conference
Every state has writers’ conferences. In North Carolina, where I live, I note that the 2019 Writers’ Network Spring Conference will be held on April 27 in Greensboro. Registration opens on February 1.
If you’re a member of the NC Writers’ Network the registration fee is $135. For non-members it’s $165.
You would want to give your writer friend such a gift only if you were pretty sure he was already going to attend the event, because other money is going to be shelled out, at least for transportation and perhaps for a night at a hotel. It’s not much of a gift if the receiver is burdened with other costs.
But if you had all the right things in place, say, if you’re a frequent traveler and have hotel points you could further gift your friend, then ponying up for conference registration fees would be most thoughtful and appreciated.
On other Best Gift lists I notice that you could buy an online Masterclass with famous writers like Margaret Atwood or James Patterson. They may be wonderful and totally worth the money. However, we writers already spend enough time looking at our screens, so attending an event with other living breathing writers, even if they’re not super famous, would be more of a treat for many of us.
Best Gifts #3: Notebook
The writer’s notebook is the gift most derided on many lists and dismissed as b-o-o-o-ring.
Here is my current notebook:
Here is a page I’ve been working on:
All the dates are about my blog posts. The book titles on the lower right-hand page are about a blog I’m thinking of writing. As you see I work messy.
The key point to make here is that I bought this notebook in Kazakhstan, and I love it. If you went to your local stationery store and bought me a notebook, I’d think, “Okay, that’s pretty nice.” However, if you were traveling some place interesting and happened to see a cool notebook and then bought it for me, I’d be thrilled.
You don’t have to go to Central Asia to buy a writer a notebook. The place would only have to be interesting to you and exotic to the writer.
Speaking of notebooks, once upon a time I would have enjoyed a fancy pen, but I’ve learned my lesson. I would absolutely love it, and I would also surely lose it.
Best Gifts #2: A Special Book
Another banal of the banal ideas, but still for a writer, a book is a good thing. There are two ways to go here:
You offer him a book meaningful to you and tell him exactly why you think this book is right for him.
Or you buy him a book about writing. Writers do love to read about writing. You can hardly go wrong with Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way. It’s a classic and a lovely gift for a writer (or any artist). The Creative Kingdom Collection looks like this and can be found on her website:
This snazzy set goes for $126. You can certainly get the individual books at lower prices.
Best Gifts #1: Your Time
The absolute best gift you can give a writer is to read her work. If the book is already published, then tell her you’ve read the book but do not expect her to ask you, “How did you like it?” This question is a huge no-no, and no (sane) author will ask it. It’s up to you to initiate the conversation, volunteering to tell her all the things you liked. If you really didn’t like it much or had other reservations, still tell her the things you did like that you’d like to see more of.
If the story is in manuscript, then you can give honest feedback, if you know how to give honest feedback well.
Best Gifts: Bonus Suggestion
You may know a famous writer – there are New York Times bestsellers among us – and what can you get them? Nothing, in fact – that is, nothing tangible. But you can give them the gift of honor, say by donating money in their name to a cause supporting writers.
Novelist’s Inc has a scholarship fund to help struggling members pay their annual dues of $85.
PEN AMERICA provides emergency funds for writers, and you can donate there.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen