christmas bub You have a writer on your gift list and you are at a complete loss about what to get them. Creative people can to be the hardest people to buy for because we artists are just way too particular about what we like and absolutely do not. You want to get something that says “I love you” and “I am interested in your passions.” But WAIT! Here’s a guide to avoiding the pitfalls of buying for a scribe this season.

DON’T:

The Journal. Ever since your writer shared that first sentence to a friend or family member, every one has been incredibly supportive by buying them the most generic gift—the writer’s journal. Although it might be tempting to pick something from that tall wall of journals lining the bookstore, this is the wrong gift for so many reasons.   Writers like to select what they will write on.  We’re picky about our writing environments, and that extends to the page itself. Conditions must be just right. Does your writer prefer a red hardback Moleskine with unlined pages, a $1 college-rule Composition notebook, or the nearest cocktail napkin? Does your writer even write longhand? Chances are, that bejeweled, boxed, and embroidered journal you found on your way out of the checkout of TJ Maxx will just end up re-gifted to a teenage cousin.

The “Special” Pen. Just like their word choice, writers are choosey with their writing gear. Ball-Point vs Gel. Foray vs BIC. Blue vs Green. Plastic vs Metal. Some of us won’t even look at mechanical pencils; others relish in untwisting the body of their fountain pens. Don’t spend hours in Staples only to see that engraved pen with embossed rubber gripping thrown in the corner of your writer’s bedroom in a week. Read the “Do’s” after the jump!

IDEAS for WRITER GIFT SWAG

Out of Print. Got a fashionable writer? I fell in love with Out of Print three years ago and I am sure any writer can find something to love on this page. Out of Print is a great organization that produces fashionably nerdy T-shirts, totes, and accessories emblazoned with “iconic and out of print book covers.” Authors to be honored by this bookworm favorite include Toni Morrison, Jack London, and Richard Wright. And a portion of each purchase goes to buying books for communities in need. My personal favorite is the Poe-ka Dots Tote Bag. They always have special pricing and give aways with purchases so check out this website.

A Tablet or Laptop. Technically this one is just for my family to read. I really need a new computer for school. Never hurts to hint.

Literary Journals. You ever notice how every time you take your beloved writer into a bookstore, they beeline for the periodicals? Almost all writers have a thirst for new writing, but just can’t afford to buy a subscription to all the litmags they love. What better way to acknowledge this than by giving them a gift that brings new writing to their doorstep? Buy your writer a subscription to a journal, magazine or newspaper. Take a look at their bookshelves or their reading racks in the bathroom. Most writers will appreciate either a new subscription or an extension, and even better for you—many magazines will have special pricing for gifts. If you’re really at a loss of what subscription they will most enjoy, Journal of the Month is a website that delivers a different journal to your writer every month–the ideal gift for writers to discover their new favorite work.

The Gift Card. Keep it simple. Less stress. I know most of us are too busy to shop so sometimes a gift card doesn’t hurt. The key, however, is to listen. Though a Barnes & Noble gift card shows that you know your writer enjoys reading, a more thoughtful approach is to give them credit to a local indie bookstore or even a coffee shop. Go with your writer to buy books. Observe them in their natural habitat. If you don’t know where to find one, Indie Bound has an excellent search engine for finding independent booksellers in your area.

Listen. Whether you pick something from this list or you decide to go another route, I am sure your writer will be happy that you took time to think about what really fits their personality. Whatever you do this year, resist the urge and—yes, we know the paper is handmade—put down the bejeweled journal.

Writers, add to this list. We want to know what’s first on your writer’s holiday shopping list. Please share in the comments below.

About Nandi Comer


Nandi Comer is currently the Poetry Editor of Indiana Review. She is also a joint MA/MFA student in Poetry and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Sycamore Review, and Third Coast. She is originally from Detroit.

About Nandi Comer

Nandi Comer is currently the Poetry Editor of Indiana Review. She is also a joint MA/MFA student in Poetry and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Sycamore Review, and Third Coast. She is originally from Detroit.

3 Responses to Not Another Bejeweled Journal

  1. Andrea says:

    Nandi, Hilarious title! You’re so right, writers are very particular about their journals and pens (so glad it’s not just me) ;) These are all awesome ideas that I know I would love to receive! I’ve got another suggestion. I have a Skillshare class on becoming a better blogger through content planning. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a last minute gift that doesn’t have to be shipped :) Here’s a link: http://bit.ly/1b5YfJq

  2. Nandi Comer says:

    Andrea, You totally just rocked my christmas wish list! Thanks for that excellent suggestion.

  3. Mark Allen Jenkins says:

    Very true about writing journals. I have so many I doubt I’ll ever use. The Journal of the month though sounds great. Several Christmases ago I suggested someone to get me a subscription to a small press’s releases for the year, which seemed like a good gift. Sadly it didn’t happen.

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