In mid-December 2010, I posted 10 Great Stocking Stuffers for Writers to great success. The idea was simple — Help non-writers fill the Holiday Socks of their writer friends and family. Or, perhaps it was a not-so-thinly-veiled hint to my own friends and family that I really really really wanted more sticky notes. Who can say? That said, the post was popular. And in 2011, when I came up with 12 ideas for filling the sock of your resident writer, that post was also a hit. So…it’s 2012, and you’re shopping (or waiting to see if the Mayans were right before you head to the mall — very smart), and I’m here, once more, to help you assess the needs of that crazypants author in your life. What sticktoitiveness! You say. Three years in a row!
I know. I can hardly believe it myself.
As always (I can say that now that it’s the third time!), some of these are repeats…but they’re just too good (and necessary) not to list.
1. The Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Pencil. Number one on the list three years running, this mechanical pencil will give your resident writer the shakes. In a good way. You see, when we are faced with paper copy edits and typeset page proofs, there’s this rule that we have to use a colored pencil to make our changes. But the truth is, most colored pencils are AWFUL. The leads break, they don’t stay sharp, they’re basically made for four year olds and not for actual, yaknow, work. This pencil is mechanical, *and* it takes colored leads, which means you don’t have to spend half your copyediting time resharpening broken, soft Crayola coloreds. I have two, and when I travel with it, it travels in a special case so that I don’t lose it.
2. Pentel Colored Leads. If you buy the Pentel Automatic, you’ll need the leads. Amazon sells them in red (which I use) and blue, but you can find other .5mm colored leads in other places on the web, or in your local art store.
3. Movies about Writers. Every writer needs to fill the well, and movies about writing do it better than many others. I’ve talked about my love of Stranger than Fiction (hands down, the best depiction of writer’s block, ever) and for Adaptation, but how about something different this year? How about Shakespeare in Love, in which Shakespeare pens working title: Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter?) or one of my most favorite recent movies, Midnight in Paris, in which Owen Wilson plays a fledgling writer who gets critique from Hemingway and Stein.
4. Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. This is serious gift giving gold for a writer. In the 1970s, Brian Eno (of music and crossword puzzle fame), created a deck of creative prompts, many of them bizarre and unclear, and many of them absolutely perfect for changing up a character or a plot. When I’m stuck, I turn to them. My favorite is: State the problem in words as simply as possible. You can get your own deck from Eno himself. Fair warning, at £30, this is a little more expensive than your average stocking gift, but I swear your writer will love it.
5. Flags. I know, I said it in 2010 and 2011, but the best thing about stockings is that they’re designed for replenishing low resources. If they’re reading, researching or editing, they’re going to need flags in multiple colors. At least, I do. I have them in purses, on desks, in the junk drawer in my kitchen. You never know when you might need to flag.
6. Writing-related Accessories. I’m not wild about kitsch, but there are some awesome pieces of writing jewelry at Etsy that I wouldn’t mind having myself, and that your lady-writer might really like. I’m a particular fan of this Words are my Weapon pendant, and this necklace made from a vintage fountain pen nib, this “If you wish to be a writer, write.” bracelet, and this fun “Ask Me About My Book” keychain.
7. Customized Notecards. At some point, every writer I know has had to send a thank you note. Whether to agent, publisher, fabulous author who offered invaluable advice or a tremendous cover quote, or friend who was there with a kind ear, your writer is going to need a notecard or two. I love these from Etsy, with a vintage typewriter on them.
8. Pens. If you’re a non-writer, here’s something you should know about the strange beings called writers. We are obsessive about our tools. Particularly when it comes to pens. I like the Uni-Ball Vision Fine (in Pink, of course) because it feels great, it glides well and it comes in a variety of colors. If you know what kind of pen your writer likes to use, he/she will love you forever if you put one in his/her stocking. “But Sarah,” I hear you saying, “What if I don’t know?” Check his/her workspace. I’m guessing there will be a million of them under paper and in cupboards and cups. And if she’s got a purse, there are at least four at the bottom of that bag. Put on your detective’s cap.
9. Fingerless gloves. Every writer likes to imagine that she’s in a Parisian garret, writing a great novel (ok, that may just be me). But, that said, hands get cold. And cold makes wrists ripe for repetitive stress (Trust me on this one. I’m a professional.) May I recommend these for ladies and these for gents? Oh, and while we’re on the subject of repetitive stress, a pair of these Imak computer gloves might be the perfect addition to the stocking, as well.
10. And something fun. Hemingway famously said “Write drunk. Edit sober.” How about a fun vinyl decal for your favorite writer? Not that I’m endorsing heavy drinking, but I’m just saying, sometimes it seems like it might be the best way to dull the pain of bad writing.
Ok, elves! There are my 10 writerly stocking ideas for the year. Did I miss something? Tell me in comments!