Gifts For Writers

Absolute Blank

By Stephanie Lenz (Baker)

My kindergartner has taken to writing his own books. He uses markers, pencils, crayons and inordinate amounts of typing paper to illustrate them. Most are about trains but he’s currently writing about Christmas and Batman, including the character of “Mystery Man.” No matter how many times I tell him that’s The Riddler, it’s his story and he’s doing it his way. I’m supposed to help him spell the words he wants, then get out of his way until it’s time to staple the pages together.

Santa will be bringing him some blank books and crayons so he’ll write more books.

Writers are pretty easy to please, unless they’re newly six years old. All we need is something to write on, something to write with, time, and creativity. If you have a writer in your life, your gift shopping has just gotten easier. Not only are these great gifts for the holiday season but they work year-round for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, “I finished/sold the story” celebrations: any occasion or none at all. What follows are gift suggestions to create writers and to encourage those who already write, even those who aren’t yet old enough to write without help but want to tell stories.

Games:

  • Rory’s Story Cubes: Rory’s Story Cubes is a pocket-sized creative story generator, providing hours of imaginative play for all ages. With Rory’s Story Cubes, anyone can become a great storyteller and there are no wrong answers. Simply roll the cubes and let the pictures spark your imagination. All ages; no reading necessary.
  • The Storymatic: The Storymatic is a writing prompt, a teaching tool, a parlor game, and a toy. Combine a few of the 500+ cards, and watch a story take shape before your eyes. No wires. No screens. No batteries… Just a box of pure imagination. Ages 12+
  • Family Dinner Box of Questions: Gather your family around the table and strengthen family bonds with questions that get, and keep, the conversation going. Eighty-two thought-provoking questions encourage family members to share thoughts, experiences and memories…icing on the cake! Ages 6+
  • You’ve Been Sentenced: Use a hand of 10 pentagon-shaped cards with multiple conjugations of funny words, famous names and familiar places to score the most points per round. Construct the longest, grammatically correct, and sensible sentence. Each card used in a sentence is worth 5 points but using some of the more difficult conjugations on the card can earn you bonus points. Any player can object to another player’s sentence, on either grammatical grounds, or the fact that the sentence just doesn’t make sense and all players vote as a “jury” on whether the sentence stands and the author gets to defend the sentence, no matter how ridiculous. Ages 8+
  • The Origin of Expressions: Guess the origin of common expressions or bluff your friends! 12+

Subscriptions (print or electronic):

  • Poets & Writers
  • Writer’s Digest
  • Literary journals: Especially good if your writer works in genre fiction like horror. These can be print or electronic, often both. Many are available via Amazon or at your independent bookstore. A small gift card with a note can buy a writer the journals she’s been longing to read. Grab up some of the literary journals and zines for sale and bundle them for a gift.

Experiences:

  • Lecture series: Usually one night or a series of single evenings. If you can’t purchase a ticket for your writer, offer child or pet care services so she can attend.
  • Book signings: Same as the lecture series, offer the writer the gift of “a night free” when an author is in town or tag along to show your support. If your writer isn’t familiar with the author, preface the signing by giving the gift of the author’s work.
  • Writer’s retreats and conferences: These are available worldwide for varying periods of time and at varying cost.
  • Beta reading: This is the gift every reader wants but might be too shy to ask for. Offer your eyes and opinion. You don’t have to know anything about writing, the topic at hand, or how to correct grammar. All you have to do is read. Encourage your writer to produce and let him know that when he’s ready for a reader, your inbox and hands are open. Stay positive, even when you would like to offer criticism and remember that your criticism is of the work, not your writer. For more information on how to give your feedback, we have articles and tips for you.

Books:

(in addition to fiction, memoir, or whatever the writer in your life likes to read or write; many are available in electronic as well as print editions)

Books for young writers:

(some are also suitable for adult beginning writers as well)

Tools:

  • The Writers Block or The Creative Block: 786 and 500 prompts, respectively, to get your creativity flowing. Comes in a convenient desktop cube.
  • Blank books, Moleskine books, locking diaries or electronically password-protected diaries. Encourage writers to put it all down. Carry a little notebook with you to jot down your ideas. These are great books to encourage young writers. Even children who can’t yet write sentences can draw illustrative stories on blank pages.
  • Digital voice recorder. For the writer who gets inspired while driving or in flashes during a busy workday. Also great to capture real world dialogue or Aunt Sylvia’s story about the time Uncle Roy fell through the attic ceiling or Grandma Georgina’s recipe for homemade turkey stuffing.
  • Word 2010. Many writer-friendly changes exist in the latest incarnation of word, including the ability to create .docx documents. OneNote is another excellent tool, especially for novelists.
  • Netbook or Tablet. For the writer who doesn’t want to sacrifice electronic devices for portability.
  • Pens or pencils. Look at party supply places for pencils you can personalize. You can also get personalized pens in bulk at places like Pens R Us. Or spend your money on a fountain pen. All writers want one, even if they already have one.
  • Staples or Office Depot gift cards. For paper, ink, organizational supplies, you name it. Staples and its ilk are beloved by writers. If your writer wants a desk (for a writing space or for the lap), these are also available at office supply stores as well as second-hand stores or fancy furniture stores.
  • Nook, Kindle, Kindle Fire or other e-readers. Allows your writer to keep an entire library of reference and inspiration in a single place. More advanced tablet-style readers get your writer online as well.
  • Gift cards for bookstores, art supply stores, etc. Almost all bookstores—big or small—offer gift cards or certificates. You can never go wrong with a gift card that will put a book in someone’s hand, writer or not.

Final Poll Results

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