Ditch the Fancy Pens: 12 Gifts for Writers

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In the November/December issue of WD, we featured a batch of holiday gifts for writers, as picked by WD editors. In case you missed the issue, here they are, recapped with some new additions—so that the writer in your life doesn’t end up with another fancy notebook he’s scared to write in, even with a fancy pen. (I have a small stack of journals awaiting $40 thoughts.)

Beyond these, what are some of your recommendations for writers?

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“Writers can make a classy and professional statement with personalized note cards. I use FineStationery.com (where it’s fun to create mock-ups). To really splurge for the writer in your life, choose a letterpress printing option. Unforgettable.”
Jane Friedman, publisher and editorial director

“I always think a good book is the best gift you can give—but why stop there? Give the perfect winter reading experience by pairing a coveted title with a cozy throw and an indulgence of hot chocolate mix, a tea sampler or a bottle of wine. My personal fireside favorite? Any cocoa from Godiva.”
Jessica Strawser, WD editor

“The iPhone 3GS features a voice recorder and notebook for capturing ideas on the fly, a camera, video camera and zillions of apps, such as dictionaries, thesauruses and e-readers. And with the Internet at your fingertips, it’s a snap to keep up with industry news and blogs. I don’t know how writers live without them.”
Alice Pope, WD Market Books managing editor

“In lieu of a plane ticket to Key West to check out Hemingway’s house and herd of legendary six-toed cats, pick up a copy of Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon’s Novel Destinations—a definitive travel guide for writers that ventures into all the literary corners most guidebooks overlook. Wildly useful for any getaway.”
Zac, WD managing editor

“For writers who like to make lots of notes and tack up story outlines and scene cards, a small bulletin board is great for displaying all the pieces of your work-in-progress. It’s also a good place to hang inspiring stories about authors, photos of hip writing spaces and positive mantras to keep you moving during less productive times. These visual reminders of your goal—to be your own success story—can help keep you grounded.”
Kelly Nickell, WD Books executive editor

And some new picks …

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night board game: Call me selfish for leading off with this one (or, call me Ishmael), but I want this game in which you’re tasked with guessing the title or author of books after hearing their opening lines. (Take note, family members.)

Moleskine City Notebooks: OK, so I may have been bashing fancy notebooks a minute ago. But Moleskine’s are battle tested, and to give a thoughtful writerly gift, all you need do is figure out where your writer is taking a trip in 2010. Las Vegas? Done. Madrid? Si. They come with maps, sections to keep you organized, and even tracing paper.

Fancy things from Levenger: Euro Desk System. Duet Fortunata Tote Bag. True Writer Kyoto Clock Paperweight.

Writer’s Digest Swag
: I bought WD products long before I worked here, so I’d mention them in this roundup even if I was still a police reporter. Check out back issues of the magazine and oodles of books, including the handsome 2010 Writer’s Market. Or, if you’re like me and lagging on your present quota this year, drop by your favorite bookstore Dec. 22 to pick up a copy of the February 2010 issue of WD (my new pitch: It’s so awesome it scooped Santa Claus).

A new digital voice recorder: Tired of steering with your knees while balancing a pad of paper and jotting down fleeting ideas? Grab a new recorder. We recently acquired a Sony ICD-UX71 (a sleek red digital recorder with 287 hours of space and a direct USB connection), and so far, we're impressed.

A bookstore gift certificate (with stipulation that it not be spent on Frappuccinos): Old reliable = cheating? Probably. But what better way to sharpen your writing than by reading?

Bookends: Personal favorites of mine include James Thurber’s dogs and lounging polar bears. The best part about bookends? They add a new level to your bookshelf, and can be used to establish rogue bookshelves wherever you choose. (Be warned: Googling “bookends” can lead to several hours of lost time.)

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WRITING PROMPT: Gift That Made You Gag

Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings.

Revisit a scene from your past and write about a gift you once received that shocked you—for better or worse.