Tuesday, July 2, 2013

7 Useful Gifts for a Writer That They'll Love

Do you have a writer in the family? Is a birthday, holiday, or other event coming up and you need a gift? Try one of these on for size!

1. Support. There's not a better way in the world to show appreciation for your writer than to support them in whatever way you can. The greatest feeling in the world for me is when someone asks for my autograph. I get all giggly and my cheeks turn red, I even signed my name wrong once I got so overly excited about it! Buy their books for yourself, for gifts, to give out as promo to people you know, tell the news stations and local bookstores how great they are, request their books be stocked, tell your friends to do the same. Leave reviews on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, BarnesandNoble.com, on your blog, on someone else's blog. Whatever way you can find to support them, do it. It means more than any writer can ever thank you enough for, and we'll always remember the ones who were always there for us.

2. Writer's Workshop/Retreat Gift Certificate. Most writers love the idea of attending a seminar, workshop, retreat, speaking event by their favorite author, meet and greet, etc, but for the struggling writer with a meager budget, sometimes this is just a dream that will never come true. Some writers may not even know these things exist. But some event like this would be a great treat to anyone looking to improve their craft-which is any serious writer, published or not. This kind of gift can get pricey, depending on what's available in your area, but if you have the budget for it, this may just make a writer's dream come true.

3. Energy Pack. Have you ever heard a writer say, "I just have too much energy, I'm too awake, I simply can't write with all this focus in my head." No, of course not. That's just silly. Writers write, and writing takes a lot-A LOT-out of you. Sure, it's a passion, it's fun, blah blah blah. The reality is, it's absolutely exhausting, and you'll often see us with Red Bull or Monster drinks, Starbucks cups, or just several bottles of our favorite soda, along with snacks and more sugar than is safe to consume. 

So, help fuel them. Get them lots of snacks, like Combos, chips, beef jerky, Slim Jim sticks, cheese snacks (a fave for me!) like a cheese ball or cheese log with Club or Ritz crackers, Pizza Rolls, Bagel Bites, or whatever snack your writers likes to munch on while writing. Okay, everything on that list is a guilty pleasure for me. Order them a pizza. Stock them up on sodas or their favorite energy drink, chocolate, gummy bears, and Jolly ranchers, or plenty of gift cards to Starbucks. Or just get them coffee they can make at home, with flavors to mix it up. Whatever they like, if you stock them up on it, they will LOVE it. Plus, it saves them money. Always a win.

4. Goody Basket. We all like goody baskets. They're like gift baskets, only filled with goodies you might actually want, need, or use. Things like computer paper, a journal/notebook, assortment of GOOD pens and pencils (if you know their favorite brand, even better!), pencil sharpener, desk organizer, flash drive sticks, gift certificates to Office Max/Best Buy/other electronics store for computer supplies, gift cards to local restaurants/stores (hey, let's face it, everyone likes gift cards, but struggling writers sometimes survive off these!), one or more items from the Energy Pack above (see #3), coupons/certificates/etc for promotional/marketing materials-these will vary, depending on location and availability, but can range from a list of websites that offer free promotions to a certificate for free or deeply discounted marketing materials, or even a book on how to promote and market your book without going broke. There are plenty of other things your writer might be into, from favorite pastimes to help them relax to a book of quotes to help them stay focused, just make it personal and, most importantly, USEFUL to the writer.

5. Feed the Starving Writers. I've mentioned that a struggling writer might sometimes live off gift cards, but let's face it, they probably don't get many of those. Now, don't go giving them cash, because they'll spend it on things they think they need. I'm so totally guilty here! If you're close enough to the writer to know who they use for utilities, pay a bill (or part of a bill, since they're likely to be past due anyway) for them. Give them a free month of Netflix or another popular subscription service. Gift cards to specific stores, like Kroger or a local store for food or a clothing store, instructions on how to make household items (maybe even with a starter kit) to help em save money on everyday items, a roll or two of quarters if you know they use a coin laundry, dog food/cat food or toys for their animals, anything from #3 or #4 above-you know what? Anything that they don't have to buy or pay for, or that will help them make money. That's the idea behind it all. This is one of those lists that can be endless, but helpful in ways you probably can't imagine, and can be personalized for your specific writer. It may not seem like much to pay a water bill for someone, but that's just one less thing a struggling writer has to deal with, and it's a huge help, whether you realize it or not. And a free month of Netflix? It's, what, $8? And the writer gets endless movies for both relaxation from their lives and possible inspiration. A month of happiness for $8. Yeah, it's worth it.

6. A Writing Getaway. Now, don't be misled. This doesn't have to be a cabin in the snowy mountains with all expenses paid (though I don't know anyone, writer or otherwise, who would turn that away), but offer to take the kids for a weekend, or pay for a discounted hotel room for the weekend either in town or somewhere else. Of course, this is providing they can get away from work for a couple of days, because otherwise you may have to creatively tweak this plan. The purpose is the same, though. Remove them from their everyday lives, change the scenery, and let them get some writing done without interruptions and with the potential for new inspiration. Heck, offer to swap houses with them for a weekend, and you take the kids. Whatever you can do, it's amazing what kind of impact something so simple can do. Just make sure that if you put them up in a hotel (or amazing cabin in the woods or snow-capped mountains) they have access to wifi. Or at the very least, a wired internet connection. As a writer, you never know when you may need to access Google or Thesaurus.com, or even just pop online to ask a writer friend to help you through a difficult scene. While it'd be nice to block social media for a bit, the internet is crucial for writers, so don't send them somewhere that doesn't have it!

7. Grunt Work. Okay, go ahead, laugh. But how many writers would love if the cleaning fairy would come take care of some of the laundry, or the dishes, or the whole house? Whether you have a full-time job outside the home, kids, live in a shack or a mansion, you probably get so busy that housework sometimes takes a backseat or completely overtakes your writing time. I know I totally do this ALL the time. I get so caught up in something that I neglect my housework, then I spend a few hours cleaning when all I needed from the beginning was a few minutes each day, and end up kicking myself for wasting time that could have been spent writing. Hey, it happens to the best of us. So if you have cleaning OCD or just wanna do something out of the norm for your writer, surprise them by cleaning their house. Just don't be surprised if something crawls out from under the bed and tries to nibble your leg or drag you to an alternate universe...and if you don't have a writer that would accept this, but you feel the need to clean, email me and I'll send you my address. :)

There are PLENTY of small gifts you can get for a writer too. Flash drives. A ream of printer paper. Pens. Pencils. Bookmarks. A single gift card. A gift certificate for Amazon (most writers are readers too, and we love books!). Candles, bubble bath, bath salts (not the stuff that turns you into a zombie), stuff to pamper ourselves, crossword puzzles and other things to work our brains and give us a break from writing...look at your writer's other hobbies. You know, they ARE more than just a machine with one function. :) 

**Just in case anyone is wondering, my birthday is in 30 days. I like to crochet, cook, craft other items, watch horror movies (especially B-rated Horror that doesn't involve strippers or excessive boobies), Chinese food, shooting guns, Genghis Grill, Aspen Creek, my fave colors are pink n black followed by dark blue, I've never been to a retreat or seminar, I'm running out of clothes, my house is a disaster, and my kitchen looks like an abandoned ghost town. Oh, and I like things that sparkle, glitter, shine, or shimmer. But I hate yellow gold and brass. Ya know, just sayin...lol!!**

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