Do you have a writer in your life? (Or are you the writer in your life?) Then you know it’s not an easy gig. Whether they’re lucky enough to do the job full time or they’re toiling away at a novel or memoir in the wee hours after their daily responsibilities are done, writers often pour their time and talents into projects for years without any guarantee of a payoff. Aim some generosity their way, and you could be the fairy godfriend who makes their big breakthrough possible. Some ideas:
- Writing courses (like these at The Porch here in Nashville, or these online classes offered by Catapult) can be a wonderful way to develop skills, but they do come at a cost. Foot the bill for a class, gain a writer’s gratitude forever.
- If the writer is a parent, offer a day of babysitting — which equals the priceless opportunity to work uninterrupted for hours at a stretch.
- Do you have extra frequent flyer miles? Access to a vacation home or apartment somewhere? Help a writer get away to immerse themselves in their work for even just a few days, and we might all have a great new book to read in a couple of years!
Or show a writer you believe in them with a little care package full of gifts from their local bookstore. Such as…
If your loved-one-who-writes is just starting out, now’s the perfect time to stock their shelves with books about the craft. Pictured above: Between You & Me by Mary Norris (who’s coming to Nashville on April 28 for her upcoming book Greek to Me — more on that soon!); Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee; On Writing by Stephen King; The Writer’s Practice by John Warner; My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture by Kazuo Ishiguro; and Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer. We could go on and on with these.
Outfit the writer’s desk with lovely accoutrements, and don’t forget a pack of pretty pencils and a bundle of Moleskine notebooks for jotting ideas down before they blow away. (Parnassus carries these in all sizes, including tiny notebooks that fit in a purse or pocket.)
Literary magazines — or as we like to call them, “the mix tapes of literature” — are an inexpensive way to taste-test a variety of contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Give a stack to a writer looking to up their game.
Give a writer a new tote for carrying their metaphorical burdens AND all the books they’re reading.
And don’t forget a smaller bag for carrying all their riches. (On that note: make a freelancer’s day by forwarding along this hilarious spin on the woes of invoicing. It’s hard to get paid in this business, y’all.)
It helps to have role models. Give a copy of photographer Beowulf Sheehan’s coffee table book, Author, a collection of portraits featuring 200 writers of all stripes — plus a great reminder that no two authors are exactly alike.
How about some walking or running gear? This idea’s a little outside-the-box, but research shows that moving your body can shake loose ideas and improve concentration. Nashville professor and writer Bonnie Smith Whitehouse believes so wholeheartedly in that concept that she has produced a gorgeous new book called Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking (available in stores next Tuesday, March 5 — read the review on Chapter 16 here).Come see Whitehouse discuss this principle — and get your signed copy of this unique guided journal — at her event at Parnassus on Thursday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m.
As any author will tell you, perhaps the greatest thing any working writer can do is keep reading. In that spirit, give a writer a gift card to their local bookstore and let them go pick out something new from the staff favorites section.
PS: If the writer in your life happens to live in Nashville, give them the gift of our events newsletter (sign up here). That’s how we let everyone know about all the great authors coming to town for readings and discussions. Most of these events are open to the public and free to attend, which means anyone who’s interested can come have a front row seat, join the Q&A, and learn from the best. It’s practically an MFA on a shoestring!