Christmas is just around the corner and there’s a writer on your gift list. What on earth do you buy them? A notebook?
Zero points for originality there.
As most writers I know will attest, that expensive Moleskine will just be added to a tottering tower of fancy notebooks tucked away in a cupboard, while all our day-to-day half-thoughts and to-do lists and brainstorms – which is the real work of writing – get scribbled down in old exercise books or on random scraps of paper. (Or immediately digitised. This is 2015 after all.)
So this Christmas, get them something they’ll actually use. Here’s a bunch of suggestions from the team at Writers. There’s not a notebook to be seen.
Stocking stuffers and Secret Santas
Visitors to the Writers studio always remark on how quiet it is – and that’s because writers need silence to concentrate. Sometimes, though, silence doesn’t cut it. A favourite tactic in the office to drown out background noise and get in the zone is to plug into some classical music on Spotify. It’s currently offering three-month premium subscriptions for just 99 cents – which gives your writer endless listening uninterrupted by ads.
Brilliant ideas have a way of striking at the most inconvenient times. You might be midway through an uncanny rendition of ‘Shake It Off’ in the shower when the perfect plot twist for your novel hits you. For that situation there’s AquaNotes – a waterproof, wall-mountable notepad with pencil – so you never have to stress about forgetting your genius idea before you’ve rinsed out the conditioner.
And if they’re not surprising you in the shower they’re floating around right before you drift off to sleep at night. For that there’s the Fisher space bullet pen – a pen that defies gravity to write upside down (or at any angle).
Things to use and muse over
If you’ve got a bit more of a budget, put a subscription to a magazine or journal they like under the tree. Dumbo Feather does storytelling really well, while Overland is a nice mix of commentary on writing and the arts, short fiction and the occasional poem.
On the more practical end of things, noise cancelling headphones will block out chattering colleagues, coffee shop bustle and screaming children alike. And for anyone crafting long documents, Scrivener is a clever tool. With in-built functions to support manuscripts, reports, long form journalism, research papers and scripts, it lets you save and store your research and sources alongside your copy, create outlines and storyboards on index cards, write, edit and export to publishable formats.
For your dearest word nerds
For the writer who’s a special someone in your life, give the gift of better posture and stronger hip flexors with a standing desk. This one is height-adjustable, meaning your clever scribbler can split up their day between sitting and standing, and has a two-tier design for their monitor and keyboard. Or you could organise their very own writer’s retreat. Book a night or two at a quiet boutique hotel in your city, give them some extra cash for room service, and leave them to it.
On the other end of the fancy schmancy pen scale is the Livescribe wifi smartpen – for any writer who has to do interviews. This baby records everything you write and hear. When it comes time to review, you can tap anywhere on your notes to replay the audio from that moment in time. How? We’re not sure. But this is mindblowing, and surely the way of the journalistic future. It also syncs with Evernote so you can play back anywhere, any time – because of course it does.
And if after all that you must get them a notebook, make sure it’s an ugly one. Because no one ever wants to ruin the pretty ones by, you know, writing in them.