Gifts for Writers

Writers are like Black Sheep. Everyone knows a writer. In the family, a friend, a giftkooky coworker… we’re common. And in one way or another, we’re all loved. That means with the holidays screaming around the corner, everyone has a writer for whom they need to buy at least a small gift. Here are some gift suggestions for writers (including ones to avoid).

Paper – Reams and reams of it. Because we go through that much. Either for brainstorming, rough drafts, character sketching, revisions (*raises hand*) or querying. We use a lot of it.

Ink – See paper. (With one caveat: it is essential to know the kind of printer the writer has, of course).

Coffee – Most writers need this fully stocked in IV bags. But don’t get them needles- that requires a prescription.

Dragon Dictate Software – For writers on the go, moving around a lot, this dragonwill help. You’ll need to find out if they have a PC or Mac. Downside: it’s a bit pricey.

scrivenerSrivener A fantastic new software that most writers love, no matter what they write (fiction or non fiction).

Pens – Like paper and ink, we use these a lot, and therefore run out of ink in the middle of jotting down a great idea, and then chuck the pen across the room, chipping our favorite coffee mug while we desperately search for lipstick or marker to write down said-great-idea before we lose it.

Coffee Mugs – To Replace said-broken-mug from above.

 The Latest Edition of Writer’s Market – This may be baffling for those of you who are not in publishing, but this is the first step to a golden ticket in the Willy Wonka’s Factory of Publishing.

Elements of Style from Strunk & White  – See note above.

Books – Duh. Bonus points for knowing which genre they prefer, but they’ll pretty much take anything. Especially books on writing or autobiographies from serious writers. (FYI- Snooki’s recent book does not count).

Comfy Clothes – Any funny shirt or pants specific for writers. There are so writershirtmany websites offering screen-printed quotes on shirts like ‘Don’t Piss Me Off Or I’ll Kill You In My Novel’ or ‘Grammar Snob.’ We need something comfortable to write in and what better way to be motivated to write than to wear the reminder. CafePress has some great ones.

Slippers or Socks – See clothes. No writer can write with cold feet.

Computer Accessories – A laptop case, wireless mouse/keyboard, thumb drive. Again, helpful to know what kind of computer they have to make sure the case fits. But a thumb drive is universal. As are screen cleaners and cans of air to blast out the dust from our keyboards.

The Writer’s Block – Nuff said.writersblock

Lap Table – A bunch of different kinds, depending on whether they like classic wooden, or contemporary chic, or funky bumbo style. But a cup holder is essential.

Air Fresheners or Wickless Candles – For writers who spend hours sitting in one spot desperate to get the dialogue out of their brains, sometimes we tend to forget to shower. Something to mask the stench in the air is helpful (Scentsy is popular). But nothing that includes a flame where we’ll forget to blow it out and burn down our masterpieces.

Massage – To force us out of the house and relax our writing muscles. Spa gift cards are a great way to achieve this.

Magazine Subscription  – Writer’s Digest, Writer’s Journal, The Writer (any of these are precious jewels in the mailbox).

Don’t bother with these:

Journals – Every writer has a million of these shoved away in drawers and closets. Don’t add to their clutter. Plus, it’s a cliché. Lesson #1: all writers hate clichés.

Laptop – Come on! These are so freakin’ expensive, with way too many variables that are too personal to each individual writer. Unless you want to take them to the store to pick out their own, don’t do it. They’ll just end up exchanging it for something that suits their query personality more. It’s like women and shoes. We’re just too picky.

E-Readers – See laptop. Though gift cards to purchase e-books are good.

Thesaurus – Again, every write already has one. And every good writer knows not to use it.

Digital Voice Recorder – Every phone has something that meets this need. My iPhone came with 3 of them. And there’s about 30 more apps they can download for free.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas. Have a great holiday!

BackUp Your Life

Lightning is a highly visible form of energy t...

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Lightning strikes. Literally. And fries every single electronic item in your house/apartment/flat/bungalow/shanty. And the 85,000 word manuscript you’ve been working on for over a year, which you’ve foolishly only saved to your hard drive, is gone.

There’s no repairing a hard drive or motherboard when its been touched by lightning. Not even touched, but merely in the close vicinity of it.

Which is why this post is about advising, urging, demanding that you back up all of your files. And when I say backup your files, I don’t mean in several folders on the same computer. That’s just asking for Murphey’s law.

I mean on a completely separate electronic device, like an external storage device, or even emailing it every week to your mother, sister, brother, or best friend’s former roommate who doesn’t know what a manuscript is (but at least understands email).

My husband and I recently went through a similar scenario this week. Horrible lightning storms ripped through Texas, and one struck fairly close to our house. And while my laptop and his computer were safe, A LOT of our other electronic devices weren’t. Like our backup storage device. Completely caput.

I’m glad to say I wasn’t crying this week. My manuscripts are safe on my precious Macbook, and I’m smart enough to email my completed manuscripts and WIP’s to my mother. And often (every 2 or 3 weeks). Thanks, Mom!

But I can’t imagine the pain and anguish I would feel of losing one of my electronic ‘babies’ to an evil lightning strike that I can’t even swear at and pick a fight with later. And even if I could, it would definitely win with 10,000 amps and a trillion watts of energy. Losing what I’ve sweated and toiled over for countless hours would make me want to fire a gun into the next storm cloud that dare passes over my county. (A lot of good that would do!)

But that brings up an important question. Not just for writers, but for anyone who has precious files on their computers, like music, or wedding photos, baby videos of birth/first steps/ the iconic birthday cake all over the face shot, and other minor stuff like banking information and tax returns. What do you do if your backup fails? Like ours just did.

There’s a lot of new hype over online storage databases, where they charge $25-100/year to backup all your precious files however many times you wish and there’s no risk of losing it from mean Mother Nature or vicious criminals who love five-finger-discounts. I’ve never used them, but after this week, they’re looking more appealing.

Clearly I’m focusing on computer files. I haven’t touched the other electronics that we lost this week (phones, cable boxes, alarm sensors, smoke detectors). Since I’m a writer and spend most of my time on the computer, that’s where my focus is. But wherever your most important electronic factors in your life are, make sure it’s backed up. Somehow.

At the end of the day, none of my family was hurt, our house wasn’t burned down, and the sun will rise again. That’s the best part. But if you’re able, back up your life.

Now I’m off to get ready for the next set of storms.