Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Happy 2021! Now that the longest year in history is over, it’s a good time for reflection and taking stock of things. And by “things” I mean those Christmas and/or Hanukkah gifts you got. If you’re a writer, you probably got a lot of writing-centric gifts. I’m going to say it so you don’t have to: some writer gifts are better than others. (I know, you don’t want to seem ungrateful, but another coffee mug? Really?!)
If Santa decided to go off-list for you, take heart that even the worst Christmas gift for you may be a reasonably serviceable birthday gift for someone else. That’s right, we’re talking about the greatest of holiday taboos: regifting. Some may frown on it, but a properly executed regifting prevents waste and saves you a trip to the store, which is more important than ever during a pandemic, so really you’re doing everybody a favor. The 2021 Regifting Guide for Writers will help you decide what to keep, what to give away, and how to do it without looking like a jerk.
Let the foisting begin!
- Motivational posters: The implicit premise behind many writing-themed gifts is that writers are in an unceasing funk in which they have no ideas or inspiration. This is accurate, of course, but it’s kinda mean to broadcast it to everybody, right? Few gifts signal writers’ daily desperation as loudly as the motivational poster. Designed to fill writers with creative inspiration, writing-inspiration posters more often remind writers of all the writing they’re not getting done. Verdict: Regift it.
- Notebooks: Cracking open a brand-new notebook fills writers with inspiration, and can be a fun way to kickstart a new writing project. Verdict: Keep it.
- Pens: The most ubiquitous tool of any author, pens are portable, useful, and make a statement about your commitment to your craft (or that you snagged a promotional pen when you dropped off your suit at the dry cleaner). Writers get a lot of pens as gifts, some of which are impractical, fussy, or require a very spillable inkwell. However, there are few things more frustrating for a writer than not having a pen when you need one. Verdict: If it’s a fancy pen, keep it. If it’s a box of cheap, ordinary rollerball pens that will actually fit in your pocket, keep it and write a very nice thank-you card.
- Writerly coffee mugs: If there’s one thing people know about writers, is that they’re always drinking coffee, unless they’re drinking alcohol. Coffee mugs emblazoned with statements like, “BE NICE TO ME OR I’LL PUT YOU IN MY NOVEL” and “I AM SILENTLY CORRECTING YOUR GRAMMAR” are popular gifts from folks whose friendship is good enough that they know you’re a writer, but not so close that they will read your work. While each author mug has a different catchy slogan, they all contain the same subtext: “I AM NOT PUBLISHED.” Verdict: Regift it to an unpublished friend.
- Books about writing: On one hand, you can find writing advice anywhere, and the best advice of all is to simply write and read as much as you can. On the other hand, this is a writing-advice website, and I have contributed to that site’s writing-advice book. Verdict: Keep it, AND buy a few copies for your friends!