Friday, 13 December 2013

10 Christmas presents to make writers happy

If you're the writer, you may want to leave this page casually open on every screen in the house. If you've found this page left casually open, your writer is hinting that they'd like one of these presents. It's very important to keep writers happy.

Writing Maps: £3.90

Wonderful, pocket-sized maps of inspiration, beautifully illustrated and printed on pleasingly thick paper.  Visit their site to see all the maps on offer. You could also put this together with a notebook and pen as a writing kit. (They sent me some for my birthday so I know how lovely they are.) Buy online.

Story Cubes £10

Chunky dice with picture prompts in a satisfying little box: throw the dice and weave together a story from the nine pictures you get, or use them however you want. They have a range of sets with different themes. Again, you could give these with a notebook and pen. (A student bought me a set of these and I fell in love with them.) Buy online or from bookshop counters.

Paperblanks £13

Forget moleskines, these are the haute couture of the notebook world. Gorgeous hardcover designs, magnetic flaps to close the books, and thick creamy paper that doesn't bleed with a fountain pen or show the ink through. They have a huge range of designs on their site. The bigger ones are great for doing actual writing; the smaller ones make perfect idea-books. (I love it when people buy me Paperblanks. Utter luxury.) Most bookshops and stationers have a selection.

Inspiration pad

A delightfully crazy little notebook, where the lines start off as standard straight feint lines and then wander through different patterns on every page - perfect to explore new ways or writing. I'd pair this with a set of coloured pens for added play value. And possibly a spicy Shiraz. Or tequila. If the lines start to look straight, lay off the tequila. (A student bought this for me, too. Great fun.)

Spangly ideas notebook £1

Pretty little thing from... Poundland! Yup. I found this out Christmas shopping with my little nieces and nephews, as they earnestly set about finding presents to a budget of £2 per person, and I immediately grabbed one, then went back later and bought a stack more. Mine sits in the living room for all the random ideas I have mid-conversation or mid-film. The paper's a bit iffy (be fair, it cost £1) but fine for writing in ball point. There's also a gold one.

Fountain pen £12+

Every writer needs a fountain pen (and a large supply of ink). Ballpoint pens use friction, which hurts your wrist and makes your handwriting messier, and gel pens write easily but run out of ink too fast. The fountain pen is queen, tracing ribbons of glistening ink. You can spend a small fortune on these, but you don't have to: mine was £20 from WH Smiths (Parker brushed stainless steel) and it writes beautifully and smoothly. By the way, only the fountain pen's owner writes with the fountain pen. The nib slowly shapes to your handwriting, so other people using it will affect the nib and make it scratchy.

Felt-tips £5+

These are for novel-mapping, drawing out ideas, colour coding, and general creativity - a set of felt-tips would go very happily with the Inspiration Pad. Faber-Castell has good quality tips and up to 20 colours (I get mine from the local art shop, but they're widely stocked). The biggest range of colours I can find is WH Smiths - the tips are weak and quickly become scratchy if they're roughly used, but the colour range is great. They also do a set of 100.

Sharpies and permission to write on stuff: £20 and priceless

You're allowed to write on anything. Lampshades are good. Crockery. Mirrors. Furniture. Anything. Writing in colours on objects can loosen up one's writing brilliantly. Put this together with a list of things in the house that your writer can now write on! You can also write on walls with them, but when you paint over the ink may bleed through, so the best thing for that is...

Paint pens and permission to write on the walls: $10 for 2 and so, so trusting

Fill the pen with paint from a tester pot and then you can write all over the walls. I'd go for a colour just one shade up or down from the wall colour, to create a texture, but that's just playing it safe. I can only find these on US Amazon, so if you're in the UK you'd need to hop to it!

Subscriptions: £21+

New information is vital writer-food. The choice of subscription is very writer-dependent, obviously, but these are the ones I'd want:

Have a wonderful Christmas, deluge your favourite writer with gifts, and then gently steer them out the house to a nearby coffee shop with the reminder that it's really very important for them to get a bit of creative alone time, and not to worry about the chores, you'll do them while they're off creating marvels. Now there's a Christmas present!