Last year I did up 25 Gifts for Writers, and may have accidentally suggested you kidnap Neil Gaiman. WELL NO MORE OF THAT, says this very specific legal writ. This year I’m back with another ten suggestions for the penmonkeys in your life.
What if I told you that there existed a piece of software that slammed a giant glacial wall between A WRITER and the INTERNET so that said writer could write? BOOM INTERNET BLOCKING SOFTWARE. Which sounds strange, I know, because it’s like a cookie jar that bites you every time you reach for it, but dang, it does the trick. Sure, the first few days the writer will be greasily pawing at her monitor trying to get at that sweet sweet Facebook game she’s been mindlessly playing instead of writing, but after a week she’ll settle into the warm productive bliss of hot, fresh word count. Get this for a writer and help them eliminate distractions. (Bonus points: actually give the writer in your life time to write!)
Tonx Coffee Subscription
A writer needs coffee. Tonx has amazing coffee. They will send it to you automatically. Yay.
Give somebody the ability to take notes and gasp keep them anywhere with the magic that is Evernote. As writers, we all basically have brains that look like 10-year-old underwear, all ratty and ragged, so give us this. Help us out. (If not that, then an iTunes or Android gift card to get us other writing or note-taking apps. Or maybe just porn. Who doesn’t need more porn?)
A book that explodes and dissects story in the most visually-explosive of ways. The writer in your life may not need this book, but they’ll damn sure savor it. Wonderbook, baby.
Houseplants give oxygen. They make excellent silent companions. And in a pinch they can be eaten for various hallucinogenic benefits. Ta-da! Health! Nature! Hallucinations!
Plus pins, markers, string, whatever. A corkboard on the wall — or a whiteboard or a chalkboard — make a damn good receptacle for a writer’s thoughts in a very physical, present way. You know how detectives or CIA agents or conspiracy nuts sometimes have that crazy wall with all the photos and all the strings connecting them? Writers are like that, too. Forget that thing I said about Evernote: an outline or mind-map right on your wall is magic stuff. The writer will appreciate this. Check Etsy for home-spun versions.
Life is distracting as all fuck. Kids screaming inside. Lawnmowers roaring outside. The wails of those you’ve trapped down in your basement. And so: ta-da, noise-canceling headphones. Also don’t be upset that when the writer in your life ignores you for a while — it’s nothing personal, it’s just, THE STORIES WILL SPOOK IF YOU SCARE THEM WITH LOUD TALKY TALKY.
External Storage Device (or Dropbox)
Redundant backups are powerful voodoo for a writer, so get them a USB key, an external hard drive, or a paid Dropbox account. I also use a robot monkey, an NSA drone, and the photographic memory of a 125-year-old Buddhist monk to store my writing, but I understand if you don’t want to take it that far. … Poser.
Solar-Powered Bluetooth Keyboard
I fucking love my solar-powered keyboard. Note I didn’t say “I love fucking my solar-power keyboard,” because I figure that would hurt. Never tried it, though. And my mother always said I should try everything once? Hm. Anyway. I’ve got the Logitech one for Mac, though larger ones are available. I take it with me wherever I go — er, I mean, when I travel, it’s not like I’m bringing it to the fucking gas station and shit. But it’s great. No batteries required. Very responsive. Will bludgeon an interloper in a pinch. The word-herder in your life may diggit.
Daniel Solis created these great physical dice — d6 “Writer Dice” — that work to help a writer continue pushing your story forward. You’ll find varieties other than these, too, like Rory’s Story Cubes. Related, but different: also awesome to get a writer word-bases games like Balderdash or Scrabble, or even awesomer, get them hooked on tabletop roleplaying games.
Shameless Plug #1: The Kick-Ass Writer
My book, The Kick-Ass Writer, will punt a writer’s netherquarters into the wordosphere with 1001 hard jabs of writing, storytelling and publishing advice. It exists in physical format, which means the aforementioned writer-type can get naked with it and rub it all over themsleves to absorb its dubious wisdom via fleshy osmosis. Details here.
Shameless Plug #2: Terribleminds Merch
Mugs and shirts terribleminds-style, baby. Certified Penmonkey! Art Harder, Motherfucker! And now I’ve added a new mug: the Art Harder Safe-For-Work version, where FUCKER gets a bunch of fancy asterisks. Whee! Asterisks! Asterisks look like cat buttholes!