November 22, 2011

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers

Cartoon snowman holding wrapped gift box

The end of this week marks the unofficial beginning to the holiday shopping season in the United States.  Thursday is our Thanksgiving holiday, and the day after is known as Black Friday, the day retailers finally sell enough to put their accounting books “in the black” for the year.

I’m not one of those who camps outside of a store Thursday night to hit the sales at 4 a.m.  In fact, I’m not a shopping-type person at all.  So I desperately need help knowing what gifts to buy for people.

With that in mind, I decided to put together this list of gift ideas for writers.  If you’re a writer, this might help you give suggestions to family or friends.  Or you can direct your family to this post for ideas.  Something on this list is bound to please every writer out there.

Stocking Stuffers

For Writers Who Outline

  • Note (index) cards
  • Notebooks (most writers prefer plain spiral or steno pads over fancy, leather-bound books—those are too pretty to use *smile*)
  • Ugly writing journal (so we’re not tempted to “save” it) (suggested by Daniel Swensen)
  • Corkboard
  • Pushpins
  • Whiteboard
  • Dry erase markers and eraser

Technology Helpers

  • Programs like Scrivener (Windows and Mac) for organizing and word processing
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking for voice recognition-driven writing (suggested by Kyla Rucci)
  • Latest version of favorite word processing program
  • Flash drive for backups
  • Typing program (learn to type faster!)
  • More memory for computer
  • Bigger hard drive for computer
  • Wireless/ergonomic keyboard or mouse
  • Mini voice recorder

Big Ticket Items

  • New computer/laptop
  • Bigger computer monitor
  • Printer
  • eReader (Kindle, Nook, etc.)
  • eTablet (iPad, Android tablet, etc.) (suggested by Angela Quarles)
  • Ergonomic desk chair
  • Website/blog hosting or design
  • Registration fee for writing conference or workshop
  • Membership fee for writing group (like RWA—which is open worldwide and for more than just romance writers)

Miscellaneous Suggestions

  • Gift cards for books (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.)
  • Gift cards for office supply stores
  • High-quality printer paper for queries/submissions (suggested by Christy Farmer)
  • Printer ink (suggested by Shain Brown)
  • Canisters of favorite coffee or hot chocolate (suggested by Angela Quarles)
  • Tea or other writing beverage (suggested by Daniel Swensen)
  • Fingerless gloves (suggested by Angela Quarles)
  • Totem for a muse (figurine, stuffed animal, etc.) (suggested by Lisa Hall-Wilson)
  • Subscription to music source (Pandora, Spotify, Grooveshark, etc.)
  • Premium level of online service (Dropbox for automatic backups, Amazon Prime for free shipping/lending library, etc.)
  • Entry fee for a writing contest
  • Lecture packets for Margie Lawson’s writing courses (suggested by Stina Lindenblatt—see her recommendations for which packets to get)
  • Massage gift certificates (suggested by Julie Glover)
  • Back or foot massager (suggested by Gene Lempp)
  • Comfort clothes (robe and fuzzy slippers *smile*) (suggested by Brooklyn Ann)
  • Writing time (anything from babysitting to a writers’ retreat)

What did I miss?  Do you have suggestions for other items to add to the list?  Which things would you most like to receive?  Is there anything on the list you wouldn’t want?  Are you shopping person or not?

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Comments — What do you think?

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Angela Quarles

For big ticket: an etablet if they don’t already have one 😀 That’s my next big purchase… For stocking stuffers, love the handerpants Angela found: I live in a house without central heat, so these could come in handy… Their favorite hot tea or hot chocolate or coffee to keep them well-supplied.

Shain Brown

Ink. How about ink? Those manuscripts drink it like water.

Daniel Swensen (@surlymuse)

Coffee, tea, or writing beverage of choice. It might seem only tangentially related, but to some people, it’s really not.

Also, I’m a fan of the moderately-priced hardback journal with a big ugly sticker across the front. There, it’s already ruined, now write in it!

One year, someone got me a red rubber ink stamp that read “COMPLETE AND UTTER BULLSHIT.” Maybe not for everybody, but I’ve put it to some very therapeutic use.

Also, randomizers like the Observation Deck, Oblique Strategies, Rory’s Story Cubes, etc.

Julie Glover

This isn’t exactly writing-related, but sort of: Massage gift certificates. If you write day in and day out hunched over a computer or laptop, now and then a back massage is a glorious thing. My shoulders and upper back would repeatedly thank the gift-giver. Great ideas, Jami!

Jamie McCoard

How about a good old fashion voice recording device. I’m guessing most people use there cell phones, but I’m not sure how much storing an audio file will take away from it’s memory for photos & videos. Plus it’s not that easy to just hit “record” and start talking. You have to actually look at your phone to find the app and find the start record button. I don’t have one, but I can imagine that I would constantly use it in my car for my 45×2 minute commute to work.

Christy Farmer

High quality printing paper for writers in the query process/ or who are required to send in printed chapters to an agent/editor/publisher. Happy Thanksgiving Jami 🙂

Kerry Meacham

Love, love, love Scrivener. I’m using the free trial version during NaNoWriMo, and when I finish I get a discount certificate to purchase. It really helped me when I was plotting. The other great thing I’ve found while writing is that if an idea comes to mind while you’re writing, you can just click in the notes section and put a reminder there for later. Also love the fact that the type stays in the middle of the page.

Great list, Jami. Have a great Thanksgiving. ~clink~

Stacy Green

Excellent post! I’m always in need of new notebooks and pens (partially because my child steals them). And I cannot sing Scrivener’s praises enough. LOVE IT, and it’s easy to use, even for techo-dummies like me.

Have a great holiday!

Elena Aitken

GREAT list! love it.

Brooklyn Ann

LOL, I’m going to be doing a post on this in a week or so. I also recommend a fuzzy robe and slippers…a writer always needs more work clothes. Ooooh and wine.

Stephen T. Harper
Stephen T. Harper

I like the Aquanotes idea. And a cork board would be nice too.

Scrivener, as Kerry mentioned, is awesome.

The best part about it, for anybody who is self-publishing is that formatting for e-pub, Kindle, and print is incredibly simple. Only a few months ago that was a nightmare for the techno-un-savvy. Scrivener looks amazing in all formats and it does all the hard stuff (like html coding for ToC and customizing fonts for chapter headings). Just yesterday I was looking at two best-selling books, one by a big six publisher and one by an independent author, both of which could be vastly improved with this program. No excuse for shoddy ebooks.

Michele Shaw

I’ll take a 3-book deal, thank you. What? I’ve been VERY good this year! ;p

Lisa Hall-Wilson

This is a great list. You forgot a muse – this is a little personal – but maybe for a spouse or something. My husband bought me a Lara Croft figurine. She stands on her own – wearing combat boots, bare midriff and thigh holsters – the whole deal. But, the best part is when I sit on the desk shelf behind my laptop – she points both guns at my head. I write better under pressure 🙂 lol

Lisa Hall-Wilson

*I mean – when Lara Croft sits on the shelf behind my laptop* – I know, now there’s a mental picture. Sorry 🙁 lol

Raelyn Barclay

Ha! I’m printing this out for That Man! I live in Vegas, I really don’t need another pair of socks, LOL

We always add a ream of paper for the wee beasties and their art/writing to Christmas lists for extended family. I think I’m adding that to mine too 🙂

Great post Jami!

Gene Lempp

Love this list, I’ll take it all. Yep. Mail to…*grins*

A foot or back massager is also a good addition for a writer. Can’t use them all the time but they are great rewards to give oneself for all the time we spend sitting.

I think I’m going to have to check out Scrivner. I’m using WriteWay now, which is fine, but I’m seeing so many people talk about their love for this program (including the person that got me into WriteWay originally). Putting that one top of my list.

Oh, books of any kind are great gifts for writers.

Fun post, Jami 🙂

Sara Grambusch
Sara Grambusch

Wow this is everything we could possibly ever need. I’ll just forward this to everyone I know 🙂 If I had aquanotes I would never get out of the shower. I just need a waterproof laptop in there. Fun post!

Nancy S. Thompson

How about books on craft like “Writing the Breakout Novel” or “The Fire in Fiction” both by Donald Maass or “Plot and Structure” by James Scott Bell

Donna Cummings

What a great post! I’d just done a similar one recently, but it didn’t have all of these wonderful suggestions. I’ve been pondering Scrivener, and now think maybe I need to let Santa know I *need* it. LOL Thanks for an awesome list!


Chocolate….the Life Pause button you suggested….a 3 day writing holiday without the kids… Something that plugs directly into my brain and downloads the story I want to write…not the mess that actually flows through my fingers onto the keyboard….

Wendy Barron
Wendy Barron

Anything from The Literary Gift Company!

Susan @ 2KoP

Love the G2 pens and working hard at NaNoWriMo so I can get Scrivener at half price. Great list.


[…] The Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers by Jami Gold. Pens with free chocolate? […]

Traci Kenworth

Great gift ideas!! Had to fb it.

Stina Lindenblatt

Great list, Jami. Any idea what to get my non writer husband? He’s not into normal guy things. 🙁

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