Okay, so my personal blogging hero, Chuck Wendig, put out his yearly guide to what to buy for writers. And, as always, there are some great ideas. Some really cool shit that would be really cool for many writers.
But I think he missed a few really great ideas, and I think I can expand on his list with these few things.
But the most important thing that you can do for your writers, I’m not even going to put in the list. It’s support them by purchasing their books. Or talking about them. Sharing the links to their super special Christmas specials. Or the piddly $5 Amazon gift card giveaway they’re running. Whatever it is that they are doing, be amazing friends and family. Share, share, share! It helps more than you know.
1 – Gift Cards — People severely underestimate the power of gift cards. $20 for Amazon or Staples or even Wal-Mart could buy me a huge pile of printer paper, or ink (both of which we use at an alarming rate.) Also, if you know me well enough to know where I shop for fun things that don’t have anything to do with my writing career, that’s a great idea for a gift card too.
Gift Cards have a bad rap for being impersonal, but when all else fails, a nice little Amazon Gift Card can really make my day. They have nearly everything I could ever want for writing, fucking off, reading, playing, doing whatever.
2 – Printer Paper or Ink –– I have to print out reams and reams of pages of the various drafts of our novels for editing and because we don’t trust the machines. If my computer crashes, sure I’ll still have our work saved on our Google Drive (see point #3), but what if THAT crashes? What if aliens take over the Earth and close down all our clouds, both real and imaginary? *panic face* But, let’s face it, all writers need to print stuff. It’s a necessity we’re prone to forgetting to buy.
3 – Subscription or Storage Upgrade to Cloud Storage — in my case, it’s Google Drive. And while a text document doesn’t take up much space, cover images, promo videos, ad spot images, musical selections, inspirational porn, finalized manuscripts, all take up quite a bit of space when stacked on top of each other. A nice sized cloud storage creates security in the event of an inevitable computer crash or the slightly less traumatic upgrade.
Also, with my Google Drive, I am able to sync my files over all my devices. So, if I wanted to I could work on my computer, my phone, my tablet, my roommate’s computer, a stranger’s hijacked iPad, or, you know, whatever.
4 – Tea (or hot beverage of your writer’s choice) –– I practically live on Tetley British Blend. But there’s also a fine selection of flavored teas from Eastern Shore Tea that we all love and devour like junkies. Especially the Black Raven blend. It’s a delight hot or iced and we love having it for writing marathons. But maybe your writer loves coffee. Or cocoa. Or the heated blood of the sacrifices all writers require several times a year. (You did know about the sacrifices, RIGHT??) Whatever their drink of choice, picking up a few choice selections will save them the trauma of having to leave their house in search of the perfect cup of coffee out there, in the wild.
5 – Tea (or Coffee) Making Accessories –– a nice carafe for brewing loose leaf, or fun mugs, or a T-Rex infuser. Anything that makes the process of making tea more fun or easy and I’m sold! And for those coffee drinkers, a new coffee pot, or a thermos to keep their lifeline nice and warm. Or maybe a snarky writer’s mug. There are dozens of them on Etsy, Cafe Press, or Zazzle.
6 – Blank Books and Pens (and other office supplies) — always a great idea for writers. Always. Even when they are like me and have an entire shelf (not exaggerating, the whole shelving unit top to bottom is full) of blank books and pens laying all over the house with 6 boxes of 30 pens each laid up, just in case. The last thing I need is pens or blank books now that most of our writing is done on an Alpha Smart (see point #7). But it’s still nice to have for journaling, free writing, outlining, and just other general writer scribbling.
And not all writers have upgraded to sweet tech straight from the late 90s. Some are still scrawling away on paper. Give them something cool to hold that paper. Also, it’s great to have a different blank book for each project so you can easily differentiate them.
And find out what sort of other miscellaneous office supplies they might need. For me, it’s 3 ring binders (the hard 1 inch and 1.5 inch ones, not floppy ones, and inside pockets optional) and I desperately need a new 3 hole punch. For them it might be a holder for all those pens or a new awesome lamp for their desk.
7 – An Alpha Smart — this is basically just a keyboard with a teeny tiny screen at the top. No bells and whistles. No internet. No apps. Just words, words, words. It’s the most amazing thing to happen to my writing since spell check.
It’s portable (about the size of a 13 inch laptop, just slightly thicker), easy to use (made for elementary school kids to learn to type, so you can learn to use it, you techno-phobes), cheap (you can get one on Amazon for about $30 after shipping. eBay has them for a bit less, and often you can get lots of 10-20 of them for around $100) and durable.
I mean seriously fucking durable. I’ve had mine banging around inside my messenger back for over a year with only a small issue with my N key wanting to pop off (and it snaps right back in so it’s not really an issue). Nevi carries hers in a backpack. The cats sleep on them if we leave them out. They’ve been dropped and kicked. I stepped on mine once.
But, the very, very best story about how durable these things are (and PLEASE don’t try this on purpose!!!) comes from my roommate. He was hit by a car while walking to work one morning about a month ago. The main brunt of the impact was on his back where he carried his backpack with his AlphaSmart inside. He was thrown nearly 8 feet off the road into the bushes. He was out of work for nearly two weeks recovering (and he’s doing 98% fine now, thanks for asking. A goddamn miracle.), and his AlphaSmart turned right on that first time he went to use it to try some writing while he was hopped up on some really great pain meds. He hasn’t had a single issue with it. So, yeah. Durable.
8 – Books, Movies, and other Inspiration –– Writers don’t work in a vacuum. Help yours out by getting them the things that inspire them. Whether it’s the latest season of Supernatural or a pile of nonfiction books about neolithic architecture, get them something to fill their minds up so they can turn that into words.
9 – FOODS!! Remember that chocolate is never a bad idea. Even if you have a writer who is allergic or *gasp!* doesn’t like it, we all love food. Every writer I have ever met has a snack that they really, really love and would be eternally grateful if you bought for us.
——–SHAMELESS PROMO DOWN HERE. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.——-
The Parliament of Twilight, Episodes 1-3 are now on sale wherever fine books are sold!
In the spirit of giving the most to the writers you love, please buy your copies of our eBooks from Smashwords and the paperbacks from LuLu. (Though all purchases are happily welcomed and appreciated. It’s just that we get more royalties through those two sites.)
Also, for a mere $10 (plus shipping), you can order an autographed copy of the Illustrated Episode One, with the special cover by Nevi Star herself, and 10 gorgeous black and white illustrations in the text. PM us on Facebook or email us (but let’s be honest, Facebook will get you an answer faster.)