Weighing in on which holiday I hate more: Christmas or Valentines, I’m hard pressed to say its not a draw. If I could schedule a one-on-one with Santa like I do with my bosses, I’d probably demand that he conjure a few elves to finish plotting my manuscript for me, do my laundry, assemble the nitty gritties of my latest portfolio endeavour so I don’t have to do it myself, and vacuum and wash the floors weekly because its the one chore I absolutely hate. So basically, all I want for Christmas is my very own House Elf.
Winter is here and gift-giving season is coming. This knowledge benefits you how, you ask? Simple. For one, this is your first warning that there are thirteen shopping days left until you’re screwed should you choose to participate in this commercially-driven endeavour to appease your loved ones, and two: if you’ve got a writer in your life (or you’re a writer yourself and the thought of buying yourself five bucks worth of printing paper and red pens isn’t all that exciting) then this post is dedicated to you with the following disclaimer:
I like buying crap that makes me feel a little more legitimately like I know what I’m doing as a writer!!11!ELEVEN!
This is the bottom line: your writer-loved-one isn’t going to find much help in magnetic poetry. The truth is, the best gift you could probably give them is some silence, some space, a caffeine drip, and a swift kick in the ass so that they get back to work, but failing that, you have the option to offer gifts that make them (like me) feel like they have a better grasp on their word vomit when it pours out of them. Or at least think they do. There’s no romance to actually writing anything — it’s actually pretty close to self-flagellation most of the time, and the other half is all about experiencing the momentary elation of self-delusion. Sometimes they do good stuff. Most of the time they hate themselves or their manuscript or everything that comes in-between them and their manuscript (so beware of projectiles and let’s all maintain a solid sense of humour about this, shall we? I see nearly ten days worth of holidays and all I can think of is rolling around my bed with my laptop being slovenly and coddling my characters. Dance puppets! I don’t have to go to the job job so we’re gonna get a bit dirty! Where’s that House Elf, I crave breakfast in bed.)
This post is the cumulation of many hours spent wasting time instead of writing. May my sacrifice benefit you in ways I can’t possibly conceive.
Fa la la la la la la la blah: The Guide to Buying Crap for the Writer in your life this holiday season
Scrivener, Because The Old Grey Matter Ain’t What She Something Something
I may have mentioned this about a billion times, but I’m basically the Grand Poobah of the Cult of Scrivener. I realize some people use Word because it’s just so darn available, and some people are still content giving themselves carpal tunnel and writing by hand, but if you want a recommendation that a writer will actually put to use, get them a Scrivener license. It is quite literally the best investment I’ve made towards my craft, and it only cost fifty bucks.
$45 / Product Page
Vintage Typewriter, or a relic from before the age of the laptop
I know what you’re thinking. We recognize the novelty and romance of the clack clack clack DING! but who still uses whiteout to correct their mistakes? Writers often suffer from this thing I like to call PROCRASTINATION. Hand me a laptop, and I guarantee that in addition to my writing and research software with my manuscript on it, I’ve got about twenty Safari tabs open and i’m probably screwing around on Twitter. (Just look at that shameless plug right there.) Eliminate the distraction and take out the WiFi, and you’ll probably get more words on paper in one session than not.
Various Pricing / Product Page
If the thought of going totally analog terrifies you, there’s a new Kickstarter that launched yesterday that looks promising, if a bit kitch. The Hemmingwrite is a typewriter-style distraction-free writing device that pushes your work into cloud storage for access later. It serves a singular purpose: getting the words down without the distraction of fluffy animals on YouTube getting in the way of your writing time.
$350 and up / Product Page
Someone, someplace, recognized that hybridizing the old and the new was the way to go. I have yet to throw myself upon one of these, mostly because I’m not making use of my tablet to write anything more than the occasional journal entry, but this little guy makes for an adorable desktop ornament that wouldn’t find its way into any cafe to hipster-up the writing process. Sit your butt down, and get the words done.
$699 / Product Page
Field Notes Notebook Subscription
I’ve spoken at length about how ideas happen at the most inopportune times: in the shower, on the bus, in the middle of a meeting, etc. Best wishes I can offer for the new year is, “May you never run out of ideas, and may you always have some place to jot them down.” I’m a big fan of Field Notes — nice paper, compact size, and with the subscription, they deliver a fresh pack with a new theme to your door every couple of months.
$97 for Subscription / Product Page
Paper Scrolls, because we’re old school like that
Yeah, you know, I could recommend a few leather-bound journals but to be perfectly honest I own about twenty of them (Moleskines mostly) with two pages filled in, and the rest empty. Most are collecting dust. I just like them. A lot. There’s something promising about a fresh page that negates the knowledge that I will crawl back to my laptop, tendonitis flaring, within a short period of time. I figure, if you’re going to buy something to write on, might as well strive for originality. They also sell ink to go with your scrolls.
$33.18 / Product Page
Space Pen, because we’re new school like that
Yes, you can write upside down with it. Yes, it is quite compact. No, it won’t cost you the price of a Mont Blanc. Simple, functional, good hand-feel — space pen. Literally my favourite pen.
$23.95 / Product Page
Massaging Bed Rest with Reading Light
There is a long-standing tradition of writers who write in bed. I talked about it briefly in this post. If your writer-loved-one is so inclined to try writing on the horizontal, or even reading in bed, propping them up with a massager equipped with a wee reading light and coffee cup holder is the way to go. This thing can even collapse so you can shove it under the bed and hide your embarrassment when you’re not using it.
$99.99 / Product Page
Book Pillows for Headdesking
When I originally started writing this post, I’d subdivided everything into gift categories. I realized the extra effort was actually a bit futile, but I will say that I’d like to file these book pillows under the classification of “Things to Beat Your Head Against When the Writing Isn’t Going Well.” Please don’t hurt yourself. (Yes, that’s Alice in Wonderland.)
$17 and up / Product Page
Fuel Containment Unit
There are a few people who will tell you that creative types are absolutely dependent on our caffeine intakes. Whether its coffee or tea you’re using to fuel yourself, it’s helpful to have the right sort of device to get it into your face.
$14 / Product Page
The Most Important Thing on This Page: The Onesie
Writing isn’t glamorous. Chances are, when you’re doing it you’re in a bathrobe or sweatpants, grizzled and perhaps stained with coffee. I don’t do my hair or makeup when I get down to it. No one is around to see me tearing at my clothes or yelling at my computer. (Probably for the best.) BUT I did make one valuable addition that has become The Standard Writing Uniform: a Onepiece Onesie. Also fluffy slippers. I cannot recommend it enough. Zip up, get to work. Maybe answer the door while wearing it when the delivery man shows up. Always a conversation starter.
Like I said.
$100 and up / Product Page
Check out the Pinterest Board
I’ve compiled a handy compendium by way of Pinterest that assembles these and other great knick knacks for the writer in your life. If you’re looking for further recommendations to shove into a Christmas stocking besides coal or coffee, I definitely recommend that you check it out:
And you know, if they’ve been naughty and they’ve found themselves on that list, be kind to your little writer person. Buy ’em some stuff to let them know that you care, then let Krampus do the rest if they really need some punishment for their transgressions. (Although, I thought I saw a Groupon for a dungeon session a couple of days back…)
I’m still waiting on my House Elf.