Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Gifts for Writers by Fran Hodgkins

It’s getting to be that time of year, and you as a writer may be fielding the question “What do you want for the holidays?” or you may have writer friends that you want to give a special, writing-related gift to. While contracts and agent services are notoriously hard to wrap, here’s a list of ideas that will keep on giving throughout 2024!



Notebooks. Of course I start with notebooks. Every writer has a secret stash, but you can never have enough, can you? Some of my personal favorites include Cognitive Surplus, which are science-themed and come in an astounding array of formats, from wee little Observation, just perfect for the pocket (which attracts less attention as you eavesdrop on strangers do research) to the Science Lab notebook, which is 9.25 x 11.25. The covers depict different scientific disciplines, which you can stretch to non-scientific writers with a little imagination. got a language lover? Try linguistics! A gardener? Botany! Check out notebooks, mugs, and other fun stuff here.


You may have seen them, odd-looking notebooks books that are bound with plastic disks. The disks let you move pages around to your heart’s content. Ideal for your favorite non-linear thinker. Disk-bound notebooks are available from a variety of places, including Staples, Happy Planner, and Levenger. Different sizes, formats (lined, dot grid, grid), and orientations are available. So are punches so you can make your own task pages or add a printed document to your notebook. Very handy. (Levenger is also a source of elegant ballpoint, rollerball and fountain pens from manufacturers such as Conklin, Sheaffer, Cross, Parker,Lamy, and Montblanc. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)


Pencils: What good is an awesome notebook without something to write with? There are lots of fantastic writing implements out there, but I’m going to share a few favorites.


Musgrave Pencil is located in Shelbyville, TN, and has been making pencils for nigh on a century. Pick up their heritage collection of specialty pencils, or one of their sets in beautiful cedar boxes. They’ve also got notebooks, sharpeners, shirts, and hats. Explore this historic company here.


A favorite of many illustrators, Blackwing pencils provide a distinct line and are so smooth! These pencils have distinctive rectangular erasers that can be replaced by pulling out the metal clip that holds the eraser and popping in a new one. Blackwing also  has  notebooks, pencil sharpeners, and even metal tip protectors. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest the Audition Pack, a set that includes the four pencils Blackwing features. Check them all out here.


Books. What writer doesn’t need more books? Well, none of us, really, but hey, come on. Some excellent choices for writers include:

  • Bird by Bird, by Annie Lamott
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
  • The Artist’s Way and related works by Julia Cameron.
  • On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
  • Line by Line, by Claire Kehrwald Cook (this title came out in the 1980s, but I find it has an immediate impact on my work every time I read it.
  • The Save the Cat books, including the original book on screenwriting by Blake Snyder and Save the Cat Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. These books will get you thinking about structure in a whole different way! 

Thesauruses are helpful when you just can't think of the right word. A new favorite of mine is the Emotion Thesaurus (thanks, Weezie and Sue!). It not only defines emotions, but also provides physical signs and behaviors. Available in hard copy, ebook, PDF, and as an online subscription that can be bought for a month, six months, or a year. 

The website is a treasure trove of information, too; visit

to learn more.

You can get any of these print titles from your helpful and best-beloved indie bookstore!


A break. If the writer in your life needs time and space to finish (or start) their work, consider giving them a break – literally! You can book them a hotel room that will give them peace and privacy, and a chance to concentrate. Bonus points if your writer can order room service, and if the hotel has a gym in order to work out frustrations.


A bigger break. Related to the above is the gift of a writer’s retreat. The retreat can be paired with a class, such as those offered by the Highlights Foundation. The advantage of the “bigger break” gift, versus the weekend at a hotel, is that your writer will be able to meet and socialize with other writers, should they choose to do so!


An online class. If the writer in your life can’t travel (or doesn’t want to), an online class will let them learn more about their craft. Online course providers include Coursera, which offers classes from universities around the world; the Gotham Writers Workshop, and Writer’s Digest University. You will find a variety of topics and a range of prices. They can last just an hour up to a full year.


Fingerless gloves. I love my fingerless gloves, and in fact am wearing them as I write this. I find that they keep my hands and wrists warm (I’m lookin’ at you, Maine in November!), and I’m less achy at the end of the day. Some have half fingers, others none. Some go all the way up to the elbow, and beyond! As with the other gift ideas, you can go from basic (around $6) to fabulous (cashmere, for about $100).


Help. Is your writer on deadline? Help is always welcome. We sometimes forget to eat, so meal delivery is an idea, as is the attention of a house cleaner. Okay, so these can't be wrapped, but they are great way to show the writer in your life that you support them.


Silence. Noise-cancelling headphones are an excellent choice, especially if your writer lives with other people. They may not cancel out the roar of everyday life, but they certainly tone it down a lot! These headphones are available from a variety of makers, Bose, Apple, and Anker. Prices range from $40 to $400.


The gift that keeps on giving. One gift you can give is a positive review! Amazon reviews are important. If you’ve bought your writer’s book, leave them a starred review!

1 comment:

  1. Pencils and notebooks! Writing books! but best of all, the gift of time - what a great list of gifts for your favorite writers.