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A Gift Guide For the Writer in Your Life

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‘Tis the time of year when gift guides abound. And while the writer in your life might well be jonesing for a Moleskine notebook or a fancy pen, there are lots of other gifts that are both harder and easier to come by. The gifts on the list below are mostly light on the wallet, but at the same time, they’re priceless. Without further ado:

Give your writer the gift of time. If you’re co-parenting with a writer, for example, this one’s a biggie. And it may or may not have financial value assigned. But one of the things writers struggle with, especially if we have full-time jobs or parenting responsibilities or both, is setting aside time to dedicate to our writing. Some writers can function well grabbing 10 or 20 minutes at a time, but most of us prefer chunks of time upwards of an hour — which, again, are harder to find the more other responsibilities we have piled on our plates. So help your writer set aside times, either on a recurring or one-off basis, where everything else is swept off their plates and they can focus 100% on the writing they want to do.

Give your writer the gift of support. Again, this could be financial, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether the writer in question is your romantic partner, best friend, co-worker, or just an acquaintance, we could all use more support in our writing careers. People who aren’t writers themselves often have very little knowledge about writing and publishing, and that leads to questions that writers might struggle with answering or don’t want to answer, like “How many books have you sold?” or “Didn’t you sell that book months ago, why isn’t it published yet?” Whether or not their personal level of achievement squares with what you think the best yardsticks are for commercial success, the writer in your life probably wants and needs your emotional support. If they tell you things aren’t going well, you can sympathize; if they have a great achievement they want to share with you, you can help them celebrate. Which leads to…

Give your writer the gift of listening. By “listening,” I don’t mean that you should give your writer free rein to talk your ear off for hours about every single detail of their work. You can do that if you want to, of course, but it’s not the only form of listening that writers find helpful. I mean that in conversations with your writer about their writing, meet them where they are. Don’t tell a writer who has decided to self-publish all the reasons that traditional publishing is a better choice; don’t tell a writer of Westerns all the reasons you think Westerns as a genre are trash. Get to know what your writer’s goals are for their writing. The more you know, the more helpful you can be as a source of emotional support, and the closer you’ll get to a true understanding of your writer’s writing life. I promise you, that’s a gift.

Q: As writers, what other gifts would you enjoy getting from friends and family, this holiday season and beyond?


About Greer Macallister

Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister earned her MFA in creative writing from American University. Her historical novels have been named Book of the Month, Indie Next, LibraryReads, Target Book Club, and Amazon Best Book of the Month picks and optioned for film and television. Her upcoming book, SCORPICA (as G.R. Macallister), is the first in the Five Queendoms series and her epic fantasy debut. A regular contributor to Writer Unboxed and the Chicago Review of Books, she lives with her family in Washington, DC. www.greermacallister.com

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