Finish Line in Sight!: Gifts for Writers Completing/Attempting NaNoWriMo

We’re officially over the hump for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), just a few days from Black Friday, and about a month away from Christmas, so here’s a post on excellent gifts for the writer(s) in your life. Or gifts you can get yourself for completing NaNoWriMo!

You’ll occasionally see lists like these, especially around the holidays, but most of these lists seem geared toward a specific *type* of writer. A writer who basically likes to make it known to the world that they are suffering from many, if not all, of the writer stereotypes.

Personally, I don’t care for things that lament writer’s block, nor do I need magical jellybeans that are supposed to be a cutesy “writer’s block remedy.” I like to design and personalize my own mugs, and I’m not one to credit or blame coffee or alcohol (or lack of either) for my mood.

Again, these are my personal peeves, mostly because of the fonts they use (Yes, I can be incredibly opinionated). If those are your jams, or you’re shopping for someone who likes that stuff (especially new writers!), then go for it. The world would be boring if we all felt the same way.

Here’s a list of some fun and practical gifts that don’t have someone else’s words on them:


My sister once dug around in my purse, looking for a pen, and when she couldn’t find one, she said, “You don’t carry a pen? What kind of writer ARE you?” I’ll admit that stung a little, but it did goad me into always carrying a pen, which has been incredibly helpful now that I do get the occasional request for an autograph (which comes with its own set of anxiety-inducing brain freezes due to trying to come up with a personal dedication to someone you’ve never met ie: “It’s for my sister. She’ll love the post-feminist anti-colonial nouveau-Gothic themes of your novellas!”).

In this day and age, carrying a *pen* is one of those weird, whimsical things that is more fun than practical because most writers I know jot ideas in their phones either using an app (I highly recommend creating notebooks in Evernote) or so they can email the notes to a specific folder. Most writers I know write their stories on machine rather than long hand. But pens *are* very practical for writers groups and doing critiques on hard copies.

These grass blade pens are great for writers who are also gardeners, outdoorsy writers, writers who like a bit of whimsy on their desks. They’re fun to whip out during group (and can take the edge off delivering or getting a critique). I’ve actually seen these at bookstore gift sections selling for five dollars each. Five dollars!

desk with grass pens
I was a chump and bought a couple of the goddamn $5 pens. Here they are on my desk.

Don’t be a chump like me. Buy a set from Amazon. Grass Pens

These legit erasable pens are great for writers who do a lot of hand-written mindmaps and outlines.
Frixion Pens

At some point, the writer in your life will (hopefully) join a writers group. Many groups still trade hard copy. I’ve found these to be the best pens for self-editing and critiquing because their fine points gets into tight spaces (for adding/subtracting those pesky commas) and their reliable and smooth ink flow is conducive to quickly jotting down thoughts.
Pilot Precise V5

Actually useful notebook/notepad:

Look. You’re either a notebook person or you’re not. Not all writers like them or use them, but it seems to be part of the stereotypical writer “uniform” including the mug of coffee, rumpled hair, no pants, bleary/crazy eyes. Well-meaning friends have given me enough notebooks to last a lifetime.

Here is an actually useful notebook/notepad for writers who get ideas while they’re doing other things (for me, that’s usually water-based things like taking a shower or washing dishes).
Aqua Notes

For keeping your writer (or yourself!) well-lubed (the brain!) while writing:

Speaking of water, it’s a proven fact that you are made mostly of water. Also a proven fact that dehydration causes lack of concentration, irritability, drowsiness, and mental impairment. Hmmmm…sounds an awful lot like that thing people call “writer’s block.”

Writing can be mentally and emotionally taxing. If you’ve ever sat through final exams or SATs, or when a major aspect of your life depended solely on your ability to do mental gymnastics, you’ve felt the resulting thirst and hunger, despite having done very little physical activity in that hour. Writing can be that intense.

To stave off creative lulls, stay hydrated by keeping a canteen of water on your desk. Water, not coffee, not tea. If you *need* coffee or tea to “function” then you do you. But for actual hydration purposes without the jitteriness, water is a good bet.

Here are two containers I use.

This one, if used correctly, is leak-proof. Good for people who write on machines.
Bubba Flo

This one I like because I drink A LOT of water, and it holds a large amount, and it keeps my drinks cold.

 photo Bubba Mug_zps6auz2mct.jpg
My beloved Bubba mug.

Bubba Envy

For multitasking writers/sprinters:

As a mom, sometimes I have to squeeze writing time in before picking my son up from school, or while I’m waiting for something to bake. Using a timer lets me completely immerse myself in the story world and in writing. I don’t have to keep one eye on the clock, or keep jolting myself out of focus to make sure I’m not going to be late for something.

Yes, there’s a timer that comes with my phone. Yes, there are a lot of timer apps. But I like having ticking time bombs on my desk, and you or your multitasking/word-sprinting writer friends might like them too.
Death Star Timer

R2-D2 Timer

To show a writer how thoughtful you can be:

Me in the winter: *Writing zone. Forgets about being human. Feet freeze, develop frostbite, have to be chewed off. Continues writing.*

If you or someone you know is like this, consider getting them cozy slippers. If they already have slippers, get them a new pair anyway and designate them as “Writing Slippers” that have to stay at their desk/in their writing nook so they don’t have to hunt them down and they won’t have an excuse not to finish writing that chapter.

The Ultimate Expressions of Love (for yourself or a writer you really, really care about).

This present costs a little more than the ones I’ve listed, but if you’ve ever spent hours or, God forbid, DAYS on a draft, only to have technical difficulties wipe out your efforts, EVERY PENNY IS WORTH IT.

Gift yourself or your writer friend a backup drive. Even if it’s a backup to their backup drive. I use this brand on my Macbook Pro, and I was pleased with the ease of installation. I also like its small size. But mostly, I like the peace of mind that comes with using it as a physical backup that complements my anal use of the mysterious Cloud to backup files, as well as my daily/weekly emails to myself and my publisher.

Yes, I obsessively back up my files. A lesson learned the hard way before computers did automatic saves and backups and I was constantly losing hours of work.
Backup Drive 1TB

Backup Drive 2TB

For writers who are in very active writers groups or who like to edit on hardcopy (If you’ve never tried it editing hardcopy, I highly recommend it. You can see a lot of mistakes you miss on a screen.) a laser printer with Toner Saver mode is a great gift. This brand and model was the one I used to use when I had more space on my desk; it doesn’t have Wi-Fi/Airprint capabilities, only a USB interface so you’ll need to hook your machine up to a cable. It was a dependable little machine.
Brother Printer

And nothing says “I believe in you!” like a $250-$300 pen specifically for writing autographs. Montblanc Pen

*Psst! Need a little boost to your word count? You can expand a lot of scenes by showing more, telling less. Later on, go back and figure out which scenes would be better off with a faster pace and tweak them.

Have questions?

Contact me by leaving a comment below, on Twitter (@JoanWIP), or Facebook.

And for more writing tips, recipes, or posts on being a Mom in the Bay Area, follow this blog via the Follow link at the top of the page.

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