Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 Gifts for Writers

Yes, I know the gift-giving season doesn’t officially start until next month. Think of this list as a handy-dandy helper to hand out to others if they want to indulge in a spot of spontaneous gifting. I grant you, however, that handing out a list does somewhat negate the ‘spontaneous’ aspect. Ah well.

10. Paper. I am aware that most writers do their actual writing on some sort of computer, but I assure you that crumpling up a piece of paper and hurling it in the direction of a recycle basket is a far more emotionally gratifying experience than hitting the delete button. Thumping your desk with your fist raises the satisfaction level.

9. Pens. This summer I spent a large amount of time writing with a pen which resulted in scattered ink stains on my hands. These stains made me feel, in an odd way, like a real writer. It was literally my work leaving its mark on me. Try it. Of course, it may help if (like me) you're writing in the shadow of the Globe Theatre in London.

8. Snacks One Can Devour with One Hand. Eating and writing. Win-win.

7. Crumb-free Snacks. If you’ve ever had to clean out your keyboard, you’ll agree with me. You want a keyboard that goes ‘click-click’ not ‘crunch-crunch’. Crunch-crunch is not a happy sound, unless you have pet dragons and even then, you have to worry over what is crunch-crunching. Sorry. I digress.

6. Beverages. I leave the choice of beverage completely up to you and your spontaneous gifter, but I warn you liquids of the alcoholic variety may add to your word count, but not in a good way. Or maybe that’s just me.

5. Someone (be they two or four legged) to bring you the above-mentioned snacks and beverages. No true artist should be disturbed while communing with their muse! Or, more likely, muttering ‘just 500 more words, dammit, and I’ll have my word count for today.’

4. Bookcase. Any writer needs shelves dedicated to writing. It’s up to you how to fill them. Some writers like ‘how-to’ books - the more the merrier. I am not some of this some. My shelves are filled with historical sources and picture books. And yes, there might be some snacks there too.

3. Clock. Of course a clock is useful for those ten minute or one hour word sprints, but it also allows you to discover exactly how long you just spent on the internet ‘researching’. I know how this goes. You start with a simple search for a thesaurus and end up some time later discovering the nesting habits of pheasants. You'll think you were only on the net for five minutes. Ha! 

2. A rich, effortless vocabulary. I am forced to use a thesaurus (alright, actually I have three), but it would be wonderful to think of the precise word myself. It might also avoid first drafts where I use the same word fifteen times in the same paragraph.

1. Instant creativity. When you have a limited time to write (what with life and all), having quality words appearing promptly would make for sunnier days. Think about it. You’re smiling at the thought, aren’t you?

So there it is. Let the spontaneous gifting commence!

Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her latest mystery game, "A Fatal Fairy Tale" was published in February. All her murder mystery games and two plays are available through She has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine Elias. She is on Twitter as @elspethwrites.

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  1. I love gifts that don't require a holiday to inspire giving. A writer can use any or all of these wonderful presents any time of day, month, or year. Love this one, Elspeth. The only addition I might make to the list is "time." Somewhat related to the clock, its absence is the robber of all things creative and the frustrator of the best-laid plans to get that story brewing in the mind translated to the hard drive (or that paper that came as a welcome gift).

  2. The best gift my kids ever gave me was a case of recycled paper when I got serious about writing. And my darling husband brings me coffee daily. I am so lucky...

  3. Your gift ideas make perfect sense, Elspeth. I do like the idea of having someone bring the drinks and snacks in. I've tried to convince my cats they need to do that, but they'd rather just knock things off my desk and walk across my keyboard. They don't even write anything that is any good, either.

  4. I go with #8 ... however, it doesn't have to be snacks I can devour with one hand ... any kind of snack will do.

  5. Linda; I agree! A gift of time along with my list's mention of instant creativity.

    Betsy; You are indeed. Happy writing!

    Maryann; My cats also refuse to serve me. I try not to take it personally as their lives seems fairly full with eating, sleeping and staring at me accusingly if I dare walk into the room.

    Christopher; You are, indeed, a man of many talents.

  6. Ooh, Elspeth: I never thought of putting snacks on my shelving! Just inherited two tall bookshelves from my parents' place and so for the moment (a month? two?) I actually have a few unoccupied nooks and crannies. What a wonderful use of imagination! What goodies shall I place there?

    Or was this a trick? Maybe I was supposed to be using my imagination to write...

  7. Kathryn; Have you never heard of feeding your imagination?

  8. Crumb-free snacks. What a great idea! Did you have "beverages" on the list?

  9. Of course there are beverages on the list. Beverages with crumbs, if you so wish. But that doesn't sound too appealing.

  10. hahah! I totally agree with the crumb-free snacks! Although the gift on my wishlist is for my kids to NOT start fighting or demanding my attention the second my brain gets in writing mode and the words start flowing. That would be the best present ever.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.