because money isn’t everything
We all have an innate desire to make a difference, to make an impact, to be seen, to be heard, to leave behind something better than what we’re brought into.
Christmas may be a distant memory, but there’s no wrong time to give a gift. And there are always birthdays, anniversaries, and random Thursdays to celebrate. If you want to treat a writer in your life, or even if the writer is you, here are some generous gift ideas that go beyond another fancy notebook.
Money Money Money
You can find some free resources for writers here. But if you’re feeling generous or the occasion demands a bigger splash, try these.
- Essential Hardware
The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.
A new laptop or phone tops this wishlist, but a more affordable choice is external storage. Backup that work in extra paid cloud storage or an external hard drive.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a luxury, but the joy of being able to choose your own sound environment can’t be overstated.
- Specialist Software
My writing process hasn’t changed… A lot of reading, a lot of research if the subject warrants it, a lot of sticky notes and scraps of paper…
While excellent free options exist, programs such as Scrivener and of course Microsoft Word offer more sophisticated ways to organise words at varying prices. Screenwriters will appreciate something like Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter.
- More Books
The more that you read, the more you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
Any writer worth their salt has a pile of books waiting to be read, whether digital or physical (or both.) That doesn’t mean a few more wouldn’t be welcome.
Ask your writer which craft books they’d like and what genre they write in, then buy one or two best sellers from each list. Reading their competition will help them refine their own voice.
I prefer physical reference books though ebooks are a great alternative for fiction. Yes, you could give a gift voucher but there’s no thrilling parcel to unwrap.
Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.
No serious writer would turn down a ticket for a conference or writing retreat. Local options can be affordable, and if you want to push the boat out there are luxury options in beautiful places both at home and abroad.
These events are opportunities to meet other writers and network with people in the publishing world. Some people find agents and editors, but time to concentrate on writing and talk with like-minded others is the big draw.
- Welcome to the Club
Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.
A subscription is the gift that keeps on giving. Consider Writer’s Digest, Writing Magazine, The New York Review of Books, among many others. Websites, print, and digital magazines cover every corner of the writing universe and offer contests, publication opportunities, and advice.
Not Available in Stores
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
Gift giving is fraught with social and individual expectation. We make many judgements when it comes to selecting a gift and measuring its success.
If we’re less well off, we feel that we can’t give what we don’t have. And if we’re well off, we can resent spending money we worked hard for. All these negative feelings sour both giving and receiving.
How about taking money out of the equation altogether?
Tangible gifts are welcome of course, but what humans crave is often something both simpler and more complex. You and I both want the same thing; we want to matter. We want to be heard and appreciated in some way. Here are some options for generous gifts for writers that don’t cost a penny.
The hardest part is making the time to write. Not finding the time to write, mind you. Making.
Carmen Agra Deedy
If you share a busy life with a writer, chances are they struggle finding enough time to write. Look at your schedules and figure out a slot that works for both of you. Put it in the planner and stick to it. And be prepared to take on the work that needs doing to make it happen, whether that’s taking over bathtime or walking the dog.
No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.
Maybe you don’t have room for a Pinterest-worthy writer’s study overflowing with books and a vintage typewriter. A corner of the spare bedroom or living room might have to do. Respect that space. Keep yours and the kids’ stuff off the table when it’s writing time.
Your writer needs space in time to attend a retreat or conference. Again this might mean you have to take up the slack in domestic chores. If you’re the writer, return the favour by trading chores and fun another time so you both get away. This works well for friends with children who need watching.
- Notice them in the world
I always worried someone would notice me, and then when no-one did, I felt lonely.
Buying a book? There’s a card for that, but interaction is priceless. Engage with your writer’s work in public. Write a positive review or comment, rate or clap their pieces, like their Facebook page, and sign up for their email list.
- Amplify their voice
Every human being is trying to say something to others. Trying to cry out I am alive, notice me! Speak to me! Conform that I am important, that I matter!!
Marion D. Hanks
Writers and creatives are often introverts who hate to be too visible, even as they want their work to be noticed. You can help by engaging with them on social media. Follow them, retweet them, talk about their work online and in person. We’re bombarded with so much information and choice that personal recommendation means more than ever.
- Acknowledgement is everything
The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.
We say it’s the thought that counts but it’s more than a cliche. The most important gift of all is acceptance. The person who describes themselves as a writer does so after much soul-searching and doubt. Allowing them to claim that identity, without mockery or dismissiveness, is a precious gift.
Enthusiasm and genuine curiosity in asking about their work will be remembered and appreciated long after the conversation is over.
Give A Little More
We all have the ability to make someone’s life better. If you have plenty of resources, or your donor does, appreciate your good fortune and choose something to move your work forward. But the intangibles, the things which are free but rarely given, are even more valuable.
Award gifts to yourself, to others, and remember what goes around comes around. Build good writing karma and give at least as good as you get.
Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous. We experience joy in the actual act of giving something. And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given.