I have a birthday coming up (just saying), and I predict that I will receive at least two beautiful, handmade journals…which I will never write in. Most writers don’t need notebooks, or coffee mugs with literary quotes, or novelty pens, or book-related tchotchkes of any sort. Here are thirteen things we might actually use:
A bathrobe. Writers are going to work in their pajamas anyway; might as well be nice pajamas.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. A perennial favorite, Lamott’s guide to writing is a lovely, funny, helpful book which should be on ever writer’s shelf.
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. Fogarty’s immensely helpful and popular website is my go-to source for grammar answers. All of her books are great, but this one is my favorite.
Subscription to The Chicago Manual of Style. Sure, there are free resources out there, but writers know that the only real way to kick it is Chicago-style. The print edition is nice, but the online subscription ensures that they always have access to the latest word on words.
Pack of Pilot Precise rollerball pens. I don’t often write longhand, but when I do, I use a black needlepoint Pilot Precise V5 Needle Rollerball Pen. Seriously, these are the best pens.
Coffee shop giftcard. Writers tend to run on caffeine and/or alcohol. A giftcard to your writer’s favorite coffee shop will help keep him alert & productive–plus he’ll have to put on pants and leave the house to get the coffee.
A healthy meal. Writers are usually poor, and, left to our devices, we’ll subsist on caffeinated beverages and junk food. Take your writer out and make him eat at least two vegetables and six ounces of protein.
Deck of Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” Brian Eno (pioneer of ambient music, former member of Roxy Music, producer of many of your favorite albums, and the guy who composed this familiar sound) created this weird little deck of cards designed to help creative people move past blocks.
Comfy desk chair. Writers spend more time in their desk chairs than in their beds. A nice, comfy chair makes all the difference.
Laptop. Hey, big spender. If your writer-friend doesn’t already have a laptop dedicated to writing, consider taking her down to the store to pick one out.
A weekend away. Chances are good that your writer hasn’t left the house in a while. Take him or her to the seaside or the mountains for a weekend–and make sure the laptop stays at home.