Monday, November 17, 2014

15 Things Writers are Thankful For - A Christmas Gift Idea List

by Alycia W. Morales

As a writer, there are several things I find myself #thankful for each year. My mentor. My agent. My supportive husband. My fellow writers. Decaf coffee and chocolate (by the pound, please!).

I just didn't feel right offering up a Christmas gift idea list for writers without first honoring Thanksgiving, since that's still a little over a week out. And Christmas comes after that.

But the fake trees are standing tall in the local shops, ornaments galore are begging to be purchased as they dangle from hooks in the same stores, and Starbucks is serving up Peppermint Mochas and Cranberry Bliss Bars.

And since this is my week to post before Thanksgiving, I thought I'd offer up a list of 15 things writers are thankful for, aka a Christmas gift idea list. I know that my fellow writers and/or I are thankful we have these 15 things available to us, so they're probably something other writers on your shopping list would be thankful for as well. Feel free to print it off so you can bring it along on Black Friday. Or use it on Cyber Monday.

1. Scrivener - This "is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft." (As their site says.)

I have many writerly friends who love Scrivener and use it regularly. After hearing someone comment about how handy it is for formatting (which tends to get wonky in Microsoft Word), I may be getting this for myself this Christmas. PS - Free trial.

2. An Editor - Any writer worth the words on their page knows and understands the benefits of having a professional editor go over their manuscript. What better way to encourage someone toward publishing their next great novel than to bless them with the gift of a professional edit?

Andrea and I (Alycia) would love to help, and our rates are available here on this site (click our names for the links to our pages). If you'd prefer to shop around, feel free to do so. Here are a couple of sites we recommend: The Christian PENA Little Red Inc.. Also, you may wish to check with your favorite authors. I know several of mine also work as editors on the side.

I met my agent at BRMCWC...
3. Writers Conferences - One of the best things a writer can do for their career is network. And one of the best networking tools in the industry is the writers conference. These are the place that you are going to meet the agents and editors that can get your manuscript into the hands of the right people. Most publishing houses no longer accept unsolicited materials. This means you need an editor or an agent to request a submission from you. One of the only ways to meet these people is to attend writers conferences. There are a few conferences I highly recommend attending: Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Writers Advance Boot Camp, ACFW, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and Florida Christian Writers Conference.

If you're a writer wanting to go to a conference and your budget is tight, consider asking your family and friends to pitch in to your conference fee rather than buying you something else for Christmas or your birthday. If you're a family member looking for a gift idea, maybe consider sponsoring your writer or paying for their meal ticket, a plane ticket, hotel room, etc. associated with the particular conference your family member wishes to attend.

4. Online Courses - Maybe you can't afford the cost of a writers conference, but you still want to learn about the craft of writing or want a critique of your work or wish you could get your writing in front of an industry professional. Online courses can definitely help with that. One place to look for these would be Writers Digest.

5. Daycare Services - Many writers are stay-at-home parents. Or they work out of their "home" office. Which means that distractions are abundant. Maybe you could bless your writer with a few hours of daycare services each week. Or pop in and offer to watch the kids so they can work at their "other" office (aka Starbucks) for a couple of hours.

Personally, I know it's difficult to keep my creative juices going and the words flowing when my four children are constantly coming to me with a barrage of questions or needs (aka requests for me to buy them things they must have right now). It's a tremendous blessing when my husband comes home from his day of work and asks if I'd like to get out for a while so I can finish that chapter or race to meet that deadline.

6. A gift card to Barnes and Noble or Amazon or any other book carrier - Here's the thing about writing: it takes time to learn to do it well. Even if you're born with a natural talent for it. One way to learn to do it well is to read books on the craft of writing or how to edit or different ways to express the same emotion. Andrea and I provide a list of recommended reading {here}. Another way to learn how to write well is to read books by other people in your particular genre. You'll learn from reading their words what works well and what doesn't. Gift cards come in handy for stocking up on these reading materials.

7. A subscription to Writer's Digest or The Writer - Again, useful tools for a writer to learn how to improve their craft.

8. A gift card to Hobby Lobby or Michael's. Or a ticket to the next big game. Or concert. - Writers tend to be creative in more areas than one. Several friends of mine are also photographers, crocheters, jewelry makers, painters, and more. And one thing I've learned over the years is that I need to be creative in more than just my writing. Because it helps my writing if I can take a break and make something else. Or go someplace else. Maybe your writer isn't the artsy-craftsy type. Maybe they like hiking or flying planes better. Support them in those other areas as well. Bless them with a gift card or free pass or something so that they can enjoy another of their "outlets." Their writing will thank you for it.

Gloves by SoulRole on Etsy
9. Fingerless Gloves - As I'm sitting here typing this post, I'm wishing I had a pair. The weather is getting cooler (it's raining here right now, so add damp-cooler to that), and our fingers can get pretty chilly as they fly over the keys. It does help to have on fingerless gloves. Click on the picture to follow a link to that pair. Click "Fingerless Gloves" here or above to follow the link to a wide selection of them on Etsy.

(PS - There's even a pair listed for those Whovian writer friends of  yours...)

10. A gift card to Staples or another office supply-type center - Authors have various organizational needs. While some of us are super proficient keeping ourselves organized with our technological tools and apps, other tend to favor the white board. Or Post-It Notes. Some use the calendars on our phones. Others (like me) use the handy day planner. Believe it or not, a trip to the office supply store could be super handy and a huge blessing to a writer.

11. A gift card to VistaPrint or Moo - One of the key tools in a writer's networking bag is their business card. If a writer is going to attend a writers conference, they will eventually be told they need to come with business cards in hand. VistaPrint and Moo are two trusted sites for designing and ordering these.

I have a collection of minions on my desk.
12. Inspiration (or a gift certificate to a place where they can get it) - Many authors I know, myself included, have things hanging from their walls or sitting on their desks that keep them inspired. Whether it's quotes, photographs, minions--> or superhero paraphernalia, the item(s) encourage them to continue working through the day, the sudden blank page (or mind), or toward that deadline or goal. Find out what your writer loves and give them a little inspiration for their office space.

One of my favorite author spaces belongs to Torry Martin (comedian, actor, writer - honestly, I think he can do just about anything...). You can check it out {here}.

13. A workout video or gym membership - No, I'm not trying to say that your writer friend is fat. But writers do sit a lot. Which isn't good for us. Many of us will stand up and do at least 10 minutes of activity throughout our day, whether we wash the dishes, swap out a load of laundry, do a 10-minute workout, run the treadmill for 15, or take the dog for a walk.

14. If you're afraid you may offend your writer by buying them a workout video or gym membership, consider buying them a standing desk. (The cheapest standing desk was $35 and could hold a laptop.) These are becoming more and more popular for obvious health reasons. I'm even considering getting one. Especially since every time I have to stand for several minutes at a time, I find myself looking for the nearest wall or column to lean against.

15. Time - This could come in many forms. Maybe your writer could use a maid. Or a cook. Or a taxi driver. Maybe you're thinking, "She's crazy." But I'm not. Really. I promise you. What friend (especially if her love language is acts of service) wouldn't love it if you stopped by to offer to tidy up a bit, wash a load of dishes, cycle a load of laundry, take the kids to the park for an hour, or cook the family dinner for a night? Maybe he's been on deadline for three months and could use an evening out with his wife. Maybe she could use a weekend alone at a mountain cabin but needs someone to take care of the cats while she's away. Consider your writer and what his or her needs may be. Offer your service(s). Sometimes the best gift isn't one that money can buy. It's the offering of a true friend.


15 Things a #Writer Would Want for Christmas via @AlyciaMorales #shopping {Click to Tweet}

Tell us, what would be the ultimate gift someone could give you as a writer?

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