Struggling to find a gift for the writer in your life as Christmas rapidly approaches? Or are you an author yourself, hounded by well-meaning relatives wanting to know how they can support your craft with material gifts? Well worry no more, we’re here to help!
We’ve wracked the brains of our authors to bring you all the inspiration you need, from stationery to island getaways, here’s what these writers want to find under the tree:
Gareth L Powell
author of Embers of War
My gift for a writer would be Being A Writer by Travis Elborough and Helen Gordon. It is a treasure chest of advice and musings on writing from a host of famous authors. A great book to flick through when you’re seeking inspiration.
Charlie Jane Anders
Author of The City in the Middle of the Night
There are a lot of great gifts you can get for the author in your life, ranging from a gift card at your local coffee place to (at the very high end) a fancy Herman Miller chair so your author friend can have less back pain while tapping away at their manuscript. But the thing I can't live without, and that I always love as a gift, is a fancy blank notebook. Writing longhand is a wonderful change of pace from typing on a computer, and a great way to get the ideas flowing in a different way. Plus you can just pull out your notebook any time an idea comes to you!
Author of The Cabin at the End of the World
I'm assuming these items are going to be purchased for me (hint! hint!) so I won't make you spend hundreds of dollars on typewriter keyboards or noise cancelling headphones. (Do they make people canceling headphones? Asking for a writer-friend who is a monster.) Let's get thrifty!
For many writers (me), their best ideas occur while in the shower. Usually it’s a race to a towel and a robe and then to a notebook before my goldfish brain forgets the greatest idea it ever had. The holiday solution for your writer friend (me): Aquanotes.
That’s a little too thrifty on its own, so let’s pair this with another gift. Every writer (again, me) is bound to get into a scrape or two with other writers (John Langan, to name your writer friend’s arch nemesis). Help your friend (me) prevail with panache with this handy chart of literary insults.
Author of The Hollow Tree
I love these story cubes. I use them in my teaching job, but they're also fun to have around as a writer - I wouldn't rely on them to generate an entire narrative, but the combinations of elements might jog your imagination into thinking of something that can write you out of a hole.
Author of The Migration
My recommendation is Hardback, a board game by Fowers Games. Hardback is a dynamic wordplay game based around writing a 19th century novel. It has all the best bits of Scrabble with none of the intense, ten-minute staring sessions. Perfect for dictionary lovers and strategists alike! My boyfriend – also a writer! – and I played it in our back garden or at the pub most days last summer.
Author of The Book of Hidden Things
When we say that writers write, we mostly mean, 'with a keyboard'. Yet there is also a sensuous dimension to writing, the immediate frisson of pen caressing paper in the real world. Besides, sometimes the words are all jumbled in your head. When that happens, you could stop typewriting, and do calligraphy instead: the words might still be jumbled, but at least they will look pretty. Buy Nib & Ink here.
Author of The Rig
1 - Two physical copies of Roget's Thesaurus, one up-to-date and one as ancient as you can find. They are brilliant sources not merely of language but of inspiration. A tip given to me and that I happily pass on is to look for words not just on the indexed page but on the opposing page. It sounds ridiculous, but try it.
2 - A copy of Emergency Kit; Poems for Strange Times, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney. This is a book brimful of imagination, support, thought, weirdness, fun and all-round fabulousness. There are all sorts of books to help you write, but if you add this book and your copies of Roget to the contents of your head, you are well set.
3 - A year's supply of exclamation marks (ten).
4 - A door sign saying 'Do not disturb except for coffee.'
5 - Another sign saying 'Nnnno mmore ccccoffffeee.'
Author of The Mermaid
How about a Book Nerd mug for the writer in your life? Every writer needs a container for their coffee, tea, or it's-really-the-last-revision wine (I don't judge). Out of Print has loads of awesome book-related goodies if you want to fill the whole stocking.
Author of The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School
Quite a bit of my writing time is spent faffing about at the desk while thinking vaguely… having something your hands can do while you ponder which doesn’t take up much brainspace is a big help for this essential, little-noticed part of the process. So my suggestion is a fidget toy – here’s a multi-purpose one which looks like a Dr Who villain from the 1960s.
Author of All My Colors
My ideal writer's gift, if the writer is me, would be a copy of Stephen King's On Writing because a) it's a great writing handbook b) it's a great autobiography and c) I lost my copy and can no longer write.
Author of Green Valley
The other half of my work is as a freelance proofreader and editor, and this year I decided I needed a new proofreading pen. I tried a selection of super-fine gel pens recommended in the forums of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and the Uni-ball Signo DX was my winner. A lovely crisp and smooth line in a hardy nib, with no smudging or wavering; it's available in various colours, but of course you'll want red! I'd recommend buying it from Cult Pens, an independent supplier that loves stationery. Modest pleasures can bring meaningful joy.
Author of The War in the Dark
A Holiday at GoldenEye. If you're dreaming up tales of intrigue, glamour and danger what could be more inspiring than a stay at the very place where Ian Fleming wrote the adventures of James Bond? Yes, it's pricey - but if you build an orbital laser and blackmail the leaders of the free world you'll soon find the readies.
Author of Madman Walking
I think my choice for a Christmas gift to a writer might be an ad-free subscription to a music streaming service, such as Pandora, where you can choose a station or playlist to suit whatever mood you're in. Sometimes, it adds a dimension to writing -- or for that matter, living -- to have your own soundtrack.
Author of Halcyon
A wonderful gift that any writer would be happy to find under the tree. Frame it, hang it in the library or study (or anywhere really; this is also a great bathroom or bedroom decoration). Attractive, yes, but useful, too. Never get caught out again by those tricky, common issues that bedevil many writers (lay vs lie - ugh). Couple with a decent bottle of wine for extra Christmas brownie points.
Author of The Synapse Sequence
It’s often said that the key to good writing is to read a lot – and that’s true, but shouldn’t necessarily be limited to fiction in the genre in which you’re writing. I read a lot of non-fiction (particularly history), but also subscribe to various magazines to keep me up to date. So, if you’re a writer, think about a subscription to a magazine that’s in your field of interest: whether it be science and technology, history, sport or lifestyle. It will get those ideas flowing!
Author of Strange Ink
Christmas is summer-time in Australia so there’s nothing quite like a cold beer after a sweaty writing session. One of my faves at the moment is Kaiju Aftermath DIPA. It’s packed with hoppy flavour and really packs a punch.
Author of The Arrival of Missives
This is my favourite cure for writer's block. Whenever I'm stuck (which happens with suspicious regularity at 11am every morning) I make a cup of strong coffee and eat a little bit of Sea Dog, and that's enough of a boost to get me writing again. I'm hoping to find a fair amount of this in my stocking at Christmas to get me through January.
Sarah Maria Griffin
Author of Spare and Found Parts
Look at this extremely uncool present. I’m almost disappointed in myself, but if it stops me rupturing a disc in my lower back again, I’ll take it. Dear Santa, I can’t write if my back is busted up, so hit up a girl with a decent chair, yeah? I mean in an ideal world it would be white leather and minimalist as well as not injury inducing, but I’ll take an ugly one that improves my posture for now. (I currently write like Princess and The Pea style sitting on about eight cushions and I don’t think it’s helping). Come on, Santa, you know what’s good.
If I’m going to be out here burning the midnight oil, I’d prefer it to be Gucci oil.
(This is a joke. I like candles. I light candles when I work at home to feel a bit more connected. I’d take one out of Primark, equally, as long as it doesn’t smell like vanilla.) (Could you literally imagine buying this candle? Who buys this candle? It is 300 euro. For a candle. You think the light it gives the room is better than Primark candlelight?)
3. Two More Hours In Every Day.
This isn’t... a thing I can have, right? We can’t just push it out to 26 hours, just for next year, no? Santa? Help me out here?
The best travel experience of my working life has been to an empty hotel in Albufiera, in the off-season. I read the most there, I wrote the most there, I drank a bunch of 5 quid daiquiris there and they all had little umbrellas in them. It might look like I’m not working when I’m taking Instagrams of my unsightly, pale legs in the hot sun under the blue sky – but trust. All that vitamin D translates straight to new ideas. All very efficient, productive – and the photos are real pleasant, too.
Author of Relics
*WARNING: Colourful language ahead!*
I've never found writing a lonely business, but it is a tough one, and it can be mentally draining. That's why your brain needs fuel, and the greatest fuel I've found––my petrol, my Nitrous Oxide, my Kryptonite––is coffee. I'm not saying I'm addicted, but if I go through a day without coffee I tend to be a bit ... cranky? I stick to two or three cups of the good stuff daily, and sometimes when the project is particularly challenging, the chapter I'm working on just a bit twisty and complex and skipping out of my grasp, I need something extra-special. Like this.
Author of Hallowdene
The Freewrite is the perfect gift for a writer because of its back-to-basics, no nonsense approach. Shunning all fancy bells and whistles, it’s essentially a modern iteration of the typewriter, designed to aid forward momentum in drafting, with no apps, email, Twitter or Facebook to throw you off your stride. All you can do on it is write, but unlike a classic typewriter it syncs everything you write into Dropbox or Google Drive for easy editing later. There’s a fully fledged typewriter sized model available now, and a small, portable ‘Traveler’ edition coming soon.