I’m one of those people who gets annoyed when I walk into a store and see Christmas decorations on display before we even get through Halloween. But Halloween is over now, and although we haven’t hit Thanksgiving yet many of us have started our holiday shopping.
I love giving gifts. I don’t have a lot of financial resources to work with, so I try to get creative. I think about what makes each loved one tick – what he enjoys doing or the little things that bring a smile to her face. I want the gifts I give to say ‘I really know you,’ not ‘I grabbed this off the shelf since it was kinda cute.’
Many of us are the same way. Just to keep us on our toes, we all also seem to have that one person on our “gift list” who has everything. For me, it is my Dad. I struggle each year to come up with something I know he’d like that he doesn’t already have. To make matters worse, his birthday is the week before Christmas, so I have to come up with several things at once.
I can’t necessarily help you figure out the perfect present for the Mr-or-Ms-Has-Everything in your life. But what I can do is throw out a few suggestions for those of you who want to give a special and memorable gift to the writer in your life.
These ideas range from things that will cost you nothing but time to “I just hit Lotto and wanna blow some big money on my friends” budgets. Whether your writer is just getting started or well on their way, these are gift ideas that will warm their scribbler’s heart.
1. Amazon or Bookstore Gift Certificates
Most writers are also readers. That’s just the nature of the beast. Some holiday shoppers shy away from gift certificates because they feel “impersonal.” But trust me, the writer in your life will appreciate this one. He might not have that new release by his favorite author today. But that doesn’t mean he won’t break down and swing by the bookstore or upload it to his Kindle tonight, even if he just told you he’s down to his last 20 bucks til payday. A gift certificate eliminates the guesswork about what he already has on his bookshelf, Nook or Kindle.
While Amazon may be the way to go if your writer has a Kindle, it surely isn’t the only option. Consider supporting a local bookstore and giving your writer friend a reason to stroll through the shelves the old-fashioned way.
2. Journaling Supplies
If the writer in your life doesn’t always have a notebook on hand, they should. Sure, the various electronic devices we carry for jotting down notes are handy. But we shouldn’t let expressing our ideas with pen and paper become a lost art.
Find a journal or notebook with a cover image that will inspire or soothe your writer’s soul. Does your writer love the mountains and the woods or prefer the beach or unique buildings? Does he adore a particular sports team or musical group? Find a journal that embodies that theme or item.
Another option is a comfortable-to-hold, personalized pen. Writing with a pen that rests comfortably in her hand and from which the words flow smoothly is a joyful experience for a writer.
This holiday season, many of us are struggling to make ends meet. We get frustrated when we think we can’t afford to give our loved ones that “special something.”
For your writer friend or family member, you’ve got something to give that won’t cost you a dime – extra time to write. Consider giving an “IOU” for:
– Babysitting services while she steals away to write.
– An offer to do some household chores or yardwork. The stay-at-home mom who writes between carpools and cleaning will love a day of putting down the vacuum and picking up her plotline. The day-jobbing writer would love to come home this spring to find that he can spend his evening writing instead of mowing the lawn.
– Help with some writing-related tasks. If you’re good at fact-finding and research, offer to do some legwork. Writers often need to dig up historical facts or gain more knowledge of a profession, the legal system, an illness, or even myths and lore. If you are someone who is well-connected on sites like Facebook and Twitter, offer to do some promotion for your friend. If you have your own blog, consider offering up a guest post or doing an interview.
4. Subscriptions or Association Membership Fees
The resourceful but financially strapped writer can find many free or inexpensive ways to network, learn the craft and share information with other writers. But that doesn’t mean access to other resources won’t be greatly appreciated. A few options are:
– A subscription to Writer’s Digest
– A subscription to Writer’s Market
– Annual membership dues to a local or national writer’s association. Some national examples include the National Writer’s Association and the Horror Writers Association. A google search for local writer’s associations in your area will offer up options closer to home.
5. Writing Courses
Whether the writer in your life is a seasoned professional or someone who is just beginning to explore their passion for words, there is a course out there that can help them improve at their craft and network with other writers. Costs for writing courses range from high-dollar to free, and it is probably best to let the writer do some exploration and choose a course rather than paying for something that may not meet their needs.
I had planned to poke around and come up with some links to share with you, but was thrilled to find that my friend Catie Rhodes has already done just that! Check out Catie’s very comprehensive list of options and share them with the writer in your life.
6. Writing and Publishing-Related Services
In case you’re a big spender, I’ll also throw out some of the “big ticket” items most writers could use some help in funding. These, along with the writing courses mentioned above, are also more affordable if you pull together with family members or friends to give the perfect “group gift” to the writer in your lives.
With these types of gifts, unless you’ve talked enough with your writer about where he or she is in the process, you’ll probably have to have some conversations that ruin the element of surprise. But what a writer can get out of these opportunities make that well worthwhile.
– Help to pay registration fees for a writer’s conference or cover travel costs.
– Help cover costs to visit a writer’s retreat.
– Give a “gift certificate” promising to assist with financing a service such as professional proofreading/editing, a literary agent, an illustrator or cover designer, or marketing support when the time comes. Every writer approaches publishing differently, and the needs of someone who plans to self-publish electronically aren’t the same as those of an author who is exploring traditional publishing. But one thing all writers have in common when they get to this stage of the game is that help is greatly appreciated . Not only is it often very needed, but knowing that you believe in their work enough to help them get it “out there” will inspire and encourage a writer.
As a writer, I’d consider any of these gifts proof that Santa is alive and well and that I’ve been a good girl this year. I think many writers would feel the same way. I can’t help you figure out what this year’s trendy toy is, or pick the best present for the fashionista in your circle, or help you find that gift for your boss that’ll get you a raise without making you look like a suck-up. But if you’ve got a writer on your gift list, I hope these suggestions have made your holiday shopping a bit easier!