What to give your writer: 8 ideas from $0 to $Gazillion

by Starla J. King on December 16, 2014

Each year at the beginning of December, my wife and I sit side-by-side on the living room couch and type out our Christmas wish lists, chuckling at our own witty descriptions (her list title this year is “Mrs. Sandra A. Manne’s Christmas List,” in honor of our June legal wedding) and impossible requests (I’m still waiting for my horse).

I asked for my usual 413 books, gift certificates to every coffee shop in Philly within a 2-mile walking radius of our home, and the horse I won’t get, but I realized I have an even deeper wish list that goes beyond my home life to my professional life as a writer.

I offer you that list now as a PSA on behalf of any beloved writer in your life.   You’re welcome.

8 Gift Ideas for Your Writer:

1.  Books.  ($0 – $Gazillion) 

Well, obviously, duh. BUT they still need to be on the list because they are so very important. Words are our nourishment; don’t let us starve.

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
~ from (the late) Mark Strand’s poem, Eating Poetry

A few of my recent favorite books:

2.  Gift certificates to local coffee/tea shops.  ($5 – $Gazillion) 

What IS it about writers and coffee shops?  Well, baked goods of course.  And coffee (or, if you must, tea).  OH, and because science shows that “being a tiny bit distracted helps you be more creative,” according to the coffee shop soundtrack app Coffitivity.

And if your writer isn’t a write-in-busy-public person, then they just might need this nudge to go take a beverage break and soak in the buzz for a bit.

3.  Online reviews of their work  ($0) 

It doesn’t cost you a dime, and it just might give them a whole bunch of profit dollars and “platform” growth.  In other words, reviews sell books… and the difficulty of selling books is a thorn in many writers sides.  Don’t get me started.

(If I am your writer, go here to review WIDE AWAKE. EVERY DAY. Please. I’ll eat a decadent holiday chocolate in your honor, I promise.)

4.  Commitment to remove the phrase “starving artist” from your vocabulary.  ($0) 

Actually, rip that phrase out and burn it into oblivion.  It’s simply not ok to propagate the idea that creative work and money are mutually exclusive.  (Writers, I’m talking to you too here.  Myself included).

5.  Spread the word about their work. ($0) 

Do you love your writers writing?  Tweet about it, share it on Facebook, Instagram the heck out of it, forward their blog post emails, encourage your friends to sign up for their email lists.

Why?  We write publicly because we have finally figured out – at least in part — what we are burning to say, and we need your help to spread that message if it’s something you resonate with.

6.  A subscription to Chicago Manual of Style online  ($35) 

Your word-lovin’ writer just might kiss you when it comes time to the nitty-gritty editing and you’ve given them this digital grammatical sidekick.  (If you don’t want kisses, you probably shouldn’t consider this gift).

7.  Embrace their different

We writers often approach life differently than many folks are used to.

Our rushing often looks a lot like ambling — because we gather inspiration for our writing in the savory details of life moments.

Our working often looks a lot like resting — because, as a fridge magnet once explained — on a cellular level we are really quite busy.  Scientists have learned that the creative process actually requires incubation (read more here)… which doesn’t look like much on the outside, but then again, neither do the first few weeks of pregnancy.  I rest my case. 🙂

Just consider reminding yourself that different does not equal wrong.  (And we’ll try to do the same).

8.  Writing coaching session(s)  ($150-ish and up) 

Many people you meet will tell you that they always wanted to write a book — but only a few of them are actually DOING that.  Why?  Because it’s hard.  It puts them face-to-face with their doubts, makes their still-need-to-learns painfully clear, and rubs them up against the bristly cultural suggestions that creative work is somehow lesser than, or second rate, or just not a valid use of their time.

A writing coach (like me) is someone who can support your writer with the skill and sensitivity somewhere between a project manager and a unicorn.  Someone who gets it, this writing thing.  Someone who helps them get clear on why they (want to) write, what they (want to) write, and how they (will) write… and then supports them in getting it done.

Gift them a 1-time Writing Breakout Session with me (details here) or show them you believe in them with a longer-term writing coaching package (details here).  Send me a note through my contact page to get that gift rolling easily.

9.  (I know, I said 8, but I do words, not math).  Let them know about writing that moves you. ($0)

Are you reading a book that lights you on fire?  Did a blog post remind you of your writer’s writing or ideas?  Does a particular quote make you think of your writer?  Let them know. 

Because writers love words.  And we love when others love words.  It’s really that simple.

May your holidays shine, your writers be happy, and your cookies be as exquisite as those my dear nieceling Kristy makes.

with love,
Starla J. (aka Star of the East)


Macy’s (in the historic Wanamaker Building) in Center City, Philadelphia

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