So this is outside my posting time, but I consider this a writing emergency. I got an email today from a friend’s dad and he needs help. So here I am. And if anyone wants to add on to gifts that could work, please do in the comments below!
You don’t know me, but I know you’re a friend of my son, Max. He told me you know how to help him with his writer stuff. Max‘s birthday is coming up next week and I don’t know what to do. It’s been tight lately and we’re living off of my wife’s salary because my arm’s still in a cast. I can’t go back to work for two weeks. Can you help me figure out what to give him for his birthday?
(names changed to protect the secret birthday endeavor)
I totally get you! Life is hard and when you want to give your child the world but only have a bit of cash for everything including food it’s tough. And then you’ve got list out there with everything from a normal notebook to software that is over two hundred a pop – and these things add up!
First, I have to say that I love your encouragement and support of your son’s creative endeavors. His fiction is awesome and I can say that because I’ve read it. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support (and sometimes cajoling) of my family. So keep it up – he may not say it, but your support means the world to him. Good job, dad!
I’ve put my thinking cap on and compiled a list I think you’re going to like. If this list doesn’t have him covered, just message me and we’ll brainstorm more together!
An Emerging Author/Beginning Author’s Support List, or Actions to Support Your Writer on His Birthday or Anytime
Show up online and support his book release Show up in person at readings and events. I know he doesn’t have an event coming up soon, but in the future if you can, buy his books at those events – it’s important to his future success to see his work as important to you too. (you can do this later)
Share Your Skills
Show up if he needs you – I know you’re computer smart, so share your skills. Help him out with his website, or take a really professional photo for his site.
Share his links! Blogs, amazon links, short stories – he wants to connect with people and share his unique voice. You know a lot of people who might be interested in his work – keep sharing (although this may not be okay for birthday…it works all the time).
Supply healthy treats. I know the person in question is a beef-jerky loving, Rockstar-chugging kind of guy, so balance that off with other things he likes.
Don’t laugh – this is one of my favorite things and I’m betting his too. I’ve seen him write by hand. Support his practice – my favorite gift ever was a journal (don’t laugh) my sister gave me – a massive thing with a hard top she bought from an Army reserve store that has tons of blank pages. This thing isn’t going to fit in my backpack – it lives next to my desk and is taken out for special occasions…daily when the writing needs to be inspired. For more information on hacking a moleskin, check out this article from Lifehack.org.
His favorite pen is a black Pilot Precise rolling ball pen. They come in two or three packs. They are awesome and as he drafts in pen, will be really helpful. (tip: price compare – I have four stores locally that sells them and the prices are varied.)
Time in Nature
Things that lay the groundwork for his creativity – he loves hiking – maybe a certificate so when you’re better you two can go hiking on Mt. Rainier (or wherever) for a weekend.
A Writing Nook of His Own
A place in the house of his own where he can write – outside his bedroom – now this one could take some doing, but would be on the top of this writer’s list – I know you have a fabulous basement that you don’t use except for movies – and you know I love movies – but find a place in that area and have his brothers set up a desk with his two file cabinets and a couple of wood planks. Pull one of the chairs from somewhere in the house and set it up as his writer corner. He’ll love it.
This one is awesome and I’ve done it myself a couple of times – set up a DIY writer’s retreat, either at home or away – the place doesn’t matter. What matters is the idea – two whole days to do nothing but write. There are times when I want to do nothing but isolate in that kind of space, and I bet he does too.
I know your wife is fantastic at crafting stuff – could she take a t-shirt and make a press-on saying or hand letter one of his favorite quotes? If you aren’t familiar with them, don’t worry, here are ideas: “writer” (hey, it worked for Castle!), “Leveling Up My Craft,” “Fiction > Reality,” “Write On,” or something writerish.
DIY Writer Kit
Make him a DIY writer kit – pull together paper, pens, index cards, sticky notes, and his favorite candy, and wrap it in a cool bag or box – I have one of these for on-the-go writing.
Make a calendar he can post on his wall. I know he’s in CampNaNoWriMo in April and will probably need a whole month’s challenge. That would be awesome! Put notes on it and for each of the days write a goal of 1,667 wpd. He’ll know exactly what I mean (and wonder how you knew his goal of 1,667 words per day [Note to writers: if you’re thinking about joining us for Camp, you can set your own goals. Max set a goal of 50k for the month])!
Scrabble Saying or Nameplate
Now you’ll never hear me say this, but we don’t play scrabble anymore (it was replaced with Bananagrams), so the tiles from my scrabble board aren’t in use…I took the tiles and the tile holders and created sayings – one of them is on my desk now – it says “write on” and the other is a nameplate. Simple, but effective, and it looks fantastic! Also, check out this website for more Scrabble Crafts (the cuff links are cool!)
Print Cool Wall Art
So I saw an article in the Seattle Times on March 4 about NASA and Perspective…but there was an insert on how to make large prints of NASA images. The coolest shot I’ve ever seen is “Earthrise” astronaut Bill Anders’ photo from Dec 24, 1968. If that doesn’t inspire him to write science fiction, I don’t know what will. It gives me goosebumps every time I see it. There are tons of photos on the NASA image website – and I’m saying this because you could easily print out a couple images and post them on the wall of his new office space… Here is NASA’s image website.
I hope this list has helped you or at least given you an idea of what kinds of things are useful to writers. I know it’s just a start. When I think out of everything on this list, time with you in nature would be the biggest thing – it would also give him an experience to write about. Saving that, go for the home office – we all need our spaces!