If you ask an aspiring writer what she wants for Christmas, she’ll probably tell you “more time to write!” And that is, of course, every aspiring writer’s biggest challenge. This holiday season, here a few ideas to offer that and more to the special writer in your life.
Pen and Paper
The Moleskine notebook and the Marvy Le Pen are my two very favorite writer items. There’s nothing like a fresh notebook and a package of new inky pens to make me feel like writing. Writers often suffer from the feeling that their words aren’t important, or that they’re not real writers unless they’re published. But the only thing you need to do to be a real writer is to write. And the only thing you really need to write is pen and paper. Consider the gift of a moleskin, pens and maybe a copy of Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write to give some encouragement and motivation.
The Gift of Time
Your writer pal probably has a million other responsibilities — a job, a spouse, kids, housework. Often these things won’t wait, or we can’t give ourselves permission to write until we’ve tended to the needs of everyone else. How about a couple hours of free babysitting? Cleaning service for a week? Or a chef to cook for an evening? A couple of hours a week can make a big difference for a writer balancing a busy life.
All Writers are Readers First
Everyone who writes fell in love with story in the pages of another author’s book. And nothing is more inspiring than reading a book you love. Luckily some of the world’s best novelists have also written brilliant books about craft. Here are a few that I turn to again and again when inspiration flags: ON WRITING by Stephen King; BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott; ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL by E.M. Forster; PLOTTING AND WRITING SUSPENSE FICTION by Patricia Highsmith
Social Media Kills Creativity
Chances are your writer pal is his or her own worst enemy when it comes to finding the time to write. How many times have we all sat down to our computers to write — and instead found ourselves trolling social media sites, online shopping, or watching funny cat videos instead? Luckily there are a couple of apps that your writer pal can download that will help him set his intention to write, and block that impulse to visit sites that steal time, ambition and the desire to write. Anti-Social, Freedom, Self-Control are just a few.
Writing is a solitary activity. But there are places where writers gather. These conferences, workshops, and local groups can be a place to make contacts, gain inspiration, and receive feedback on works in progress. Maybe you and your pal can travel to one together, if time and budget allows. Or perhaps there’s a local group that meets a couple of times a month. Bouchercon and Thrillerfest are a couple for suspense writers that I love. And Keep St. Pete Lit is an example of a local group supporting writers and readers; search your area for something similar. Here is a good list of conferences.
Sometimes all the writer needs is a little support, encouragement, and a gentle nudge to find her way to the page. Maybe you can be the person that offers that invaluable gift, and you’ll get a loving acknowledgement in your pal’s first novel. Oh, come on— who are we kidding? You’re the writer, aren’t you? Well, then, these suggestions are for you! Now get to work!