By Gayle Francis Moffet
Writers are a thirsty lot.
Personally, I drink two cups of coffee every morning before switching to decaf tea
and water for the rest of the day. I know writers who only drink specific
things when writing because it’s become part of their process. Find out what that
drink is and buy them some. Make sure to stay specific as possible. I live in a
coffee town, and there’s a lot of debate between Stumptown vs. Public Domain
vs. Back Porch Coffee Roasters vs. Starbucks (Starbucks is generally seen as
the lowest form, but I can’t hear you over my delicious, standard caffeine),
and I’m betting the writers you know are equally picky. There’s a difference
between Earl Gray and Lady Gray, and there’s a difference between Mountain Dew
Code Red and Mountain Dew regular. The good news is, this one’s really easy to
check. Just poke around in their cupboards a bit, and you’ll know.
By Gayle Francis Moffet
So, you know writers, writers who is serious about their work and getting their names out there. And it’s the holiday season, and you want to get your writers something that shows you understand that writing is work and takes a lot of effort, but you don’t want to default to the old “here is a nice journal and new pen” route.
What’s a gift giver to do? Well, consider any of the following options:
1. A Gift Certificate for a Duotrope Account ($5-$50)
Come the first of the year, Duotrope is going to a paid subscription service. If you don’t know about Duotrope, it’s a website dedicated to market listings for writers. Writers search listings for places to submit their work. Duotrope will be charging $50 for a year’s subscription, but writers can also pay by the month for $5 a month. If they don’t pay on a particular month, they won’t have access to all of Duotrope’s features, but their information will always be saved for when they come back. You can get a gift certificate for a subscription right here.
Perfect for: writers with short fiction, poetry, or non-fiction to submit; writers who want to go small press with their books;
2. A Copy of Scrivener ($40-$45; Mac and Windows OS)
Personally, I’m comfortable with Microsoft Word and lots of open tabs in my browser, but I know plenty of writers who swear by Scrivener and its ability to help them stay organized as they write. Scrivener’s got a lot of features that a lot of writers I know find incredibly useful, and all that usefulness helps motivate them to keep writing. You can buy a license for Scrivener right here.
Perfect for: writers who are big on organization; writers who mention needing a different way to write than Microsoft Word and lots of browser tabs.
3. Books on Craft (varies)
Books on the craft of writing can be difficult to sort through. Some of them are excellent. Others are…not excellent, and it’s possible the writers you know may think you’re passive-aggressively trying to tell them that they should practice more. But, then again, they’re writers. They should be practicing more. So, where to start in the books on craft? Ask at the bookstore. They’ll be able to tell you what’s been selling the most and what’s been selling the longest. Longevity is sort of key to books on craft. Stephen King’s On Writing (great for any prose writer you know) has been selling well for over a decade. Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art (my preferred go-to for comic book writing*) has been in circulation since 1985. It’s not that newer books can’t be useful, but if you start with the classics, you can be certain the writers in your life are getting lessons that are pretty universal.
Perfect for: writers who learn by reading; writers who want to see how the big names do it; writers generally interested in understanding their craft.
4. Coffee. Tea. Juice. Soda. (varies)
|So Coffee Mood by Daria Sapphire|
Perfect for: writers who get particular about their drinks; writers who require caffeine to live; writers in general
So, there you go. Four last-minute gifts to show the writers in your life that you want them productive and working! It is—honestly and with complete sincerity—one of the greatest gifts you can give to a writer in process.
*I am certain comic writers reading this were expecting to see me recommend Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and while I find it a good book with useful information, I feel Eisner is superior because he relies on practical advice where McCloud can fall into some pretty dense art theory. Also, keep in mind that McCloud heavily references Eisner’s work on the topic of comic creation to write Understanding Comics.