I’ve done a gift list here and there in years past and it’s had the requisite nice pen/journal/#1 writer mug suggestions which come on, is so 2006. This year I’ve tried to come up with some items that are maybe less obvious but still helpful. Writers need to focus, after all, or they don’t write enough and then they get grumpy. So think of this list as grump-avoidance.
1. Noise-canceling head phones: You’ve got your nice cup of caffeine at your side, your trusty, beaten-up laptop, and two reference books next to you, and you plug in your white earbuds, only to realize that your physiology of your right outer ear is incompatible with Apple’s design, and holy hell those college kids three tables over sure are LOUD. Writing is not happening in this scenario. Make writing happen. These headphones from Creative are much more affordable than most at $60 (Bose is more like $300), and they’re well rated. Cut out the noise, and the fiddling with plastic.
2. Shower-proof note pad: I know I already dissed blank journals, but this is different I swear. The writer in your life already has an ordinary journal (and I have at least a dozen and I love them all). This notepad comes with water-impervious paper and a special pen and it’s like, $7. Think of the possibilities! Backstory development for a new romance while basking in a sea of lavender bubbles. Notes to loved ones that will survive the Pacific in a bottle should you get stranded on a desert island. Capturing ideas while camping in the rain. It’s a must-buy. As seen on TV.
3. Small artist’s shelves: I keep colored pens (which I use in storyboarding), paper with story ideas, mementos that inspire me, and other junk in a beat-up IKEA mobile shelving unit. It’s next to my desk, and I jimmy the drawers open all the time when I need THINGS. Things, people. We writers need them. Let us work the way we need to work, okay? The IKEA drawer is $129; there are lots of similar items around for less. Froogle is your friend, folks.
4. Non-leather laptop case: My case for my computer is gray felt with a lovely elastic band that keeps it shut, and two pockets for things like the aforementioned ear phones and waterproof note pad. It was $25 from Etsy. In fact, there are lots of cases on Etsy. Thirty thousand of them. Want one that’s shock-absorbent? Yeah, they have that. One that will survive the floods after the polar ice caps melt? They have that, too.
5. A quality book on writing: I know lots of folks recommend Stephen King’s On Writing. But there are other books of writing advice out there that are, in my opinion, even better. Here are three—Samuel Delany’s About Writing (it’s all about the preposition, I suppose), Writing Past Dark by Bonnie Friedman, and Delany’s recommendation of Cyril Connolly’s Enemies of Promise. There are more, of course, but I’ve found these particularly useful.
Now then, writers are, despite their protestations, still humans, so they should also like the occasional bottle of whiskey, flat screen televisions, and luxury automobiles. But I’m betting most writers would be tickled to receive one of the above items, too. Or maybe a hug. Everyone needs a hug.