Do you have a writer in your life? With just a week to go til the big C, are you struggling to think of a Christmas present to get them? Well struggle no more, I have made the gift guide you’ve been waiting for. You’re welcome.
1. Beta readers
Has your writer been slogging away at a first draft of their book, poem or story? Perhaps they’ve asked you to read it, but you didn’t know what to say other than ‘that’s good’ because you love your writer and want them to succeed? Or maybe they haven’t asked you because they love you and don’t want to impose.
Finding people who can give constructive feedback on a work in progress is hard work, and asking for that kind of help can be awkward and embarrassing – but it’s the only way to make a draft better. But how can you make a Christmas present out of this?
If you have no money, but a bit of time, why not see if you can find them an impartial beta reader? Ask around your own pals, get tweeting, or offer yourself if you’re confident doing that.
2. A notebook
You might think that your writer already has a squillion notebooks, and they couldn’t possibly want another one. You would be wrong. Notebooks are the best, it is impossible to have too many, and there’s one to suit all price ranges – from Poundland to Harrods (NB, if you have £98 to spend, I would suggest you buy ten nice notebooks rather than one fairly average one).
3. Help with protecting their writing time
A lot of writers, particularly those who are just starting out, feel a bit guilty about taking time to write when they could be doing other stuff. Because writers enjoy writing, it can feel like a luxury to take time out to do it – especially if there’s housework to do, kids to look after, or family and friends to catch up with that you haven’t seen in weeks due to the day job. It can also be bloody knackering to try and sit down to write at the end of the day, or to try and get up half an hour early to squeeze the time in there.
Does your writer ever say they’re going to write, but when you put the telly on they stay put and veg out with you til bedtime? Have you ever noticed them clattering pots and pans about and making passive aggressive comments about how it would be nice for someone else to do this for a change so that they could get some work done? Has your writer ever commented that they would love to have the time to just sit and work an idea through from start to finish without feeling that they ought to make the dinner, ring their gran, or do the shopping?
Once again I have two gift options for you here – budget, or fancy.
The budget version:
Give your writer some kind of token or IOU that says you will do the dishes every night for a month, clear out of the house for an hour a week, sit beside them in a coffee shop every Saturday morning reading a book while they write so they don’t feel self conscious, take the kids to swimming lessons, or whatever else you can think of that says ‘here is your writing time.’ Remind them that you don’t resent losing them for a few hours, that you know it’s an important part of them, that it isn’t just a luxury.
The fancy version:
Get them booked onto a writing retreat. These are pricey, but they look amazing – you basically get to a house somewhere out of the way for a week and spend the whole time writing.
Much like the notebook thing, you may think your writer already has too many books, but I guarantee they do not think that. Writers love reading, and doing it helps them get better. So buy them the best thing you’ve read this year, your favourite book of all time, or just go into a bookshop and grab one with a pretty cover. I fancy all three of these based on the fact I’ve seen them in water stones and they look pretty.
- The Fox And The Star – Coralie Bickford-Smith
- The Book Of Strange New Things – Michael Faber
- The Hourglass Factory – Lucy Ribchester
If you genuinely feel uncomfortable picking something, get a book token. I don’t know anyone that writes who would complain about this.
5. A mixtape / CD / memory stick of writing music
This depends on knowing your writer’s writing habits reasonably well – but you could always make them a mixtape. Music can inspire emotion that helps kick start the writing process. Sometimes I write in silence, other times I like having background music – but stuff with lyrics distracts me so I prefer post-rock, instrumental stuff by the likes of Explosions in the Sky. I know some writers who have a particular album on repeat until they finish a manuscript. If you get this right though, it could be a really thoughtful (and budget friendly) gift.
So, there you have it – five gift ideas for the writer in your life. Have you got any better ones? Let me know in the comments!