It’s true, writers can be difficult people to buy gifts for. What should you get for that person who is forever hunched over their laptop and if you get it wrong, will your mishap be immortalised in the lines of their next play? Well, with the festive season fast approaching, we thought we’d spare you the embarrassment and share with you our top picks for writers in 2016. Whether you’re buying for a loved one or just fancy treating yourself, we’ve got all bases covered in this year’s list: from practical solutions to common writerly problems to luxury splurges!
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Here are our hand-picked gifts for the London Playwright in 2016:
Without adhering too much to stereotypes, writers need space in their bag for more than just their laptop: books, pens, wads of illegible handwritten notes. Why not treat them to a stylish and practical bag? Our favourite is this Herschel Supply Company Casual Daypack (£62.34), it’s got a specially lined laptop pocket inside as well as loads of room Shakespeare plays and the like – plus it comes in a variety of trendy colour combinations.
Notebooks can seem like an obvious gift for writers but that doesn’t mean you should give them a miss. Writers always like a notebook and it’s definitely a treat to jot things down in something that’s a little bit fancy. (By this point, you can bet they’ve used up all of last year’s supply!) You could go for something classic like a Moleskine Notebook (£10.50), or we love these kitsch Happy Jackson Notebooks (£8.95)– and for the fashionistas out there, this Kate Spade New York Journal (£25.95)
There is more to life than a standard biro. A ‘posh’ pen can make a really special gift for someone – these are gifts that last. We are BIG fans of Cross, who create beautiful writing instruments and are a friend of playwrights. (They’ve generously provided support for emerging playwright schemes, including our own Dark Horse Festival.) For a really luxurious writing experience, the Century Pen by Cross (£22)is a timeless classic. If you’re looking for something fun, the Cross Edge Rollerball Pen (£29.99) comes in a selection of funky colours.
The sheer number of playwriting books on the market can be overwhelming. This one, however, manages to marry an entertaining read with some really solid playwriting advice. The anecdotes in this book make for cosy winter reading and with Alan Ayckbourn being such a prominent presence in theatre over the last 40 years, it also gives a fantastic insight into theatre making in recent history. These are tips for success from a man who knows what he’s talking about (paperback £8.99)
What to buy for the writer who has everything? Why not ditch the idea of buying them a ‘thing’ at all and get them some valuable feedback on their writing? At the London Playwrights’ Workshop we run a Script Consulting service which gives targeted, personalised feedback and a written report to help develop a script in progress. If your loved one would benefit from an outside eye to kick start their new year’s resolutions and get that that play finished, then this would be the perfect gift. (£150)
Speaking from personal experience, a Kindle can change your life. How else can you carry your whole book collection with you at all times? Even better – you can even store PDF’s of your latest draft to work on the go and save money on printing in the process. Writers lov hardcopy books, but even the most resistant skeptic will be impressed with the reading experience on today’s models. Propel a writer into the future with this snazzy Kindle (£56.99)– also, if you sign up for Amazon Prime (you can get a 30 day free trial here), you get access to over a million titles at no extra cost.
“Write every day” – never has a piece of advice been so easy to say and so hard to follow. Thankfully Judy Reeves’ book has an endless supply of encouragement, inspiration and short reflective essays to keep your imagination sharp and help you turn up to your daily appointment with the page. It has notes on everything from establishing a routine to coping with loss, how to tell the truth and how to structure a killer sentence. Among its most useful features are writing prompts for every day of the year, but really what makes this book great is Reeves’ wonderful comforting voice, which makes me feel like I can write anything. No writer should be without it. (£15.99/ Kindle Edition £7.59)
Structure is an ongoing challenge for most playwrights, and this book provides a fascinating grounding in how to construct a story so readers can’t turn away. Combining how-to tips with helpful examples, this title demystifies the story-making process. This is one of those staples you’ll find yourself turning to time and again – the writer’s version of the gift that keeps on giving. (£6.99/ Kindle Edition £5.49)
A staple of every serious writer’s bookshelf, this vital book has everything you need to get a piece of writing finished, and get it noticed. Covering all disciplines of writing from playwriting to illustration, its pages are packed with essays and articles from experts, but the real meat of this book is in its list of over 4,500 industry names to help you get your work, and yourself, some attention. They’ve also published a guide targeted specifically at playwrights (Playwriting (Writers’ and Artists’ Companions) £14.99), which could create a lovely set for an emerging writer. (£16/ Kindle Edition £12.95)
For something fun – and a little bit unexpected – it’s worth checking out these story cubes! Just give a roll of the dice, and watch the story unfold. This is a great way to brighten up a writer’s desk, but it’s also a 5* rated game for the whole family! If you’re stuck on plot, or just want to add a bit of playfulness to the writing experience, these little gems have you covered. (£9.99)
Cuff links are a great gift for a stylish guy (or lady who likes cuffs), and these are a charming way to give a nod to being a writer. Casual enough for every day – or perfect for a press night – these are a unique gift for the writer in your life. (£8.95)
Not a cufflink person? This classy pen necklace (£13.88)
is a stylish way to make sure your writing implement is always to hand. (Also, perfect for the writer who always loses pens!)
If you know a writer who suffers from wrist pain, they will love you forever for getting them this gift. A standard mouse or laptop trackpad twists your arm in an unnatural angle. A vertical mouse works in exactly the same way – but in a much healthier hand position! One of our team received the Evoluent (£97) as a Christmas gift in 2009 – extravagant but worth every penny! – and has never looked back. (Note: women may want to order the ‘small’ size). However, there are options for all budgets, including this popular Anker model (currently on sale for £11.99)
Every good writer has to be a good reader, and this talking pillow (yes, really, hear us out), is perfect for audiobook lovers who like to read in bed. It’s a comfy pillow with a clever speaker concealed inside so you can listen to your favourite book at bedtime without having to wear uncomfortable headphones. Loud enough to be easily heard, but quiet enough not to disturb your partner (we speak from experience), this nifty gift is ideal for book-lovers who find it hard to find reading time in the day, or who just want to drift off to sleep with a good book.(£16.63)
Every writer dreams of their perfect desk, and the perfect desk needs a perfect lamp. Though everyone’s tastes are different, we really love this copper angle-poise lamp from Eglo (£49.26)
– perfect for focused work late into the night, but it’ll look great during the daytime too, and it doesn’t come with a designer price-tag. If you’d rather something more modern, or more whimsical, Amazon has a bewildering array of light fittings to suit any writer’s desk – and remember, whatever you buy after clicking through from one of our affiliate links, even if it’s not one of our suggestions, you’ll be helping support us without paying anything extra. So good hunting!
Featured image credit: Mac9496 via Flickr Commons