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The First Annual Florida Writers Holiday Gift List for Writers, Part I

November 23, 2012

We’ve been asking what you might want for the holidays. The list of your wishes is coming up. But here are some gifts you might not have considered.

What should you get your beloved writer friend this year for the holidays? It’s a question that we and many of our family members have pondered forever. This year, we’re putting together a list of reasonably priced options that will light up your writer’s friend’s face while not totally breaking the bank. The obvious things, like a tablet computer, a gift card to a book store, or books themselves…you don’t need us to suggest them.

Here are some things you might not have considered:

Internet Blocking Software — So you need to get your work done, but the lure of Facebook is just too strong? Try Freedom. For ten bucks you can make the Internet inaccessible for the time period you specify. If you need to get online, you can reboot your computer. Rebooting isn’t horribly difficult, but it takes just long enough that you won’t do it just because something exciting might possibly be happening in your feed.

Single Sheet Cutters — If your writer friend scours the newspaper for ideas, they could use a tool that cuts only the top sheet of paper, but does not cut any pages below that sheet. Levenger’s single sheet cutters are only $19 for a pair. The sheet cutter is a small piece of ceramic that extends only far enough to cut one sheet. If your writer friend is married to an extreme couponer, this is the perfect gift for both of them.

Evernote — If your writer friend has a zillion ideas all over the place and never writes any of them down, consider Evernote. Evernote takes the little notebook you bought to jot down ideas–and never used–and puts it in the cloud. In other words, once you set up your Evernote account, you can jot down notes from your computer, tablet, or even a smart phone and access them from anywhere. You can capture text or images, and once you synchronize, they’re available from anyplace with Internet access. It’s available for PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, and Blackberry. And it’s free!

Archetype Cards — Yeah, it’s kind of like Tarot, but it’s probably not going to damn your soul to hell. In fact, if hell is the place where your characters don’t come easily, it may save you from there. Archetype cards–and there are many different types–lay out character attributes for you. You can get the generic set for less than $15 via the Evil Empire, or even just a set of Tarot Cards. You could also hook them up with The Writer’s Toolbox ($24.95), which has cards, sentence sticks, and all kinds of similar brain-rebooting tools. And there’s always The Answer Deck, which I have seen put to very good use in writing prompts.

QuickOffice — If your writer friend has a tablet computer, including a Nook or a Kindle Fire, or even a smart phone with a decent-sized display screen, they can use it to squeeze in a little writing from time to time while waiting for children, spouses, or the car repair guy. QuickOffice is a reasonably priced ($14.99 for smart phones, $19.99 for tablets) office software suite for smart phones and tablets. It converts decently (though not perfectly) to Word’s format and keeps most of the styles you set up. Any time you spend fiddling with styles is more than offset by the downtime when you can squeeze in some writing.

The Poet’s Companion — Breaking the no-book rule for this one, suggested by Jamie Morris. According to Jamie, the ideas in The Poet’s Companion are applicable to poetry, but also work with prose. In 41 reviews on Amazon, the average rating is 4.5 stars. This book lists for $17.95, but is available cheaper.

Time — If your writer is your significant other, how about some coupons to do the things he or she typically does. I’ll do the laundry, or one week of free lawn-mowing, or a get out of cooking dinner card.  These are free, money-wise. And they could build an enormous amount of good will around crunch times.

A Keurig coffee maker — This is probably the most expensive item on the list, but if your writer friend likes fresh coffee, it’s worth it. Keurigs make individual cups off coffee on demand in mere seconds. Prices range from $90 to $259, but you don’t have to buy the expensive K-Cups. My wife finds reasonable prices from time to time by looking for sales, and you can always shop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and use the coupons that periodically appear in the paper. Or you can use the cup that comes with the system and pack your own coffee.

One Comment
  1. November 25, 2012 12:21 pm

    I like these two ideas particularly: Single Sheet Cutters and Evernote. I think I’d add: manilla envelopes and postage stamps (for those who still sub via snail mail, at least sometimes) and/or payment for the giftee to attend a class or conference.

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