How to Buy a Present for a Writer

I had a birthday a month ago and for once, I received some DVDs that I actually asked for rather than a random present.  I also got an awesome surprise gift that had personal meaning and is in use right this very minute.   All in all, it was a terrific birthday.  :)

A thoughtful gift takes into account the recipient’s tastes, desires and personality.  It doesn’t have to be a surprise.

As both a writer and a skater, I’ve noticed that gifts for people who define themselves by profession or hobbies tend to be somewhat unimaginative.  A necklace with a skate charm or a t-shirt with one of Shakespeare’s quotes makes a nice gift.  It’s appreciated.  But sometimes, I wish people would pay more attention to what we NEED.

If you don’t know, ask.  We are not shy about telling you what we lack.

You don’t have to buy something writing-related for your writer.  But if you want to, we can always use:

  • Paper / office supplies. Get your writer a gift card to Staples.  I can run around in there for days.  If someone gave me a fully loaded Staples card, I’d marry them.
  • A good laser printer. This makes a great gift, if you can afford it.  I splurged on a commercial grade one, but HP makes some decent home ones too.  You can’t print a 400-page manuscript on an inkjet printer.  You’ll kill it.
  • A subscription to an online file storage site like Dropbox, Carbonite, or Mozy. IF YOU’RE NOT BACKING UP YOUR WORK, DO IT NOW!  You can do it to an external drive or upload it into the cloud.  These sites offer backup services that can do your whole system regularly for a nominal fee.  It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind, in the event of a system failure or a clumsily-handled cup of coffee.
  • Books. About writing, editing, or a gift card so we can pick out what we want.  Most writers like to read also, so if you know who your writer’s favorite author is, pick up their latest.  The newest edition of the Writer’s Market guide is a terrific present.
  • Webinars and workshops.  Professional development is important.  Writers don’t often have a lot of money for workshops.  Find out which ones they would like to attend and get them a ticket.  Not all are expensive; Writer’s Digest has some online webinars for under $100.
  • Computer accessories. Power supply, a laptop case, or a mobile broadband card.
  • Time. Do some chores when your writer is working.  Most of us have not quit our day jobs and might not be able to for a long time, so help us out.  Take the kids to the park, do the dishes for us, field phone calls.  Let us work uninterrupted for a while each day.  It’s very hard to find time to write when you work and then must care for a family or household.  Even writers without kids have a hard time of it, especially if they live alone and have no one to help them do yard work, etc.   It’s a cheap gift, but one of the best.

Check with your writer and see what they would like to receive for a birthday or Christmas gift.  If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments.

5 thoughts on “How to Buy a Present for a Writer

  1. Much agreement here. I love a good practical gift, and I’m sure many others that I know do as well. Most of the time people don’t know what I want even if I drop a hint or two. I usually end up buying my own gifts every christmas and birthday just for that reason. If all else fails, a general VISA gift card work great. Just activate it and you’re set. ^.^ (I don’t like store specific ones as I may not want anything from there and may find something I need at another store.)

    • That’s a good suggestion about the VISA card. I hate when you get a present that can’t be returned except for store credit and then you can’t find a replacement (if it doesn’t fit, for example). At least with the card you can go where you want and find something that does suit you.

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