Two years ago, I wrote a list of gifts that don’t suck for the struggling novelist in your life. I figured it was time to upgrade the list to include some cheaper options. How many chiropractor packages can one novelist receive?
Whether it’s your life partner, your best friend, or a coworker that you don’t hate, maybe you’ll find something here for your last-minute holiday (or birthday or whatever) needs that will brighten the day of the struggling writer in your life. Though, as I mentioned in 2013: Nothing says “I acknowledge that you’re a real writer” more than a crafty little bucket of Booze and Pills. No need to get fancy. Malbec and Advil PM in a CVS bag will do.
Package of chiropractor visits
No, seriously. A novelist can never have too many visits to the chiropractor. We have text neck from constantly checking our phones to see if there’s good news in our inboxes. We slump over laptops and books. Anytime I feel stress, my shoulders inevitably end up close to my earlobes, creating pain all the way down the right side of my head to the middle of my right shoulder. Don’t get me wrong, massages are great and super relaxing (unless the person talks or tries to perform reiki on me, both are unacceptable). But years of massages never removed the pain. Ten visits to a chiropractor did. I don’t have pain anymore. I’m a convert. Your writer will thank you.
Multi-colored Sharpie Highlighters
Pens and pencils? BORING. You can steal pens off of any desk anywhere. They give them away free at parades and banks and the Welcome Student tables around town on move-in day at colleges. You know what’s harder to steal from people? A really good highlighter. Trust me. I’ve tried. Level up from boring pens and pencils and purchase these highly affordable and mega-amazing multi-colored Sharpie Accent Retractable Pocket Highlighters. Chisel Tip! Assorted Colors! Push button vs. a cap that your cats will inevitably steal and you’ll never see again! These are truly the Cadillac of highlighters. I use them to mark up my shitty first (and subsequent) drafts.
As with highlighters, multi-colored Post-Its are the best. We all need a bit more color in our lives, no? Post-Its are great for marking important pages to return to in the piles of books that we use for research. In addition to highlighters, I use Post-Its to mark the pages of my printed manuscript that require my attention during revision. When I’ve completed the revision, I pull off the Post-It and put it in a pile. At the end of a revision, my pile makes me feel successful:
Two years ago, I mentioned that a book full of blank pages is a cruel gift for a writer because a blank page is terrifying. But I’ve revised my thinking since then. I still don’t write my novels in long-hand because I don’t live in the 18th century (settle down, purists) and can’t write as fast as my brain thinks. But I use a Moleskine notebook to keep track of all of my novel ideas, outlines, beat sheets, and novel To Dos, which are separate from my Daily To Dos.
Of course, you could go out and buy any nice notebook. But Moleskine are sturdy and feel great in your hands (these things matter — at our recent book club, we all touched and swooned over the feel of the pages in the hardcover version of The Bone Clocks. They feel so niiiiiiice.). I’m a fan of the no-frills, basic Black Ruled Notebook. It makes all those other colorful tools I’m prone to stand out even more.
Gift card to an indie bookstore
Your author friends want the local bookstore to still be kicking when their books (fingers crossed) hit the shelves. That’s where they’ll want to have their first reading with you and all of their supportive friends. What better way to ensure the bookstore’s survival than with a gift card? If you’re not sure that an indie bookseller exists near you thanks to the megastores, check out this store finder from Indie Bound.
I put in my parents’ address. They live in the middle of nowhere Arkansas. There’s an indie store within 50 miles of them. So there MUST be an indie store near you. Shop local.
Fun things that will make the writer laugh (maybe, it depends on how distraught they are)
If the writer in your life is having a particularly difficult time, the Adam J.K. Gift Shop will probably meet your every need. Here are some of my favorite gifts:
For the writer who can’t talk about it right now:
For the writer who keeps getting rejected:
And my favorite, for all of the feelings:
The gift of time
Gifts are fun! But the cheapest and most thoughtful gift you can give the writer in your life is the gift of time. There’s a lot of guilt associated with being a writer. We have word counts and deadlines to hit. There’s never enough time to hit them without feeling like we’re neglecting friends and family and jobs (I don’t mind neglecting a job, but I don’t because I need food and shelter and chiropractor visits). This could be as simple as letting them off the hook for plans — cancellations or otherwise. If they have kids, you could offer to babysit them while the writer heads to the coffee shop or the upstairs office or some other location where they can write without the burden of household duties. The goal is to give them time to write without guilt.
Whatever you pick, I’m sure it will be fine. Really. Writers aren’t picky at all.