Through the yearS, I’ve seen lists upon lists for people trying to find the right gift for writers. Though some have been better than others, none have really conveyed what writers really need or want for the holidays.

See, writers are troubled souls. Writers were meant to write and storytellers are born to, well, tell stories. Everything else we do isn’t as good. So shopping for us can be difficult.

Here’s the shopping list:

  • Don’t get us writing journals. Just don’t. I have 10,000 of them and don’t really use them for journaling, that’s why I have a blog and a friend with vodka in her freezer. What would be better are small notebooks, the kind that can fit in pockets or purses. Those are super useful for when us writer types have to jot down some notes. I go through those like water.
  • Books. Eh. This is a hit or miss. If it’s the latest bestseller, that’s great! But unless they’re Stephen King, it’ll be next Christmas until we’ll be able to read it. A better alternative is a book that could be useful for research. Say, for example, a writer is writing a book about a former cop turned detective. A book about police procedures or how to become a private investigator would be useful. They’ll thank you for it.
  • Experiences. In addition to books, writers have to use other means of research. Paying or arranging for a lesson or experience that their character will have is valuable. If the character they’re writing about is a dance instructor, get some dance lessons for them. If the character is, again, a private investigator, arrange for an interview and a ride along.
  • Help, and lots of it. When writers write, everything else falls by the wayside. Dishes grow legs. Laundry smells more like landfills. Basic cleanliness is non existence. A great gift would be to offer to clean or take care of some cleaning issues. This is most especially important when a writer is in the middle of a project and/or a deadline is approaching. Offer to wash dishes, cook a meal, take some laundry home. Or paying some cleaning service to do it is just as good.
  • Errands? We don’t need no stinking errands. I can speak for writers when I say I have missed many a bill payment deadline because I couldn’t think past what was going on on the page. Offer or pay someone to run some errands once in awhile. For example, been meaning to go to the store and get some food for that past two weeks but between writing and working, no time. Get it?
  • A writing getaway for one. Not everyone can afford those writers workshop weekends. I’ve never gone to one. They tend to be expensive so if getting one of those for the writer on your list is not feasible, do the next best thing. Pay for a hotel room or a stay outside of their comfort zone. Although I do 99 percent of my writing in a home with little distractions, sometimes getting out of the house is best for getting my work done. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Two nights at the Comfort Inn is great. Of course, if you REALLY love the writer on your list go for a weekend cabin in the woods or on the lake. (total cheap here in Louisiana. Hint, hint)
  • Organizing the future. Writers by nature are not organized so getting them a calendar ain’t that helpful. BUT if you fill that calendar with deadlines for writing contests you think they would/should enter…well that’s just thoughtful.
  • Reference books. To this DAY I don’t know when to use effect or affect. But grammar and usage books have help me along the years. Nice dictionaries and thesaurus are good. Mystery writers would love a book of poisons. The Writer’s Market would be awesome. I personally have enjoyed The Pocket Muse.
  • I got yo’ package right heah! One of the best writing gifts I got was a care package. It had the latest issue of Poets and Writers (Writer’s Digest is good too.) a candle, some pens, pocket-sized notepads, snacks, bottled water, and an issue of Glimmer Train. This is a great idea for the writer who is starting out. This idea can also be customized for other types of writers.

And there you go. Some gift ideas. This should help you out or at least get your started for what to get me, err, the writer in your life this Christmas.