We’re getting down to the wire, folks! Christmas is less than one week away. Panicking about what to get your writer friend? Or maybe you’re wanting something for yourself to change up your routine; it’s a good idea to add a new tool to that writer’s toolbox in 2016. Check out the following products, all of which I’ve personally used and can vouch for. Note: I wasn’t paid to promote any of the following products—trust that I’m unbiased in my assessments.
If there were glasses out there that enabled you to work longer at the comptuer without eyestrain and headaches, would you try them? It may sound like I’m trying to sell you snake oil, but I promise that’s not the case. Like many others, I spend hours in front of the computer on a daily basis. I write all morning, tech edit in the afternoon, and often do Embers-related work in the evening. The result? Eyestrain, headaches, and dizziness. Sometimes it’s so bad I can’t keep working. My husband David is a software engineer and avid PC gamer, so he shares my problem. A few months ago, he heard about these glasses from a company called Gunnar. I was skeptical at first, especially when I saw the price tag. But we needed to try something. We each ordered a pair and I’m so glad we did. I can work without pain or discomfort all day. The glasses take some getting used to, especially if you get the yellow tinted lenses (the typical Gunnar lens). But I kid you not—over eight hours on the computer and no pain. If you indulge in hours of screen time every day, I encourage you to make the investment in a pair of Gunnars. You can get them for as low as $70. You can even get them with prescription lenses. Bite the bullet and save your eyes or the eyes of your favorite writer!
If you’re not a huge fan of MS Word, or you constantly hear complaints from your writer buddy about how dumb and limited Word is, I suggest you look into Scrivener. It’s a program designed for writers specifically, as opposed to the one-size-fits-all tool that is MS Word. Their website promises it will help you “create order from chaos,” giving you the ability to document your research, outline your novel from parts to chapters to scenes, and keep detailed notes on just about anything. I really appreciate the program for its planning capabilities, using it primarily to outline, make character profiles, etc. I’m not as big of a fan of actually composing my manuscript in the program. I’m the first to admit that Word has a bunch of quirks and questionable design features, but still, I’m attached to it as a whole. It’s probably because I’ve been writing in Word since I was a kid and making the switch to something entirely different in look and feel is a little tough for me. But Scrivener could be perfect for you. Get it for Mac or Windows for $45. You can also do a free trial, and if you’re a student, you get a discount from the full price version.
Subscription to Poets & Writers and/or Writer’s Digest
Do you sometimes find yourself politely nodding along during conversations with your writing loved one? Does their analysis of the popular writer of the day’s style or their concerns about e-publishing go over your head? Then get them a subscription to a magazine that covers everything from finding an agent to calls for submissions. Bless them with information about their industry and tools for success. You can get a year of Poets & Writers for $15.95 and a subscription to Writer’s Digest for $19.96. Or, if getting things in the mail doesn’t make your writer buddy giddy, you can get the digital version of Writer’s Digest for just $9.96.
Because duh. On the practical side, consider Writer’s Market (2016 edition) or a fancy dictionary/thesaurus; these are perfect for those who take writing and making it a career seriously. Nonfiction lover? I suggest Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro and On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. We writers often feel like we’re all alone, living this bizarre creative life, and books by other writers about writing can nourish our souls. On the less practical side, any fiction, poetry, etc. that encourages relaxation and inspiration is a winner.
Miscellaneous Writing Paraphernalia
Nice pens: An awful lot of us still love writing by hand, and a smooth, lovely pen gives us a little thrill. Trust me on this. I have several friends who are very territorial over their pens. It’s almost spiritual.
Pretty notebooks: We’re used to getting these as gifts, but hey, who cares about originality? I love to stock up on notebooks—spirals, Moleskines, embossed leather works of art. I have a pile of them, and I don’t mind it growing. I’d bet most writers have a similar appreciation for fresh paper.
Coffee: We often run on this. Give your writer whole beans, instant coffee, Starbucks gift cards, coffee-flavored chocolate—all of the above tucked into a lovely, literature-themed mug (like this one)! But seriously. Coffee.
Of course, all of these amazing gifts can’t replace the heart and soul of Christmas, which is the eternal, miraculous love of God. So enjoy spoiling your writer, but spoil them with love above all.
By Madeleine Mozley