7 Holiday Gifts Writers Actually Need
As the holiday season rolls around, you may be realizing that there are only so many notebooks, pens, and sarcastic mugs you can give the writer in your life before you have to think of something new. We feel you, and as writers ourselves, we’ve curated a smarter list of holiday gifts for writers. Check out these seven holiday gifts for writers that will impress your writer friend or relative because they’re actually things writers need and use. Don’t get us wrong, tee shirts and mugs are cool too . . . but we think you can do better.
Writing guides. We writers are always looking to hone our craft, and we often draw inspiration from the greats. If you'd like to give your favorite writer a writing guide, see if you can sneak a peek at their bookshelf to see which they already own. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is hands down the most touted guide to writing and life. Even if your writer isn’t a horror fan, Stephen King’s On Writing is another well-respected guide with sage advice that applies to every genre. To determine which guide is best for your particular writer, you can also check out a few blog posts to find the best fit.
Give your writer the gift of feedback with a Spun Yarn Manuscript Critique. Chances are, the writer you love both craves and fears feedback about the project that has consumed her soul for the last few [months/years/decades.] When she's ready for feedback, she'll spend another eon biting her nails about how to get it. A Spun Yarn manuscript critique combines feedback from three trained readers who specialize in your writer's genre, and gives her a customized 30 page critique with editorial advice about exactly what to do in a next revision. The great thing about giving the gift of feedback is that the writer can choose to use it when she's ready, taking the stress out of soliciting feedback. Can’t afford the full manuscript critique package? Try out the mini critique for $35.
Entry to a writing contest. If you're shopping for a fiction writer, short fiction contests are a perfect opportunity for him to sharpen his skills and have a lot of fun. Here are a few popular and well-respected writing contests that charge an entry fee the writing community generally agrees is worth it in exchange for the exposure and large prizes:
NYC Midnight runs a contest every season, rotating contests for short stories, flash fiction, and screenplays. They offer several large cash prizes and a chance for writers to participate in multiple rounds of competition supported by a large and supportive writing community.
Writer's Digest is another admired resource for writers that offers annual competitions in practically every genre and format.
Glimmer Train is the holy grail of short fiction awards. A writer who places in one of these rotating competitions has a huge leg up—Glimmer Train stories appear in America's Best Fiction anthologies every year. Every literary fiction writer should give this competition a shot at least once.
Submittable Subscription. You are truly in the know if you give the writer in your life a subscription to the world's largest online database of literary markets. For a reasonable yearly fee, Submittable allows writers to find the specific markets that fit for any piece we’re working on, and lets us track and check on the progress of our submissions. Submittable includes listings for short story, nonfiction, poetry, and full length manuscript publishers, and there's not a writer out there who won't find it useful.
Scrivener. Every writer battles to organize all the moving pieces in a long term project. One of the most popular writing software/app products available, Scrivener makes the management of a large project possible by allowing writers to organize all the notes, drafts, and metadata in one place with a user-friendly interface. As a writing gift, writers agree that Scrivener is one of the best.
A gift card for free books! Writers love to read, and sometimes the books we want can't be found in the local library. For a writer, a gift certificate to a bookstore is like candy to a fourth-grader, complete with greedy eye-gleaming and salivation as we unwrap your card and immediately begin planning which books to buy first.
Want to give a more personal writer gift? Give your favorite writer the gift of time: offer a few hours of free babysitting, house-cleaning, or anything that will incentivize us to get out of the house and focus on our work. We tend to put other obligations (you know, jobs that pay actual money) ahead of our writing. Any way you can help us make time to write will be an incredible gift.
In choosing your writer holiday gift, it helps to know what kind of a writer your loved one is: fiction, memoir, short story, novel, all of the above? Many writer gifts will be tailored to the fiction writer, but all writers benefit from the gift of feedback, writing guides, and more books. We hope we’ve given you some ideas about how to score some major points with your writer, or at the very least, to avoid buying yet another notebook.