It’s that time of year again. And I love it! I love giving gifts. I’m not gonna lie; I love getting them, too. Christmas makes me one happy little elf. If Hanukkah’s your holiday, you’ve got eight nights of awesomeness. Huzzah!
Last year I shared Writers wish list 2012: 20+ gifts writers will love (those are still great gifts, btw) and it remains one of my most popular posts. Now I’m back with another 20+ gifts that may make your favorite writer’s life better, healthier, and/or easier. If you want to look beyond the usual pens and journals, these are thoughtful, useful gifts that bonafide writers will get excited about opening.
You’ll find gifts for every pocketbook. Want to give a writer something small just to show your support? You might find it here. Need a “wow” gift for a very special writer in your life? You just might find that here, too. Writers, your loved ones would probably appreciate a couple of helpful hints, especially in a nicely crafted email with a link to this post. Just saying.
While I put some of the company websites within the post, I also put Amazon links at the bottom so you can check out other reviews.
Being cozy and comfortable wherever you are makes writing so much easier. I bought a space heater when I got staffed on my first show because it was freezing in our offices. Since then I always have a space heater in my office. I’ve had my eye on this Crane space heater because it gives off a such cozy ambience.
I like my space heater to have a thermostat setting so I can set it for the precise temperature I want. I also look for safety features like an automatic shut-off if the unit accidentally tips over. Another plus for me is a remote control. Once I get my office toasty warm, I don’t want to interrupt my writing flow by having to get up and turn off my space heater. I just click my remote and keep writing. If your writer is wearing fingerless gloves to type on his keyboard, he might just dig a space heater.
This unobtrusive device is indispensable if you transcribe from paper to your computer. Page Up simply holds pages of paper upright in its slot so you can easily look from the paper to your computer screen. It’s great for notes, research, and random ideas that you’ve jotted down on paper. My desktop is minimalistic, yet my Page Up is always on it.
Fitdesk standing desk
This year the folks at one of my favorite companies, Fitdesk, came up with a new product – the Fitdesk standing desk. Writers spend a lot of time at our desks. If we spent some of that time standing, we would reap amazing health benefits. Check this out. In a 2013 study by the University of Chester, researchers found using a standing desk caused the heart to beat 10 bpm more than sitting at a desk. They extrapolated that this extra 10 bpm heartrate equated to 50 extra calories burned per hour. If a writer stood three hours a day, she would burn an extra 750 calories per week – and still get her writing done! Pretty awesome. However, buying a completely separate desk for standing can be expensive and cumbersome.
Enter the Fitdesk standing desk. It’s portable. It’s designed to set on any desktop or even a tabletop, converting furniture you already own into a standing desk. If your writer has been thinking about switching to a standing desk or losing some weight, the Fitdesk standing desk might just be the perfect solution.
Plus, this Fitdesk standing desk can also be used as a lap desk! And speaking of lap desks…
If your favorite writer likes to write on the couch, in a chair, just about anywhere – he might like a lap desk. Lap desks are flat surfaces that fit perfectly in your lap and often have padded undersides. Some even have fans that cool off your laptop so it never overheats on your lap. Pretty cool, huh? There are many variations on a theme when it comes to lap desks. I think the Fitdesk standing desk is smart because it doubles as a lap desk. Its versatility means your favorite writer can stand or sit depending on his writing flow.
I have raved about my Fitdesk in other posts. It’s still one of my favorite Christmas presents. Compact and quiet, the Fitdesk delivers a great workout while letting you write, surf the internet, catch up on your social networking, or watch videos. You just put your laptop on the bolster, strap it down with the velcro secure strap, and pedal.
The Fitdesk features a digital resistance meter, which tracks your speed, resistance, mileage, and time. Plus, the Fitdesk folds up so you can stash it in a closet if you like. This also makes it very portable. I’ve had several pieces of fitness equipment in my home, including a Nordic Track ski machine and an elliptical. My Fitdesk is by far my favorite because of its convenience and multitasking functionality. I love it.
Subscription to IMDB Pro
Your favorite writer should already know about the Internet Movie Database or IMDB. IMDB has a subscription service called IMDB Pro, which gives subscribers access to even more information. I subscribe to IMDB Pro and use their services frequently. It’s great to look up a production company address or agency client lists. Lots of subscribers use IMDB Pro like they used to use the Hollywood Creative Directory, which unfortunately went out of business.
iPad Air and iPad mini
Looking for that “wow” gift? Check out the iPad Air and iPad mini. Both have the wow factor. I own the iPad with the Retina display and love it! It’s great for reading tons of scripts and novels as well as surfing the internet. I also have the Final Draft app for the iPad, so I write on mine, too. It is wonderful to travel with just an iPad and a portable keyboard. Speaking of portable keyboards…
I have the Apple bluetooth enabled keyboard for my iPad. It gives me the ease of a full sized keyboard without the hassle of lugging my laptop around. Plus, I find having the iPad and keyboard separate, and therefore adjustable, makes writing on airplanes more comfortable.
These Aeron mesh chairs are the chair of choice for most TV writers rooms. They’re comfortable and adjustable. They do cost a chunk a change. However, a dedicated writer will be logging hours in her desk chair. Having an ergonomically sound one may prevent back, shoulder, and neck issues down the line.
Does your favorite writer want to lose weight and/or improve his health? Then the Fitbit One might just be the gift that keeps on giving throughout 2014. As I mentioned, we writers tend to sit a lot. It’s how we churn out our pages. However, a sedentary lifestyle wreaks havoc on our health. Enter the Fitbit One. Monitoring my daily steps and flights of stairs motivates me to keep moving throughout the day.
Last year I wrote about the original Fitbit; then Santa brought me a Fitbit One. It’s a little sleeker than the Fitbit. It also has a better, more flexible clip device. It’s easy to conceal beneath your clothes, even a little black dress. If you see me out and about, I’m likely wearing my Fitbit One. Plus, the Fitbit One has a better wrist sleeve for sleep monitoring. I love knowing my sleep stats. I highly recommend the Fitbit One, especially if your writer has health improvement goals for 2014.
Business cards from moo.com
Need business cards? Need cool business cards? Click on over to moo.com. They have a wide selection of business card designs that will make your favorite writer’s cards stand out. I love my business cards from moo.com. Moo.com also has email gift certificates, which are perfect for those last-minute gifts.
Some things you just want, not because you need them, but because they’re cool. The f-bomb paperweight by Fred Conlon is one of those things. I saw it. I laughed out loud. I wanted it. Your writer might appreciate you dropping an f-bomb in her stocking.
Hollywood is a fickle mistress. You need to celebrate major and minor accomplishments or you’re likely to forget all the good stuff when the stressful stuff starts flooding in. If you haven’t already, establish a tradition to celebrate finishing screenplays, getting big meetings, winning awards, landing representation, selling projects, finishing principal photography, finishing post-production, airing your first episode of TV, screening your film, etc. Establish that tradition now and never let it go.
As you know, I’m partial to raising a glass at momentous occasions. Champagne flutes to toast the best of times would be a lovely gift for your favorite writer. They also demonstrate your faith there will be cause for celebration in the future. An elegant dessert dish may be the perfect gift for the writer who loves ice cream or sweets. Hiking boots might be awesome for the writer who loves to climb to the top. A picnic basket holds the promise of a relaxing afternoon with loved ones. You know your favorite writer best. Think of how he or she would like to mark the good times. Remember, celebrating accomplishments helps keep your glass half-full.
Post-its, note cards, or quirky office supplies
I use Post-its like there is no tomorrow. I’m partial to the small 1 3/8 x 1 7/8 inch Post-its. They’re perfect for those little notes to myself about my page count, word count, scene fixes, to-do lists, etc. Heck, I even break story with the suckers. They’re indispensable to me. Find out if your writer likes Post-its, note cards, or some other quirky office supply, then stock him up on his favorite, indispensable writing supply.
Last year I listed writing books I read every year. This year I thought I’d list a couple of books I’ve read, referenced, or want this year. Your writer might appreciate having them on hand.
The Most of Nora Ephron
The Most of Nora Ephron is on my Christmas wish list. To have the late, great, beloved Nora Ephron’s work compiled in one tome is such a treasure. In this way, she is still with us sharing her wit, wisdom, and worldview. Many of her essays, her novel Heartburn, and her touchstone screenplay When Harry Met Sally are gathered here for your favorite writer’s enjoyment. Plus, Nora graciously wrote us an essay on “What I’ll Miss Most.” We miss you, Nora! I just wish someone would find the lost screenplays of Nora Ephron. We all have those orphaned scripts in our proverbial desk drawer. I imagine Nora’s are all gems.
Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business
Have you been wondering why Hollywood keeps making sequels? Why are we making movies based on board games? If you’ve found yourself saying, “Hollywood should really stop doing ‘x’ and start doing ‘y,’’ you might find Sleepless in Hollywood a fascinating read. Veteran producer Lynda Obst (Sleepless in Seattle, Contact, Hot in Cleveland) examines the new abnormal in Hollywood. She writes with sharp wit as well as deep love about the current state of our movie business. This is a must read for anyone thinking about making career in Hollywood today.
Hollywood Game Plan
If your favorite writer is thinking of making a career in Hollywood today, you also might want to pick up Carole Kirschner’s book, Hollywood Game Plan. She gives readers a clear vision of what it takes to make it in show business today. She outlines specific steps to get you to where you want to be. I suggest it for all Hollywood hopefuls.
The Kick-Ass Writer
Is your favorite writer looking for a useful yet entertaining book on writing? If he doesn’t mind a little expressive (read adult) language, Chuck Wendig’s The Kick-Ass Writer might just rock his world. It’s chock full of writing advice in Chuck’s vivid voice. Written in list format, it’s easy to pick up and sample when you need a little guidance or procrastination.
Gift cards and certificates
Amazon has everything. Need a research book on druids – check Amazon. Need a new desk lamp – check Amazon. Need to watch the first season of Orphan Black – of course you do – check Amazon. Need a quick, greatly appreciated gift for your writer – Amazon, check.
I’m a HUGE audible.com fan. I write every day. I also need to read every day because I’m often considering novels for development. Listening to a novel helps me immensely. If I’m listening to a book, I can do my household chores, get my exercise, etc. while continuing to work. Plus, I’m a very oral writer. Hearing the rhythms of the writing helps me remember the work a bit better than just reading it. If I’m adapting a novel, I’ll go back and forth between the print and audible versions. I like to immerse myself in the book so it’s constantly on my mind. I’ll even go to sleep with it playing on my iPod touch.
I’m an audible.com fan because audible.com maintains your library and you can download any book you’ve ever purchased from them again and again and again. If you get a new iPod or if something happens to your computer library, no worries; you can just download your audiobooks from audible.com again. Plus, you can use the WhisperSync option. If you buy the e-book and the narration, you can switch between reading and listening without losing your place. You can also do immersion reading where you’re reading and listening to the narration at the same time.
If your favorite writer isn’t already hooked on audiobooks, you could broaden her world with an audible.com gift certificate. And if your favorite writer already loves audiobooks, she’ll appreciate getting to pick out a new treasure.
Starbucks, Coffee Bean, or fav coffee house
It’s a cliché because it’s true; writers often hang out in coffee shops. Some writers write in coffee shops. Others procrastinate. Still others meet people at coffee houses to talk about writing. I fall into this latter category. And as uninspired as it might feel on the giver’s part, I know I’ve appreciated and used all the Starbuck’s cards I’ve ever been given. It’s just nice to whip out that card and have a non-fat hot chocolate, no whip gifted by a dear, thoughtful friend. Find out if your writer likes to hang out at a particular coffee house and give her some free java.
We writers sit hunched over our keyboards for hours. It’s not good for our posture. While we might need a massage, we’re probably one of those demos least likely to splurge on a massage. Have you ever heard of an overly pampered writer? Okay, outside of Hollywood? I didn’t think so. Treat your favorite writer to a spa day. Give her a gift certificate for an awesome massage with hot stones, please. Your favorite writer will likely save this gift certificate for that special day when she writes “fade out” and just wants to chill out.
Like, positive comment, positive review
The next item on my list doesn’t cost money. It’s your thumbs up. Your favorite writer may be launching his website or Facebook page. She might be publishing a novel. He might be mounting a play. Your “like” could be the tipping point for the success of your favorite writer’s next endeavor. Your positive comment or review could spur others on to support your favorite writer.
I want to highlight this is your favorite writer. I’m not suggesting you write a positive review for a play you didn’t think was great. But if you were moved by your favorite writer’s work, TELL people! If nothing else, TELL the writer. You have no idea what a kind, positive word means to a writer. We struggle alone, sometimes in the dark, in our grubby sweatpants, drinking can after can of Diet Coke so we can affect people with our stories. We love feedback, especially positive feedback.
Best gift of all
From an iPad Air to a kind word, these are my picks for the best gifts for writers. I hope you find something wonderful for your someone special. This is a good time to recognize the best gift of all – you. Your favorite writer is very lucky to have you in her life. The sheer fact that you’ve read this entire list searching for the best gift demonstrates your support is the best gift your writer could receive. So many writers feel the burn of rejection, not just from the industry but from those closest to them. They are told to get a real job, to grow up, to give up their dreams. But your favorite writer is hearing a very different message from you. Your support is more valuable than all of these gifts combined.
I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. I’m incredibly blessed to have loved ones who have supported my dreams from the beginning. You, dear reader, deserve recognition for being a writer’s supporter. Thank you for encouraging an artist to pursue his dreams. Have a wonderful holiday season and know you’re giving a gift year round.