Plotist Writer’s Gift Guide 201721 min read
Holiday season has finally come around! Treat the writer in your life to a unique gift from this list of our 40 favourite picks from the year!
A desk gong Once while researching a Writing Tips round up blog post, I came across a charming writing ritual: a girl who “at the start of each session would don a particular ring and chime a small bell that had a certain inspirational relevance to the story. Once that bell sounded and I was wearing that ring, it meant I was about to start writing that particular story.” I loved this idea (in one of my favourite old fantasy novels, Sabriel, bells have a special significance) but thought, in the interests of taking it up a notch, why not use a gong instead? Also the cited Buddhist gong teaching “upon hearing the gong, worries will cease, wisdom will grow” is pretty perfect for writing.
A glass paperweight “She liked glass, in general, for its paradoxical nature, translucent as water, heavy as stone, invisible as air, solid as earth. Blown with human breath in a furnace of fire”. Glass plays a significant role in more than one of ‘The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye‘ short stories from A S Byatt (read the whole book, it’s gorgeous), but did you know the writer herself collects glass paperweights? I love these teardrop-shaped paperweights and “wishing on a star” paperweights from Caithness Glass to keep your notepapers tidy and a piece of pure beauty in your eyeline.
A beautiful hourglass Whether timing your writing sessions to stop yourself from burning out, or timing wordsprints by minutes, I think an hourglass is always a visually pleasing alternative to a digital clock and attractive addition to your workspace. This beautiful Rathbone revolving hourglass allows you to adjust the weights according to your desired timings, and includes a compass. I also like this pretty geometric sand timer from Maisons du Monde (though it doesn’t tell you the timing of the glass!) If you are simply looking for short wordsprint timers, these cute tea-timers from Whittards should do the trick!
A book rest lamp Whether you’re a night-scribbler or a desk-researcher, I think this book rest lamp could be a unique accessory for writers, letting you keep your page in the Dictionary of Creation Myths or other research tome for later while still hammering out your main story.
Food & Drink
Salt Made From Tears Food has formed the memorable detail of many a magical story (think Lord of the Rings’ llemba or Narnia’s turkish delight). With this set of fantasy salts – made from tears of laughter, boredom, envy, sorrow, and anger – not only can you pretend you’re a mad sorcerer creating potions or fantasy dinner concoctions, but you’ll be supporting a great charity at the same time – Ministry of Stories, a creative writing organisation for children.
A coffee subscription It is a truth universally acknowledged that writers survive on caffeine. Tea, of course, can be a soothing option but coffee has been the traditional poison of choice of many of the greats. Keep your writer fuelled! We recommend The Roastery for some divine brew but there are plenty of other coffee subscriptions percolating around the net – and don’t forget to check out your local indie coffee shops – many of whom seem to be jumping aboard the subscription service ship!
The Artists’ & Writers’ Cookbook If you want to write like your favourite author, how about trying to eat like your favourite author for some inspiration? The Artists’ & Writers’ Cookbook contains recipes and recollections from the likes of Harper Lee, Neil Gaiman and Joyce Carol Oates. Beautiful illustrations and even short stories adorn this book, and creativity abounds with dish proposals such as Oates’ “Recipe in Defiance of Grief”. Until Paper and Salt get their act together and make a cookbook, this is the best author-inspired recipe book around!
Writer’s tea If the writer in your life is more likely to reach for a soothing cup of tea to aid their plot than grab a coffee, then this mango, vanilla and gingko ‘Writer’s Tea’ blend from Nook & Burrow promises to brew away writer’s block, inspire ideas and form characters!
A pencil cookie cutter Is the only way to your writer’s heart that you know of through the conduit of sugar? Get yourself one of these pencil cookie cutters and start churning out that chocolate-chip goodness! I also love this idea of making a cute chunky pencil from a candycorn cutter. Bring out your cookie recipes!
Writing in strange places
A shower notepad You have no idea how often I hear about this particular author’s dilemma: hitting upon an inspired idea for your story while in the shower or bath, and forgetting it by the time the lovely warm bubbles have evaporated. My partner suffers from shower epiphany syndrome, and I wanted to find an easy solution so he could enjoy a lovely hot shower without having to worry about memory lapses or slipping on his face trying to get to the nearest pen and paper. Luckily, a small company called Aqua Notes seems to endorse the humble shower epiphany, and sells these waterproof notepads for about $7 on their website. We now have one in our household which promises to be the saviour of many a story idea!
Writer’s Block soap For those who prefer a good old bubble bath, why not invest in a big ol’ slab of Writer’s Block soap! According to the Whiskey River Soap Company: smells like regurgitated ideas and probably a vampire. Get scrubbing! And once you’ve washed away the writer’s block…
A bath caddy ... no need to leave your lovely warm bubble bath to start your writing session! Etsy has lots of bath caddy offerings, but I love this recycled wooden one from Barnandlace. It has plenty of room to set up a makeshift bath desk with your favourite writing notebook and feather pen, and even space for your preferred glass of soda or bubbles on the side!
A writing map I love this zine-like series of writing maps – essentially prompt-maps for just about any topic or setting you could think of – one about writing around the house, one for cafés, one for food and another for characters. They promise “story ideas to inspire creative explorations of the city, the home, characters in fiction and life in general”. Inexpensive and perfect to carry around for your inspiration destination of choice!
A night notebook Ever wake from a dream with an amazing plot bunny you simply must capture? Do you have a late-night writing itch but don’t want to wake your partner? Nite Notes is a handy little notepad device that lights up when you remove the pen to jot down your story epiphany, then goes dark when the pen is replaced to lull you back into a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams!
A Little Planet These little planet cast models could make a perfect desktop companion for sci-fi writers. Affordable and utterly gorgeous, planets, moons, dwarf planets and even smaller bodies such as Eros are all available as choices. More promising still is the offer of commissioning your own planet with custom data. For sheer beauty or for a great reference point for your story, these make a truly unique gift.
A crime scene template Planning the perfect murder mystery? Better get the most important element straight first: the crime scene! The Crime Scene Store sells all sorts of essential crime-solving aids such as crime scene tape, swab kits and even forensic mannequins (!), but I think this drawing template for mapping out an accurate scene of your fictional murder is a perfect little tool to get all your storytelling ducks in a row to allow you to confidently drop accurate clues for your readers when the time comes.
Tools of the trade
Magnetic pens I may be endorsing writing procrastination here, but I think these pens are simply too cool to pass up. Each implement contains two powerful magnets that allows you to store and wear them in whichever most creative way you can think of, never mind the possibility of creating a miniature writing fort (sorry, procrastinators)!
A levitating penWant to feel as though magic is really flowing through your fingertips when you write? Set down your pen to float among the clouds with this invention from Penultimate. It makes an admirable addition to any
wizard’s writer’s workspace, and an extra splash of inspiration for your writing session.
“Once upon a time…”, “It was a dark and stormy night…” or how about “In a galaxy far, far away…” A fun gift for any writer on the move. Their cousins, procrastination pencils and de-motivational pencils, are perhaps less likely to help, but may be more likely to hit the right spot for other writers!
A dungeon master screen Every serious dungeon master needs to assert their status, so how about gifting them one of these handsome wooden screens from Etsy shop CritIt? All handmade with magnetic panels, the screens range from the affordable to the more dramatic. They also cater to engravings. While you’re browsing CritIt, also check out some of their beautiful dice dungeons and dice chests!
Dixit There was plenty of time for board games last Christmas: personally I revisited Dixit and forced everyone to revisit it with me! As I explained in my top board games for writers post, Dixit is my favourite choice of storybuilding games. It’s light, utterly gorgeous, easy-to-play and a unique source of story inspiration.
Words-For-Evil I’ve been playing this little game addictively all month. It’s essentially a word game set in a fantasy setting, with a fun way of making you work for your nouns and adjectives. You will battle each opponent you meet on the road by firing words at them – the more elaborate, the more damage done. It’s a tricky game that makes a great test of skill for writers! You can buy it for a friend as a gift purchase on Steam. Or, for other video game gift ideas, check out my 10 video games for writers post!
Story dice Rory’s story cubes aim to provide instant and spontaneous inspiration – by a roll of the dice! They offer a huge variety of themed dice sets (enchanted, intergalactic, fright, and more specific themes like batman and doctor who) for storytellers, with each face of each dice featuring a graphic to lend your story its next direction.
Mysterium I mentioned Mysterium previously on my 10 board games for writers post, but I recently received a gift copy of my own and wanted to sing its praises again as a storytelling device. In Mysterium, one player takes the role of a murdered ghost trying to communicate the culprit to a team of mediums through dreams (in the form of beautiful artwork cards not dissimilar to Dixit). It’s a great creative role for both sides of the game – the ghost gets to practise description through articulating the imagery of his dreams (be as flowery or terrifying as you like!) and the mediums get to give their imaginations a work out trying to connect the dreams to the culprit. It’s a board game that brings out the storyteller in us all – don’t miss it!
A writing magazine subscriptionI find a weekly or monthly magazine through your door telling you to hurry up and get writing can work wonders for motivating your novel, screenplay or game! They can also keep you up to date with the latest writing competitions, publishing house adverts and workshops. Writer’s Magazine is a popular choice, but there are plenty of other choices: The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Brittle Star, and Myslexia.
A writer’s thesaurus I was initially told about this set of writers’ thesauruses by a friend who dabbles in romance writing, and thought they might work as an excellent Christmas pressie for a writer friend of mine. There are six currently on offer; I opted for the ‘Negative Trait Thesaurus’ to help her write the perfect villain. Each double-page spread in the book offers you a character trait, say ‘manipulative’, and provides you with synonyms, associated behaviours, positive and negative aspects, and an example from literature. They make a great little reference book to dip into when you feel like you’ve exhausted all your adjectives to death.
Dictionary of Creation Myths I found a recommendation for this book in the back of a favourite Jess Richards novel – the author listed it as a source of inspiration. It’s the perfect resource for writers who are trying to create original mythology, listing origin myths from hundreds of different cultures (Mayan, Buddhist, Inca etc). With some beautiful and lesser-known origin stories about creators, monsters, mothers and fathers, A Dictionary of Creation Myths is a treasure trove of ideas in which to base the beginnings of your universe.
Ignite the senses
Bookish candle Yes, I am one of those pitiful souls who uses candles to help get me through the winter. But I also think these can be great at setting the mood for a good scene-writing session. There are lots of sources of fiction-themed candles nowadays, but I wanted to highlight From the Page on Etsy this month. I picked up her Thornfield Garden candle recently, and in a time of horrid weather it’s repeatedly transported me to a sunlit garden where I can join my characters in a frolicking session.
Library-scented leaves Stuck on the road while your writing is waiting for you at home? Or on a road trip with your notepad at the ready for every motel stop? I like these library-scented leaves from True Grace for a car air-freshener or for a soothing bath to give you that lovely library-feel, and a gentle reminder that your book is waiting to be written!
A Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scent “A perfume progresses from top notes (the first thing you smell when you open a bottle or apply a scent to your skin) through heart notes to base notes (the last thing left before it fades), and this classic progression mimics narrative storytelling – we journey from the familiar to the strange, from whom we have been to who we might be.” I love the use of scent as a storytelling prompt and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab are the masters of storytelling perfume, with scents covering the elements of RPG series (lawful, chaotic, cleric, druid etc), famous book, movie and video game settings, genres such as steampunk as well as classics such as ‘Scherezade’ and of course the ever-popular ‘Jareth’. Have a good dig through their shop for some magic, and check out their article on how they converted Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to perfume.
Show your credentials
A new novel birth card Forget babies! Why not celebrate the birth of your friend’s new novel? Little Bookish HQ sells these adorable new novel cards to present to a new novelist for their accomplishment. Inside message: “You’ve had, like, a baby out of your head, dude!”
A mightier than the sword pin How better to show off your writer credentials than these mightier than the sword pins from Rockcakes? I love these little gems as a simple, quiet and elegant way of signalling your life’s vocation.
A writer’s door sign For the lazy among us, sticking a ‘do not disturb’ on our door is often necessary for a lie-in – so how about considering these writer’s versions from LittleBookishLtd on Etsy? There are loads of sweet and silly options here, from a simple ‘Writer in Residence’ or ‘Editor at Work’ to the aggressive ‘Go away… genius at work!’
A writerly temp tattoo There are some gorgeous tattoos for writers out there in the world, but if you’re not on the lookout for permanent ink, I love these little feather-and-quill temporary tattoos from The Spiritual Cookie on Etsy for something fun but meaningful. A cheap and cheerful item that makes a nice stocking-filler or part of a writer’s gift basket!
A comic book rose Paper flowers always seem the perfect boquet for a writer, but though I’ve seen book-page roses in many places, I hadn’t come across this comic book rose as an option before. A lovely simple gift for comic creators to adorn a workspace, or as a romantic offering.
A calligraphy set Inject some art and beauty into a story by using calligraphy! Have a shop around – there are some beautiful sets out there, and it might be worth taking a detour to your local Japan shop if you want to stay authentic. Personally I love the look of this Winsor & Newton set, which at a decent price comes with a selection of inks (gold, black indian ink, emerald) and nibs.
A rewritable eye mask Even after multiple attempts to dose up on caffeine or motivate ourselves through sheer will to power through a writing session, sleep gets the better of most writers from time to time. This rewritable eye mask could be useful to slip on before you take an epiphany nap to tell your parent/flatmate/significant other what’s happening (“writer’s block”?) or to give them instructions to help you on your way (“Wake me up in 30. Epilogue almost fixed!”)
A keyboard cleaner Sandwich crumbs, coffee spills, strands of hair pulled out from frustration, and the sweat, blood and tears of a twenty thousand word novel in the making! All items found in the depths of the average writer’s laptop/desktop keyboard. Give a thought to the ongoing personal hygiene of your writer by investing in a keyboard cleaner for them! I like the look of this CompuCleaner air duster, but there are few other options on offer to consider like this putty cleaner or a USB mini vacuum.
A plot bunny During last year’s NaNoWrimo, one of the participants in Plotist’s Night of Writing Dangerously brought a big box of pipe cleaner plot bunnies to the table. The effect was brilliant and instantaneous, inspiring Wrimos to send their plot bunnies hopping to and fro across the table to invade other stories. But let’s take pipe cleaner bunnies up a notch: how about these effortlessly adorable miniature needle-felted bunnies from Etsy? Of course a soft, floppy bunny from your favourite top shop will serve the same purpose, but there’s something mischievous and determined about a mini plot bunny taking aim at its next narrative victim.
Mythical monster world map Is your writer fond of delving into mythology? This map of mythical monsters from around the globe could set their tale on the right track. The poster border works as an A-Z reference guide, giving background and story myth to each monster on the map.
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