Need help figuring out what to buy your writer friends? Try these 5 handy gift ideas!
#1. Digital Pen
Unfortunately, most of the ones touted to be “good” cost well over £100 so I’ve never been able to test them out, and they all seem to require either special paper (like the Moleskine Smart Writing System) which will mean an ongoing cost, or a special writing surface like the Apple Pencil.
That said, there’s a reason digital pens were invented. So many of us (writers or otherwise) still prefer the feel of writing or drawing on traditional pen and paper, only to have hours of work either transcribing or scanning the result. Digital pen systems mean you get the best of both worlds.
Don’t be fooled by the “digital pens” that cost less than £50. I almost was, but they’re styli meant for tablets and not actual digital pens.
#2. Smart Notebook
I don’t use Evernote personally, but plenty of writers do so a regular notebook that can be easily scanned into digital folders is an excellent and much cheaper alternative.
From the Moleskine website:
Take a photo of any page in this book with the Evernote Page Camera and it instantly becomes digital so that you can save it, search it and share it with the world.
You’re still looking at around £26 for something with a limited use, and these notebooks also require Evernote already, but it’s a great alternative for someone who already uses Evernote anyway.
#3. iTunes Gift Card
There are a lot of apps out there for writers, from yWriter to Ulysses and Zen Writer to Liquid Story Binder XE. Some of them are free, but arguably the best is Scrivener with syncable versions for both desktop and iOS.
While Scrivener is available for Windows and you could give money to any writer with a PC, I’m a Mac gal and I’d rather receive a cute little gift card than cold hard cash.
Buying an iTunes gift card means the recipient can use it for either the Mac or iOS versions of Scrivener, whereas App Store-specific gift cards can only be used on the platform you bought it for. (That is, a Mac App Store gift card cannot be used in the iOS App Store, and vice versa.)
Plus, the recipient can always choose to use the card for other helpful apps instead.
#4. Wireless Keyboard
So your writer is starting to get back or shoulder pain from lugging around their laptop or hunching over a desk.
If they have an iPad, they can get a second copy of Scrivener or Ulysses to sync up with their desktop version and take their writing on the road (or to bed) without all that uncomfortable weight — but writing on a tablet can be sloooooowwwwww and frustrating.
Why not treat them to a wireless keyboard?
I use my iPad for things besides writing so I got a keyboard that’s separate. (It gets in the way when I’m playing games or reading, otherwise.) It’s also for the Air 1 so my Air 2 doesn’t quite sit right in the magnetic groove, which can be incredibly annoying when you’re mid-sentence and the screen suddenly goes flying backwards. I strongly recommend getting either a universal keyboard or one specifically intended for the tablet your giftee owns to minimise frustration.
I also don’t recommend getting a plain black keyboard. They’re boring and completely uninspiring. (Here’s where your familiarity with your recipient pays dividends: choose a keyboard that matches their tablet (white on white, for instance) or pick one in their favourite colour.)
You can also use some of these wireless keyboards with a mobile phone, too, if your writer doesn’t have a tablet!
#5. Digital Storage
You can never have too much digital storage. Writers are advised to back up their work in at least three different places, from USB sticks and external hard drives to cloud-based subscriptions, but they all cost money.
#5a. USB Flash Drive
You can get even novelty 4- and 8-gig USB drives for less than a tenner, which is usually enough to back up a single novel and accompanying files. The switch to USB-C makes them more expensive with far fewer options, but you can get around that with a USB-C to USB hub or adapter cables (initially expensive but it means older drives are still accessible).
#5b. External Hard Drive
External hard drives are more expensive but also more robust and can be used to back up multiple projects. If your writer has a lot of large files to access (such as digital maps made in Photoshop), then aim for speeds of 7,200rpm or higher; anything slower will make load times frustrating.
You can get a 2TB Seagate with excellent reviews for around £80, or a more rugged 1TB LaCie designed for life on the road for just under £100. (Rugged is better if your giftee likes to write in cafes or has to use the library.)
#5c. Cloud Storage
One of the reasons I love iCloud is because the rates are so reasonable and the pricing system is clear-cut compared to DropBox’s rates or the confusing plans from Amazon. (Google Drive actually starts out better than iCloud with 15GB included free with a Google account, but quickly gets more expensive for comparative storage.)
Cloud storage is trickier to gift without just giving money, but iCloud and Google Drive, at least, can be paid using an iTunes or Google Play gift card respectively.
What do you think, writers? Are these the kinds of gifts you’d love to receive? What else is on your wishlist?